Stealth Parody

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"The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments."

Parodies that pretend to be serious works, no matter how absurd or mocking their contents are, often with the purpose of getting Misaimed Fandom to generate hilarious feedback. The Internet Age has made it particularly easy to do this. You can never be sure the person on the other computer isn't that obtuse. In the more general sense, standard internet discourse in highly exclusive internet communities can be very difficult to decipher by outsiders, which is commonly known as "trolling".

It can be lots of fun to find a particularly awful piece of Fan Fiction and review it as if it is one of these. Sometimes it actually is.

Of course, there's a third possibility: that someone claims their work was supposed to be a parody when it was really just that bad and not funny at all. It has become a pretty common excuse recently. Be careful when adding entries to this list. Also remember, a badly done Stealth Parody is still bad.

Sometimes overlaps with "Poe's Law", except that Poe's Law is applied specifically when a parody of anything extreme is mistakenly taken at face value, or the opposite: An over-the-top work that is intended to be serious is confused with a parody.

Compare Indecisive Parody which is when someone involved in an otherwise-serious project take the piss out of it. See also Parody Retcon, when a creator tries to claim a badly-received work was one of these.

Examples of Stealth Parody include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Believe it or not, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mirage comic series started out as a parody of dark, edgy comics of its time, specifically Daredevil and Ronin, but forgot it was a parody about three issues in.
    • Of course, its creators originally had no idea the comic would be a success, so the fact that it later became Serious Business is arguably hilarious in itself.
    • It was also meant to parody the rampant sell-out/cash-in desires of its era's comic creators. That backfired a bit.
  • There is a very good chance that the Doom Comic (here) falls under this category.

Doomguy: Dig the prowess, the capacity for violence! I'm the man! I'm superbad! Imps? Zombies? You think you can get me?!? (Wait. Maybe they don't think.) Well, I do! And I think you're DEAD!
Doomguy: You're stupid! And you're gonna be stupid and dead! Dance! Dance, bonedaddy!
Doomguy: Rip and tear! RIP AND TEAR YOUR GUTS! You are huge! That means you have huge guts! RIP AND TEAR!
Doomguy: Gaah! Radioactive waste! BURNS! STINKS! Get off scum! Who do you suppose let all that radioactive waste down there? And why? Why? Now I'm radioactive! That can't be good! Why can't we find a way to safely dispose of radioactive waste and protect the environment? Even if I personally stop this alien invasion, what kind of planet will we be leaving to our children? And our children's children? And... Oh the humanity! My big gun is out of bullets!

  • Lobo started a DC's over-the-top parody of Wolverine; then he became successful on his own. Marvel came right back (fifteen years later) with Lunatik, an even over-the-topper parody of Lobo, who in turn found brief success. How can you go over the top anymore when they keep moving the top?
    • Rob Liefeld himself would create Bloodwulf as an even further exaggerated spoof of Lobo. Being that he is Rob Liefeld and "over the top" is printed on his business card, he certainly succeeded in making a much more ridiculous character if nothing else.
  • According to some sources, the over-the-top macho "big muscles, big guns" Dark Age comic Guy Gardner: Warrior, in which the titular Green Lantern loses his ring and gains the power to turn into a musclebound tattooed hunk with cannons for hands, was the result of writer Beau Smith writing the pitch as a joke and accidentally having it approved.
    • According to Smith himself, his original intention was to make Gardner a non-powered tough-guy adventurer, but had to give him a super power of some sort due to Executive Meddling.
  • Bookhunter is an action story about some Cowboy Cops that hits on all the usual Police Procedural tropes. The fact that the cops in question are the Library Police, and the enormous manpower and resources they're expending are to retrieve a single stolen book, is treated as completely normal by everyone.
  • German comic Nick Knatterton started as this. The fans took it straight and liked it. The author not so much.


