[the afterlife of p.a.r.o.d.y.]

Topic: Personal
In 1999, The Blair Witch Project came out, accompanied by a significant amount of fanfare and excitement over its innovative faux-documentary style, which abandoned the campy polish of movies like Scream, harking back instead to earlier, scarier horror movies like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

But even before the movie came out, there was considerable buzz about the unusual marketing approach that was used to sell it. Rather than saying, “Here’s this scary movie, go watch it,” the whole campaign pretended that the events in the movie were real — that the footage really was found in the woods as the last remains of some college kids gone missing. There was no music in the movie, but the marketers nevertheless managed to come up with a “soundtrack” CD, Josh’s Blair Witch Mix, which was supposedly the mix tape found in the car stereo of one of the missing kids.

This is where I come in. The soundtrack was distributed by Red Music, a Sony subsidiary, where my friend Daniel still works. The people at Red got the idea that they wanted to promote the CD with a website, and maybe some sort of contest, but the basic premise of the marketing campaign — that this was all real — had to be followed. Daniel asked for my help in writing a fake anti-goth rant from a parodied Christian-right perspective, and the result was P.A.R.O.D.Y.

We were amazed at the response. While a fair number of folks emailed to congratulate us on our wit, far more people took the time to send in furious rants at our madness and prejudice. To be fair, the original site had a more ambiguous name (which I can’t recall), but we quickly changed it to P.A.R.O.D.Y. We figured that the name, plus a disclaimer co-written by my Neo-Pagan girlfriend (since changed to the current disclaimer), would head off the confusion.

It didn’t.

Six years later, the site has a surprisingly durable afterlife (and a way bigger readership than this blog). For a long time, the response emails have been going to a defunct Yahoo email address, but a few days ago, Daniel finally got around to changing the website so that all email links point to the disclaimer. From there, the ambitious can visit Palaverist.com and find their way to my email address. And I’m amazed that several people a day do just that. Six years later, I’m still getting emails from people who want me to know that eating Count Chocula cereal doesn’t actually make you a goth.

Curious where all this was coming from, I did a Google search on our fictitious organization and was stunned to find that people are out there debating its merits. People, people! It’s a parody. Get it? Get it?

Obviously not.