As we have previously complained, it's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between parody and real life. Is that Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots movie starring Hugh Jackman intentionally silly? Or was somebody behind that really trying their best?
So maybe it's no surprise that through history, lots of things that were created to be intentionally bad mockeries were loved unironically by audiences. For instance ...
The "chase" cartoon is a classic trope in the animation genre. The Tom and Jerry cartoons are some of the most famous pioneers, but there are endless variations: Sylvester wanted to catch Tweety so he could eat him, Elmer wanted to shoot Bugs or Daffy because he was a hunter and Pepe Le Pew wanted to rape Penelope because he was French. And a rapist.
"Mommy, what does 'DVDA' mean?"
In 1949, writer and animator Chuck Jones decided he wanted to take a gentle jab at the genre by writing a chase cartoon, but take it to absurd extremes. While earlier Tom and Jerry shorts had featured a battle of wits:
... Jones' vision, about a hungry coyote chasing after a cocky roadrunner with several extra IQ digits, featured ridiculous gadgets and a universe with ludicrously inconsistent rules:
That's Road Runner running down a tunnel that Wile E. just painted into the wall.
It was ridiculous, nonsensical and incredibly violent. And audiences loved it. The debut Coyote/Road Runner short, "Fast and Furry-ous," ended up changing the chase-cartoon game forever. Later, even Tom and Jerry cartoons followed suit by easing up on pranks and focusing more on absurd gadgets and outrageous schemes.
Wait a tick. Mice don't use perfume.
All because he made a "See how stupid these are?" parody. It'd be like if Itchy and Scratchy, the absurdly violent chase cartoon parody on The Simpsons, had become a huge hit on its own.
Jones claimed to be "disappointed" by people misinterpreting his cartoon, which is ironic considering he was later hired to direct Tom and Jerry, the cartoon he was criticizing in the first place, and held that position for four years at the height of its popularity.
Right before he moved on to snuff porn.
Besides, we all know the real mistake Jones made -- overestimating his audience. He aimed for a subtle critique (rocket-powered roller skates count as subtle, in certain universes), when really he needed to take the over-the-top even over-the-top-er.
You take a cat and a decaying radioactive isotope releasing deadly amounts of radiation and you lock them together in a windowless, completely soundproof steel box. Is the cat alive or dead?
If you answered, "Holy crap, what?" then congratulations, you're a compassionate human being. However, if you answered "Neither," then you are familiar with Schrodinger's cat, maybe the most famous thought experiment of all time. The idea is that, according to the laws of quantum physics, the cat is both alive and dead because until it is perceived, both scenarios are simultaneously "true."
"Sir, do you have to giggle each time you do the experiment?"
It's a tangible representation of something that's been observed at a quantum level, and it's famous because it gets endlessly repeated by smart kids at parties who then will pat themselves on the back for having blown your mind. In fact, most of the people reading this who know that quantum theory is a thing know about it because of the Schrodinger's cat thought experiment.
The "douchebag" part is completely on your shoulders.
But when Erwin Schrodinger came up with the idea, he wasn't trying to explain something to some stupid undergrad -- he was trying to mock the idea. It's pretty obvious once you realize that the original writing of the example started with, "One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber ..." Also because it's not even true: The situation Schrodinger describes only occurs at the atomic level -- if you actually lock a cat in a box like that, nothing magic happens. The cat just dies, and you're just an asshole.
And wouldn't you know it, the world took him seriously. Knowledge of his famous "thought experiment" spread far and wide. It's still actively discussed, and it drives modern experiments and some really complicated science. Oh, and it's about the only reason anyone still knows Shrodinger's name.
Schrodinger's keg parties were pretty great about half the time, though.
The 1980s were not a great decade for Poland. They started with three years of brutal martial law, which then transitioned seamlessly into human rights violations and total economic breakdown. When the first semi-free elections rolled around near the beginning of the '90s, citizens were understandably less than optimistic about the possibility of new government.
"Democracy means not ducking when I try to club you!"
In comes Janusz Rewinski, a Polish satirist who decided that the illusion of revolution should be taken just about as seriously as his drinking problem. He established the Polish Beer Lovers' Party to reflect that. The party's original platform was to promote drinking beer instead of vodka (you know ... to fight alcoholism).
Polish voters, perhaps a bit peeved after getting screwed over for a decade straight, were actually pretty impressed with Rewinski's balls. Nobody had stood up to the oppressive communist regime in their cultural memory, so they rallied around the idea of beer-drinking for freedom. According to some, the idea of political discussion in an establishment that served quality beer became "a symbol of freedom of association and expression, intellectual tolerance and a higher standard of living."
"Dude, you missed it. We debated politics until Chad puked blood!"
Other people just thought it was funny.
But regardless of the reason, the joke party gained momentum, and more people joined and ran under the banner. Then, in 1991, in the first free election in Poland, the Polish Beer Lovers' Party won 16 seats. Eventually, they split into the Big Beer and Little Beer party, and then one of those factions became the Polish Economic Program. As in, a real political party.
"I was elected to what? Man, fuck Barleywine."