Fan Fic[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • People told Rob Reiner that they loved This Is Spinal Tap, but that he should have picked a band they actually heard of.
  • Paul Verhoeven's version of Starship Troopers was a satirical take both on the Robert Heinlein novel and jingoistic war movies in general. Not everybody got this when the film was released.
  • Borat, at least to all the unsuspecting people filmed cluelessly interacting with him. The film Borat itself is not an example of Stealth Parody though as by then the viewer has an idea of what's really going on.
    • All of Sacha Baron Cohen's characters fit this trope. It's pretty much his life's work. It's also clear that not everyone realised that Ali G was supposed to come across as a ridiculous Pretty Fly for a White Guy idiot.
  • The good South African folk responsible for Mystery Science Theater 3000-bait movie Space Mutiny insist that it's a parody of space adventure films. This claim has been met with skepticism.
    • As was the film City Limits, which Kim Cattrall, at the '96 MST3K ConventioConExpoFestARama 2: Electric Bugaloo, insists was meant to be a parody.

Cattrall: Some would say it's impossible to parody a parody, but somehow, you guys did it!

  • Tommy Wiseau's So Bad It's Good film The Room was written and filmed as a serious drama, but after the movie started gaining ironic appreciation for its low quality, promotional materials and Wiseau himself started referencing it as a Black Comedy. However, his hatred of any criticism towards the movie tends to negate this stance.
  • Tsui Hark's movie Knock Off is said to have been deliberately designed to be So Bad It's Good, in order to ridicule Jean-Claude Van Damme as a sneaky retaliation for his incessant disruptions during the shooting of Double Team. Stealthy because no one noticed the true nature of the movie until it reached the theatres.
  • M. Night Shyamalan attempted to downplay The Happening's critical curb-stomping by claiming he intended it as a parody of bad B movies. No one believed him.
  • Zombie Strippers seems to be this.
  • Arguably the Scream movies for all their Self-Referential Humor, Genre Savvyness, and fourth wall demolition.
  • Some observant viewers think the Battleship movie might be one of these. Given that the aliens, despite being depicted as Obviously Evil, never attack noncombatants, it may actually be the story of a First Contact Gone Horribly Wrong instead of an Alien Invasion being heroically repelled.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal is the arguably the most famous Stealth Parody, and in some ways the Trope Codifier.
    • Gullivers Travels was also intended as political satire, but the original meaning is mostly lost on modern audiences.
      • It was also lost on most contemporary audiences when it first debuted. In Gulliver's case, the problem was that the parody was too stealthy. Circumstance, sadly, probably wouldn't have allowed it to ever be otherwise; if he had written a straight-up attack on English society he would have risked political retribution, or at the very least, the ire of other citizens, so his only option was writing a symbolic fantasy story with the aim of Getting Crap Past the Radar. Then again, it's probably better that it succeeded too well than succeeded too little. The fact that most remakes ignore the second half of the book (only covering Lilliput and Brobdingnag) probably doesn't help.
  • Thackerey's Catherine, intended to show how stupid the popular Victorian 'Newgate Novels' sensationalising crime were, was acclaimed as the greatest Newgate Novel ever written
  • Jack London (or possibly Arthur Desmond) wrote Might is Right under a pseudonym to caricature his capitalist political opponents. Few seem to understand that.
  • Morris Minor's famous essay Body Ritual Among the Nacerima. Can be found here.
  • Thomas More's Utopia may or may not have been this, and scholars are still divided about it.
  • Dashiell Hammett wrote the novella Nightmare Town in response to the two-fisted non-stop violence that he saw pervading the genre of detective fiction. It opens with a woman almost being run over and ends with an entire city exploding in flames. He may have failed because, while it is no where near the quality of his usual work, Nightmare Town is gorgeously written and certainly a cut above the works he was lampooning.
  • Molvania: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry is a travel guide for a fictional country... except, naturally, that there have been people who didn't realize it was fictional (it can occasionally be found occupying the "Travel" shelves in bookstores). And who can forget Molvania's Eurovision Song Contest entry, "Electronik Supersonik" by Zlad?
    • One reason that Molvania: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry is often found on the "Travel" shelves in bookstores is that people who know it's a parody think it's amusing to put it there.
  • Many argue that Rudyard Kipling's White Man's Burden is an example of this. Others don't buy that for a minute.
  • "The Tale of Lossiel" pretends to be an excerpt from an unpublished volume of the History of Middle Earth. Look past the imitation of JRR Tolkien's prose and his son's editing, and note how the story conspicuously avoids using the words "white" and "snow"...
    • In fact, a good chunk of that site is just a series of Stealth Parodies (the E-Text Project and the Synopsis being a direct parody and full of misinformation, respectively). They supposedly managed to fool the London Sunday Times, but due to the dodgy nature of the rest of the site it's uncertain if this is satire too.
