With the new digital age came new accessibility and acceptability for audiences to be active members of media production. The internet, especially through sites such as YouTube, has allowed a greater number of individuals to connect across vast spans of geography to share in digital culture practices. Some of those practices, like popularizing “production, distribution, appropriation” would not be possible without digital technologies like YouTube (Russo & Coppa, 2012). The availability to contribute to all three processes has greatly impacted what Henry Jenkins (2006) calls the participatory culture. To Jenkins, participatory culture is what drives competing media economies and the circulation of media content. With even more advanced technologies now than when Jenkins published his book, Convergence Culture, remixing has become one of the main parts of our participatory culture in the U.S. Parody, one component of remix culture, is able to reach across many media – radio, television, and the internet. The internet is unique as a medium because we can access and re-access any material, current or past, creating a perpetual time capsule of culture, which allows audiences to constantly remix. Jenkins (2006) accredits the circulation of media to the link between media industries and remixers, because it depends so “heavily on consumers’ active participation” (intro, p. 3). The text this paper will be examining, however, is a parody music video produced by the media corporation Yahoo!, which inherently took out the consumer as a remixer and therefore, according to Jenkins interpretation, would halt the circulation. With this in mind, the video “Oh Lordy ‘White Girls’” will be examined through a cultural analysis.
Parody as a Practice
There are many various perspectives of what parody is as a practice, and what type of role it place in media. To understand parody, one must understand what is coming across it as a text. According to Ott and Mack (2010), parody uses “familiar media codes and symbols to criticize” anything from a text, to a person or ideology (p. 296). Jamie Warner (2007) comprised two necessities a text needs to have for parodies to work that align with Ott and Mack’s assertion for familiar codes and symbols: It needs to stay within the format of the original text, and it must closely resemble the original text. In other words, if the parody is mocking a news organization, like CNN, then it will be set up in a “news station” with the same format as a news program – using an anchor to convey the symbols that reveal the criticisms of the parody. In turn, the parody will still be ineffective, according to Warner (2007), if the parodied text is not recognizable. In this way, Warner (2007) says parody plagiarizes “the aesthetics of the media” (p. 23-24).
As a practice, parody falls under the definition of remix culture, according to Russo and Coppa (2012), which consists of a mesh of technology advancements...