Friday, September 2, 2011

How Not to Parody the New Yorker

It must be the end of summer, the silly season, and a time when even the bare knuckles-first Church of Scientology gets a sense of humor. The NYT reported that people were distributing outside the magazine offices copies of a parody title looking faintly like the original: "The New Yorker: What a Load of Balderdash." This was a response to an exhaustive February 2011 article that according to the Times painted the Church "as corrupt and cultish." That it did but with 26-pages to play with, TNY actually offered a lengthy, balanced, and nuanced view of the organization, often using its own language, teachings, and apostates to tell the story. It has the tension, tone, and narrative progression one expects from the magazine. This after all is about the struggle for mind and soul.

Actually I read the article after I had read the parody and accompanying videos at The parody itself is quite funny and the mock New Yorker cover works. The video version has symbolic flies or gnats buzzing around the cover image, suggesting that the Church is the gnat that will peck at the media giant. In the various videos that take TNY fact checkers to task, there are background scenes from Western bar fight movies, overwrought dramas, and probably the Three Stooges.  TNY is described as no better than a supermarket tabloid. A fake cover shouts: "Remnick Denies Alien Baby Claims." TNY editor David Remnick will not lose much sleep over this.

The Church should have stopped while it was ahead. The endless lamentations about the magazine fact-checkers, the ad hominen pokes, the scorched earth policy when dealing with apostates, hands a trunkload of weapons to those who reside on the other side of the Amen altar.


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