Here’s a link to a great article on the history of the movie parodies in MAD from Film Comment magazine. There are also on-line side interviews with MAD editor John Ficarra and me.
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I came across this article last week and was very pleased that someone brought up the current practices of selecting what movies Mad decides to parody. I thought that maybe I was the only one who noticed (or cared about) the significant decline in the number of movie satires done in recent years, not to mention the plethora of films ripe for parody, but ultimately ignored (The Departed, Inception, Pirates of the Caribbean, Skyfall…AVATAR!). And while the article was informative, I was left a bit dejected with Ficarra’s stance on how to approach the films of today. I call Mad satires (both movie and TV) the magazine’s calling card, and without them, I’m not too sure what you have left. But, Tom, it was your interview that made me hopeful. Like you, I too would love for Mad to parody more art house films like they used to do in the 70s. Blockbusters and popular indies have coexisted before in the pages of Mad, and I see no reason why they shouldn’t still. Also, while color adds some flair, it’d be great if Mad would present a parody in classic black and white every now and then. These, of course, are just a few suggestions from a decades long collector and fan.
I was a little unhappy with that interview, actually. I guess i was not very clear about my meaning with some of those answers. I actually love the color, and while I have a fondness for the old B&W MAD I’d not want to go back to that.
MAD is hamstrung by modern film distribution and shelf life, and the blockbusters are obviously more popular and therefore make more sense to parody. However I’d like to do more parodies of films like “Flight” or “Argo”, as they have more to really make fun of. Blockbusters and popcorn flicks are often self-parodies already.
They way your responses read, I didn’t think you were dismissing the use of color at all; rather, I thought you were just fondly remembering the look of Mad before you had your opportunity to work with the magazine, and perhaps sharing a desire to have been a part of that culture at that time. Also, I completely agree with including films liked “Argo” and “Flight” in Mad’s continuing assault on today’s films, which makes me wonder how much, if any, influence do writers and artists have in suggesting movies to parody.