Kristoffer Gansing on Sat, 6 Dec 2008 21:08:19 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Call for support: Pirates of the Amazon, taken down by

As the latest net-art blockbuster/flop Pirates of the Amazon web-site opens with these lines from Linda Hutcheon
(whose book on the theory of parody is available on Amazon but not on piratebay btw):
"Parody... is imitation with a critical difference, not always at the expense of the parodied text." 

I can't help of thinking also of Georges Bataille and Pierre Klossowski, who saw in parodist forms the display of a radical expenditure, a wasteful tendency which disrupts the order of any utilitarian goal of the production/consumption dialectic. For parody to "function" it thus has to reveal some kind of dysfunction in the original object, which it thwarts by inserting an imitating discourse aiming at its own breakdown: a parody is precisely a hybrid form which has always to be ready for change in order to produce new situations of disruptive and potentially wasteful communication. However, it seems that parody always has a constitutive relationship with its own becoming "static" - it is in those short moments when it becomes fixed in an oppositional relationship that it does most violence - paradoxically often at the expense of its own function as parody. Living in Denmark (although the example is of course global) this has been most evident in the 
debate around the satiric status of the Mohammed cartoons. It might seem like a far-fetched comparison but I think that The Pirates of the Amazon were actually hijacked by a similar logic of sensationalism turning the parodic function into something else. All the blog articles tried to sell the story as if it really allowed users to download Amazon's content for free. Maybe the sensationalist way that the project presents itself also predictably called for this reaction. So the focus shifts from the original discussion of the content mirroring of torrent sites and commercial vendors to the more media friendly pirates vs. copyrights debate. It is crucial to note that what was produced was a misrepresentation of the function of the plugin. What The Pirates of the Amazon and other similar interventionist projects thereby seem to implictly ask is what happens to parody when it also becomes functional? Complicating the situation is the fact that the plugin, besides aiming at parod
 y, also does perform a concrete function. It would therefore be important in the future for such projects to develop self-reflexive strategies for how to present themselves vis-a-vis the intended public so as not to be hijacked by media representations that fix the parody into existing tired cliches. 


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