  • The Princess Bride. S. Morgenstern is not real, and there was never a European country called Florin. But Goldman's comments and backstory are pretty convincing...
  • Possibly The Prince, the most well known work by Niccolo Machiavelli. The (main) reason it might be a parody is that everywhere else Machiavelli wrote his politics down, he was against monarchs and for republics. (In fact, a few times he directly contradicts things he wrote in The Prince; for example, going by the other stuff Macchiavelli wrote about Cesare Borgia he seems to have regarded him as a blustering idiot.) So there's a good chance what he meant was "A smart prince should be horribly immoral to maintain his own power, therefore we should not have princes."
    • Facts against this are that The Prince was originally written semi-privately and not generally published until after Machiavelli's death. Also that the real intention behind the writing was to suck up to the current Prince well enough to get a government job (which didn't happen). It's thought while he preferred republics, he viewed the only thing that could save Italy from being dominated by foreign powers was a strong 'savior-like' ruler.
      • The guy he was supposedly sucking up to had his legs broken for working with the Republican government said Prince overthrew, and when he recovered he moved to another republic and got a job there. Face it, the whole book is dripping with sarcasm.
  • It's quite possible the entire IG-88 saga of the Star Wars Expanded Universe was intended to be this. It stars an over the top Villain Sue who goes on about his awesomeness while taking over a planet and the freakin' Death Star, while robo-crushing over Darth Vader. In the end he accomplishes absolutely nothing, and is destroyed without any of the real main characters even noticing he existed because he stopped to gloat only to himself.
  • Two Australian poets frustrated with the impenetrability of modernist poetry created the character of Ern Malley, to whom they attributed 17 poems built around random cut-and-pasted snippets - from Shakespeare's Pericles to the American Armed Forces Guide to Mosquito Infestation. Their target, celebrated editor Max Harris, was so taken with the work that he rushed out a special Ern Malley edition of his journal Angry Penguins. In something of a backfire, the Malley oeuvre has eclipsed the hoaxers' own work to this day, with many calling it a genuine (if accidental) achievement.
  • "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!", by Ralph Nader (no, really), which Nader presents as "a practical utopia," is an critical look at America's obsession with the ultra-wealthy. The reviews have yet to notice this.
  • The Conspiracy Theory text Report from Iron Mountain is probably one of these. At least, that's what THEY want you to think.
    • From the Author's own Afterword (on page 119) "The book is, of course, a satirical hoax-" Apparently in the 1980's right wing groups were taking the report seriously, and the author had to take legal action to stop them from copying and distributing it
  • Even H.P. Lovecraft dipped into this with Herbert West -- Reanimator, a Frankenstein ripoff he was doing for commission.
    • Another Lovecraft example is The Hound. According to the editor's notes in the collection "The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories", The Hound has been criticized for being overwritten, but the over-the-top prose was intentional as part of an attempt at self-parody.
  • Swedish writer Eric Ericsson wrote various letters to officials and companies, making very strange requests, and published those letters along with the (usually very polite) answers given in a book called Brev till samhället (Letters to Society). Among other things, he pretended to be a representative for a tribe of Native Americans who wanted a new reservation in Sweden, and sent this letter to various Swedish town officials - some of whom accepted the request. He then made a sequel called Brev till utlandet (Letters to Foreign Countries), in English. Go to "Provläs boken" to read some examples, or "Provlyssna på boken" to hear podcast versions.
    • There's a British take on the same subject in the shape of Robin Cooper's The Timewaster Letters, which contains Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and its sequel. Brilliantly, it's reviewed on the website for the "Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust", which sounds like a Stealth Parody of a ridiculously unlikely/irrelevant organisation to be doing book reviews.
    • Ericsson has also posed as a made-up editor for the Swedish comic magazine Rocky. He claimed that he was going to streamline the magazine to make it more commercially viable, and he also hinted at censorship. This caused a lot of readers to cancel their subscriptions.
  • "Birth Control is Sinful in the Christian Marriages and also Robbing God of Priesthood Children!!" Um, yeah... Poe's Law is in full effect.
