There several purposes in being an internet parodist:
- Some parodists find it entertaining to espouse a caricatured viewpoint with which they disagree, particularly if they can find someone on the opposing side who mistakes them for the real thing. They can then emotionally and intellectually manipulate that person, proving to themselves that they are smart and the other person is stupid. This behavior is analogous to the common schoolyard behavior of lying to a fellow student about something potentially believable (like "I went bowling last night"), and then laughing at them when they believe you. Since this type of parodist presents a plausible case, they are only taking pleasure at others' good faith.
- Some internet parodists seek to prove Poe's law, which states that it is impossible to parody certain extreme points of view without somebody mistaking the parody for the real thing. The fact that some people are unable to distinguish between a genuine believer and a parodist does not prove there is no difference between the two, or that the point of view in question is somehow invalid. On the contrary some people will erroneously interpret the facts in any ambiguous situation. Thus, Poe's law is not a reflection on the point of view being parodied, so much as on the individuals who lack the critical thinking skills to distinguish fact from fiction.
- Some internet parodists seek to demonstrate the existence of a double standard among the group they are parodying. For example, a parodist might go onto a conservative forum and behave inappropriately, insulting other users, and deleting good-faith comments from talk-pages while spouting traditionally conservative ideas, in an effort to prove that conservatives hold a double standard—allowing "conservatives" to do things they would never permit liberals to do. While such a demonstration might show that particular people hold a double standard, it would be overgeneralization to conclude that conservatives in general are hypocritical. For that reason, this form of parody is a logical fallacy.
Internet parodists as a liberal phenomenon
One wonders who these parodists are, and how sad and lonely their lives must be that they invest countless hours either behaving like children or proving a meaningless law. It is telling, however, that with only a few exceptions (such as the YouTube promotion of the film Expelled, which proved that Poe's Law applies to fundamentalist evolutionists as well), the vast majority of parodists are of the liberal and atheistic perspective. One simply does not find conservative parodists on liberal forums, usually because they have jobs or are otherwise productive members of society.
Possible explanations for the correlation between political persuasion and parody include, from a conservative perspective:
- Something in the mind of liberals that makes them more prone to parody
- Something in the mind of parodists that makes them more prone to be liberal
- The liberal world outlook may be far more prone to spawn wildly excesisive manifestations that display little touch with objective reality: under such circumstances, conservative attempts at parody are simply redundant
- The narrowness of the liberal mindset, and the level of maturity displayed by the liberal shock-troops of the internet, are such that parodists are easily spotted and dealt with
From a liberal perspective:
- There is less to parody about the liberal point of view
- Conservatives lack a sense of humor
- Beware the believers!
- "C'mon HH, that video is pure Terry Gilliam Python style. Its intended to be absurd, so absurd that the mockery of the academics that makes up most of the content actually ends up making fun of their adversaries (creationists). It is a parody of the creationist criticisms of those academics! The second funniest thing about it, however, is the people on PZs blog (and now you HH, sorry), who are convinced it is some creationist propaganda piece. http://www.skepticfriends.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=9780
- If I'm hearing the lyrics right, this is a strong pro-science message ... This is simply not how a creationist would parody the pro-science side. Where are the farting noises?" Pharyngula