Every so often I come across a subculture on the internet and develop an absolute infatuation with understanding its nuances-- the in-jokes, the cultural tropes, the historical context. I find myself watching videos and reading blogs and trying to understand the group, inevitably framing it within the context of my own life. The experience is like stumbling into the identical apartment on the floor below yours and realizing that everything is the same, except with totally foreign furniture, clothes, and knick-knacks. I might not be making sense. The sensation is sort of difficult to describe.
Anyway, for the past few months I've really hooked in to watching these comedy videos on YouTube by the student comedy group Divine Comedy at Brigham Young University, a private Mormon university in Provo, Utah. The videos are wholesome, self-aware, and endearing, and I am pretty sure I would find them hilarious if I grew up Mormon or in proximity to an LDS community. An example of the videos I am talking about (search YouTube for tons more):
Most of these videos are parodies of popular songs or phenomena. I found this interesting because, as both a religion and a culture, my understanding is that Mormonism does not identify with the less-than-wholesome, mainstream pop culture. I thought it was interesting to see a group co-opt something they reject, and use it in a self-serving way. The videos by Divine Comedy are for entertainment, but watching them got me thinking about the relationship between parody and activism.
Initially, I was really into the idea of a group using something that it rejects as a means of proving a point. It seemed cool, innovative, and gently subversive. On second thought, however, I considered the possibility that leaning on pop-culture for parody simply reinforces the system itself.
I am having trouble figuring out how I feel on this topic. What do you think? Is parody an effective tool for fighting the status quo, or does engaging in parody simply reinforce the system by relying on it in a different manner?
Edited to add: It was a bit of a sweeping generalization to assume that ALL Mormons do not identify with ALL pop culture. What I mean by the statement is that a lot of pop culture relies on themes of violence, promiscuity, etc-- themes that lots of Mormons (and lots of other groups) tend to reject.