  • The Alice in Wonderland books are just some goofy fantasy kids' books, right? Wrong. It turns out, they're full of references to then-modern elements of Carol's time, and pretty much just mock the hell out of everything he could get his hands on, even politics and science. In a more straight-forward fashion, the books themselves are deconstructed fairy tales that have aesops in them played to their logical extent, stripped of any and all content.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The BBC TV show Look Around You, a parody of science education programs from the late 1970s and early '80s, is a dead-on imitation, presented completely straight. The only thing breaking the illusion is the fact that the "science" it teaches is so utterly absurd. It has still fooled a few people into thinking it's a real science program.
    • The pilot was never shown on TV because one of the chemical mixtures is shown to benign, although mixing it in real life would cause an explosion.
    • Mind you, you have to pity any little kids taken in by it - sleepless nights could result from really believing things like the Helvetica Scenario, the death of Intelligent Calcium, or the use of ghosts as laboratory assistants.
  • Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.
  • The BBC's Ghostwatch and Alternative 3.
    • In particular, Alternative 3 (broadcast in the UK in 1977) starts out as as a spoof edition of a genuine science programme that had just been cancelled. Investigating the disappearance of top scientists, it unfolds into a vast conspiracy that has established that overpopulation will soon make Earth uninhabitable, and the powers that be are secretly terraforming Mars to abandon everyone else. Despite everyone involved freely admitting it was a hoax, credits that named interviewees and correspondents as actors (some well known at the time) and dating the show to April 1,[1] some people are still convinced that Alternative 3 is real.
  • Brass Eye, a spot-on satire of prime-time "special investigation" programmes that fooled quite a lot of people- including the celebrities asked to take part- into believing that they were serious despite the complete absurdity of the content. Most notably, their final programme - a special on paedophilia - generated immense outrage from several newspapers at the "paedophile comedy" despite the actual target of the show being media outlets that treated paedophilia with far too much manufactured outrage. One such newspaper was unfortunate enough to print a story deriding the show right next to an article complimenting the size of (the fifteen-year-old) Charlotte Church's breasts.
  • Andy Kaufman's Tony Clifton alter ego - Clifton was a ridiculously over-the-top Lounge Lizard, but how Kaufman (and later Bob Zmuda, whom he passed the role on to) presented him was not unlike Sacha Baron Cohen's characters years later. Kaufman always claimed Clifton was an actual, separate person who had to be hired and treated as such, and in fact sometimes performed "solo". Beyond this, Clifton was extremely obnoxious to everyone, including his audiences, talk show hosts, and the cast of Taxi - he was hired to appear in an episode in the first season, a condition Andy had stipulated when he signed on to the show, but was fired when it was clear he was completely worthless on the set. Even those aware of the truth (including the Taxi cast) found Clifton too much to take, making this is an extreme example in that instead of generating a Misaimed Fandom it earned a genuine Hatedom, which is what Andy wanted.
  • While it is true that there are conservatives who have thought The Colbert Report was a serious news commentary program, these do not, as is often claimed, include the minds behind the "infamous" Press Corps dinner. The person who invited Colbert knew fairly little about him, but was aware he was a comedian, not a pundit. Ironically, this could make Colbert's appearance itself a Stealth Parody of his own side; and, indeed, many think that this is the premise of the entire show.
  • The Lexx episode "Prime Ridge," about an "ideal community" obsessed with meat, guns, drugs, and lawn care, was well-received as a satire of Middle American suburbia. Creator Paul Donovan had to explain that it actually satirized how America satirized itself in the film American Beauty (which he called "facile," "holier-than-thou," and "a smug piece of shit.")
  • The "Investigative News Programme" This is David Lander featured Stephen Fry doing a dead-on straight faced parody of Roger Cook, a real investigator, only his stories were parodies. Fry was not available for series 2, so it was renamed This is David Harper with Tony Slattery.
  • It's up for debate whether Glee is a satire of High School Musical, "High School Musical for adults", or just cashing in on High School Musical's success by completely ripping it off... the jury's out.
  • Occasionally, Saturday Night Live celebrity impersonators will have quotes so ubiquitous, they're incorrectly attributed to the original celebrity. Especially common when the celebrities are political, rather than media figures. Sarah Palin never actually claimed that she could see Russia from her house, that was Tina Fey in character as Palin.
  • The character of Hannah Montana can be seen as both an Affectionate Parody and a Stealth Parody of popular Idol Singers like Hilary Duff and the younger Britney Spears, which can justify her over-the-top imagery and musical style. Nonetheless, even on this very site, the Hannah style is criticized as Narm by those who are unaware it's likely supposed to be outsized.
  • Ian Benardo, who has appeared on both American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance An obvious troll clearly parodying the usually over-the-top entrants on the show, he has still managed to fool many people in the YouTube comments section into believing he's real.


