Imagine a land where a snaggletoothed, demon-eyed Barbra Streisand is feared by drug addicts for the staggering amounts of cocaine she can cache up her noggin…a place where Scully and Mulder get attacked by Jesus’ disciples…an alternate universe where Bill Gates is credited with inventing the vibrator. Imagine, in other words, the wasteland of TV programming refracted in the unruly fun-house mirror that is the Internet.
Though it was once tough to sift through the mass of obscure URLs to find worthy satire, quality is finally catching up with quantity: According to Michael Colton, half of the brains behind last summer’s razor-tongued Talk magazine parody, ”humor is the last thing on the Web to go really professional.” Here are three parody sites that are ready for prime time.
BEHIND THE MUSIC THAT SUCKS
The graffiti background and trance-y soundtrack may make you feel like you’ve stepped into a club kid’s dreamscape. But if your browser can handle all the multiple windows, you’ll quickly find your way to these rude animated spoofs of VH1’s Behind the Music that chronicle the lives of such easy targets as Streisand, Puff Daddy, and Jewel. The site does away with the soft lighting of the real BTM to showcase some truly squirm-inducing images (a self-pleasuring Marilyn Manson, the Pope looking at Britney Spears centerfolds). The real fun lies in watching the virtual artists say what’s been behind their faces all along (e.g., Puff Daddy: ”Ka-ching!”). A-
THE SEV FILES: RESURRECTION (www.sev.com.au/toonzone/sevfiles/rez.asp)
Australian fan John Cook has taken FBI agents Mulder and Scully, rechristened them federal imperial agents Scurvy and Mouldy, and plopped them into a comic strip set in first-century Palestine. Their mission? Find out why Jesus’ body has disappeared. Combining the blockheaded drawing style of The Simpsons with the goofy verbal jive of Mad magazine, The Sev Files is proof that you can find a good government conspiracy in just about any time period. B-
Started in 1998 as a cable-access show, this precise, NC-17 skewer of A&E’s Biography can now be streamed on your RealPlayer. The gravelly-voiced narrator, the suspiciously familiar logo in the corner, and decades-old footage of subjects like Gates, John Wayne, and Princess Di seem so real that you may briefly question your own gullibility. (Just remember: This is the Web we’re talking about.) Still, you may occasionally feel like you’re watching a film-school extra credit project. B+
Why is the Net the best medium for mainstream subversion yet invented? Liebography writer Jay Barbra points to the Web’s freedom from the heavy hand of the sponsor: ”The audience is there. It’s just that you don’t have to worry about pissing off whoever’s advertising during Friends.” At least, not yet.