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Satire Vs. Parody - What is the Underlying Difference?

Buzzle Staff Apr 21, 2019
We all know about satires and parodies. Both pack in a lot of sarcasm and entertain us. But do you know the difference between the two? Read on to find out.

Fair Use

Most parodies come under the purview of "fair use", a policy which is like an exception to the copyright law. Copyrighted work can be parodied without permission, but this may not apply to satire as it is much more vast.
Political cartoons that are published in newspapers every day are thoroughly enjoyed. They totally hit the bull's eye and pack a dose of laughter followed by an intense thinking session. That's satire, hard-hitting, yet funny.
The Scary Movie Series was a pure entertainer. They did not really make people think hard and rather it was a sheer entertainment. That's parody.
Satire and parody, though very similar, are quite different. What differentiates them the most is their purpose. Humor is the linking element between the two along with sarcasm, but satire is a lot deeper.
To clear the confusion, we discuss the basic definitions, examples, and differences between the two.

What is a Satire?

Satire is a genre in literature which shams or ridicules certain aspects of the society or the society as a whole. But, the purpose of a satire is not restricted to entertainment or laughter, it is much more.
A satire should make you think. It has the power to expose the shortcomings of society and sham individuals or organisations. It may not change things, but it will definitely make an impact.
A good satire uses the right amount of sarcasm, wit, and exaggeration. It is humorous, but not crass or vulgar. Other elements like hyperbole, parody, double entendre, burlesque, etc. are used in a satire to make it interesting and striking. Satires have lot of anger and frustration as well.

Examples of Satire

╚ Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
╚ George Orwell's Animal Farm
╚ Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
╚ The Colbert Report
╚ The Daily Show

What is a Parody?

Parody is pure entertainment, and sometimes called a spoof. Any work is imitated or mocked in a parody.
The main purpose is to make the reader or audience laugh. It need not be motivational or thoughtful. It is like inflicting a direct blow to someone, straightforward and obvious. As Dwight Macdonald has rightly said, "Parody is making a new wine that tastes like the old but has a slightly lethal effect."

Examples of Parody

╚ Scary Movie Series
╚ Not Another Teen Movie
╚ Austin Powers
╚ Saturday Night Live Show
╚ Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Satire vs. Parody

Satire does not limit itself to one specific target, it can have a much wider scope. Parody is usually about one person, incident, or movie. A strong satire has the power to stir souls, whereas a good parody will just invite hearty laughs.
Satire does not need a subject to mock or ridicule, whereas parody needs one. It takes elements from different works giving them a comic twist.
All the flaws of the said work or works are emphasised just for comic relief. In a satire, the flaws are exaggerated but not in such an in-your-face way. Parody is basically a part of satire, and is used in many satirical works.
Satire is usually more subtle and intelligent than a parody. Parody is pretty straightforward and has direct humor. There is no underlying message as in case of the former.
Parody is lighthearted humor, and has obvious humor. You can easily understand the inspiration behind a parody, the source will not be copied directly, but the resemblance will be pretty obvious.
So, to sum it all, we can say that a satire usually highlights the negative aspects of society or politics, in a humorous way. It will have a strong underlying message, and a parody will just make you laugh.