Music[edit | hide]

  • A Cracked article "6 classic songs that were supposed to be jokes" discusses several examples from music.
  • Anal Cunt. Look at the YouTube comments for added lulz - ANYONE who doesn't realize the band is sucking on purpose gets extremely angry.
  • Green Jelly. They even SAY they're proud to be the world's worst band. Too bad many people don't get the joke.
  • There are lots of very good reasons that Immortal is a parody of the Black Metal genre. But then, it's almost impossible to distinguish between fake black metal videos and genuine ones, so there's the slight possibility that the entire genre is one big, long running stealth parody.
    • These people apparently don't quite get black metal - if it were self-aware, it wouldn't have half of its present...quirks.
    • Immortal realizes that they look ridiculous, which is why of all the original Norwegian bands, they're the only ones who didn't drop the corpse paint. They probably see it as a signature aspect of the band.
  • Passenger of Shit, who is perhaps comparable to the former. Some take him at face value, some believe he is, in fact, a cleverly crafted attempt at taking the piss out of the hardcore genre.
  • This MTV News column makes the argument that Soulja Boy Tell'em's entire career is one big example of this.
    • Then again, his lack of any sense of humor when dealing with people who understandably don't like his music gives some lie to such a theory, as do his boasts about his skills as a gamer that turned out to be hot air.
  • Jethro Tull's "Thick As A Brick" album was, according to Ian Anderson, a parody of progressive rock and pretentious concept albums of The Seventies. He wrote the piece in response to Aqualung being called a "concept album" by critics and rock journalists, due to a few of Aqualung 's songs having similar themes about abuse of religion and Man's place in society. Anderson intended to write "the mother of all concept albums" in response. The album often gets mistaken for the real thing, due to its high quality, authenticity and complete believability both as a subtle parody and as a straightforward work, yet the humor of it is usually lost. Though its ridiculously profound and symbolic lyrics and the fictitious backstory in the included fake "newspaper" that its Wangsty lyrics were written by a eight-year-old child prodigy give the game away to a degree, Ian Anderson still gets comments by Tull fans over how much older "Gerald Bostock"' must have gotten snce the record was released to the present day.
  • YouTube user Santeri "StSanders" Ojala has produced a series of videos called "Shreds", in which Ojala overdubs video footage of rock stars with horribly off-key riffs that are completely in synch. (See, for instance, this one and this one.) The dubbing is so in synch that many YouTube commenters don't realize the videos are Gag Dubs.
  • It's not obvious, but LMFAO's "I'm In Miami Bitch" was intended to parody the playboys of Miami's nightlife, but it doesn't come across as that to most viewers. (It's an incredibly generic electro song about sexing up women, by the way, and something that wouldn't sound out of place in popular rap albums.) The music video, even more so.
  • Lady Gaga. Come on, no one would wear what she wears and perform the way she performs on stage without a previous, devious plan of becoming stealth parody of the pop industry.
  • A few people believe Kanye West is the hip-hop equivalent of Andy Kaufman. But they also think because of the fact he's a rapper, it's no stretch to believe people think Kanye is dead serious.
    • How is that an unfortunate implication to think that it's possible that Kanye is perhaps, * gulp* an actual dumbass?
      • It's unfortunate because the implication is that all rappers are just assholes.
  • East coast Rapper Masta Ace was believed to be a Stealth Parody of west coast gangsta rap.
    • His group's (Masta Ace, Inc.) song "Slaughtahouse" is less stealthy, "performed" by MC Negro and Ignant MC.
  • An All Music Guide review of Simon and Garfunkel's "I Am A Rock" suggests that Paul Simon may have written the poignant lyrics as deliberate Wangst, painting a picture of an isolationist character who may have embraced the folk-rock movement as justification for his shutting out the whole world. It becomes more apparent by the last verse.
  • "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" by Beastie Boys was originally made as a parody of "attitude" songs, but this was lost on basically everyone. This upset the Boys so much that they haven't played the song live since 1987.
    • It may be a sad testament to how morally deprived contemporary pop music has become (particularly rap, the genre occupied by the Beastie Boys) that the song has been misassessed, because its lyrical content makes it overwhelmingly obvious that the song is supposed to be a joke.
  • Purple Duck both played this straight and subverted this completely on the song "Mating Season."
  • "My Humps" by Black Eyed Peas was supposed to be a parody of crunk rap, but it wound up destroying their artistic credibility when people took it as a straight example.
    • Much of the failure is probably due to the fact that, even barring its stupid lyrical content, "My Humps" is arguably a terrible song. The above example with the Beastie Boys, though also misinterpreted, has both a catchy tune, and blatantly satirical lyrics, making it a much better example.
      • The writing of "Imma Be" can't have helped them rebuild an image as serious, talented musicians.
  • The Diamonds recorded "Little Darlin'" as a doo-wop parody. It hit #1 and is now one of the most beloved doo-wop songs of all time.
  • This seems to be the best explanation for Ke$ha, but Your Mileage May Vary. It's certainly a more palatable reality than the one in which she's serious.
  • Metal band Terror 2000 is a parody of over-the-top prideful thrash and power metal. Some of their fanbase doesn't seem to realize this.
  • "Shiny Happy People" by R.E.M. is apparently a parody of shiny happy songs, with the title being a propaganda reference. Michael Stipe refuses to comment.
  • Muse's song Neutron Star Collision is seen as this by some people. It's the theme song to the third Twilight movie, so...
  • Blur's "Song 2" is a stealth parody of American bands popular at the time the song was written. Ironically, it's the song they're best known for in America.
  • By the end of the 1960's The Turtles were unhappy at their record label, White Whale, who wanted commercial, feel-good sunshine pop hits like "Happy Together" and "She'd Rather Be With Me", while the band wanted to explore concept albums and more ambitious music. The band decided to write a parody of the songs they were known for, with the most banal lyrics imaginable ("Your looks intoxicate me, even though your folks hate me"). That song was "Elenore", one of their biggest and most enduring hits.
  • Ween - a lot of the stuff but specifically the song "Gabrielle" from "Shinola, Vol.1" a song written as a stereotypical rock love song by an asshole excusing himself, went on to receive a lot of airplay (at least here in Australia) and was a minor hit.
  • Some of the musical output of Canadian rapper Gary Switler, better known as Chuggo, strongly seems like it is a stealth parody of Gangsta Rap—particularly the infamous "Aw Come On" and its equally ridiculous music video, which is So Bad It's Good to so great an extent that it would probably qualify as a Stealth Parody even if it weren't intentional! Still, in many videos where he performs for an audience, such as his rap battle videos, he has a surprisingly amiable and jolly attitude, heavily implying that it is intentional. Nonetheless, a number of people still take him seriously.
  • Jewel's album 0304 was a parody of bubblegum pop music, particularly the video for its lead single, "Intuition". Like the Black Eyed Peas example above, it did a lot of damage to Jewel's credibility.
  • Limp Bizkit, although their Hatedom took it seriously.
  • Both Cobra Starship and 3OH!3 are stealth parodies of not only the type of music they make, but the type of people they market themselves as. While Cobra Starship's lyrics almost directly poke fun at rich, post-fratboy life styles (The City Is At War being a great example), 3OH!3 actually seem to live that lifestyle while making complete satire of it. Both, however, don't take themselves too seriously.
  • Lil B. The same rapper responsible for these masterpieces is responsible for this song about....wait for it.....The internet dumbing things down for the human race. WAIT, WHAT?
  • The Nig-Heist were a band consisting of Black Flag roadie Mugger, members of Black Flag themselves, and / or anyone who was on tour with them and wanted to join in; they were pretty much expressly formed to troll Black Flag fans as an opening act. Their performances involved insulting the audience and playing sexist Intercourse with You-laden hard rock while disguised in long wigs, with Mugger usually performing in underwear or naked. While they were generally pretty open about it all being a joke offstage, onstage they presented themselves as a "real" band, and plenty of audience members took the bait; they very rarely got through their intended six song set without someone starting a fight with them or an offended club owner shutting them down. They also claim to have received fan mail from notoriously transgressive punk vocalist GG Allin - fan mail sent from prison no less.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]


Radio[edit | hide]

  • BBC Radio 4 ran a programme called Down The Line, a phone-in talk show where the host was an idiot and the callers ran the gamut of fools, drunks, the confused and the very strange. It was promoted as being a serious programme (despite being in the comedy slot) and there were complaints that it was dumbing-down, the host shouldn't have let near a microphone (or the callers allowed on air) and the whole thing was a terrible mistake. Naturally, it was all a parody.
    • In the US, Phil Hendrie's syndicated radio show follows a very similar formula; most (if not all) of the guests and callers are played by Hendrie himself, in impressions of varying quality.
      • Down The Line was also funny since it was made by the same people behind The Fast Show, and anyone who'd seen that show would have immediately recognised the voices of Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, and Rhys Thomas ('Paul' in the Swiss Toni sketches) as the host.
      • Actually, most of Hendrie's callers were real, only the guests were faked. And hilarious.
      • Yes, the callers were real, but the guests and show staff members were fictional. It should be noted that The Phil Hendrie Show never made any attempt at presenting itself as a serious program, and actually featured a disclaimer every hour, usually in the voice of one of Phil's characters, that the whole thing was a put-on. Which should have been obvious, given "experts" making claims such as that JFK Jr. crashed his plane when he got disoriented by the chatter of his two female companions returning from a shopping trip, and that anorexic women (Calista Flockhart, specifically) should not be allowed to adopt children, due to a condition caused by food deprivation that causes them to view the children as food. Yet, there was never any shortage of gullibles, who would call in to give the "guests" a piece of their mind only to be verbally abused, with Phil posing as the Only Sane Man.
  • Restoring The Balance on the Triple J network in Australia. Its hosts claimed it was a serious piece of conservative programming to compensate for the notorious left-wing bias on Triple J and ensure that the network complied with media bias laws. Despite being a fairly unsubtle and occasionally surreal farce, they still managed to generate plenty of genuine hatemail and angry phone calls.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • April 1, 2006, Blizzard had a "fired" employee "leak" patch notes to the World of Warcraft 1.14 patch (despite patch 1.13 having come out last week, meaning they wouldn't have had time to test anything to determine what needed to be fixed.) The patch notes consisted of over 100 unbelievable patches, including major buffs to the Shaman (wolf form now takes 30% less damage and can cast all spells) and major Nerfing to the Rogue ("fixed a bug which let the Rogue equip two weapons at once). If contacted, Blizzard employees responded in a realistic manner, insisting that this information was not supposed to be public and refusing to comment on how much of it was true. How successful this was is hard to tell, as it's hard to tell on forums if they are being serious or not.
      • One of the notes was 'Mages: Fixed a bug which occasionally permitted Arcane Missiles to work.' Everyone with an IQ above room temperature knew they were taking the piss.
    • When Warcraft 3 was nearing release, they had stated that two of the factions would be completely new. On April 1 (April 1, mind you), they announced the Pandaren race, complete with press release and screen shots. The race was basically a random mix of Asian stereotypes with a cultural fascination with beer, which many gaming outlets accepted without question. The race is something of a running joke in the games ever since, with occasional sitings of brewmasters, finally leading to the race actually appearing in World of Warcraft.
  • The Game <insert seven variations of the F word here> is a stealth parody of the typical swear-aholic video game reviewer made popular by The Angry Video Game Nerd. The character is increasingly frightening because the longer he, his targets, and his target's fans continue to proliferate, the more obvious it becomes that his reviews are the logical conclusion everyone else is aspiring towards.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos... Possibly. It's kinda hard to tell. Either way, it's awesome.
  • Duck Sim 2008. You can tell the reviewers who got the joke and those who didn't.
  • Army of Two. It has to be. Please say it is.
  • Metal Gear Solid games, especially the second one (but also the fourth) are sometimes accused of this.
  • Cow Clicker is a Facebook game that is a parody of monotonous but addictive Facebook games. Created to illustrate a talk on how these games were the worst aspects of the gaming industry, it actually became successful, consuming 18 months of the creator's and players' lives before he shut it down, as told by "The Curse Of Cow Clicker".


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Nintendo Super Squad's first few strips.
  • Power Up Comics, a creation of Dinosaur Comics fans, is a spoof of videogame webcomics that is hard to identify as such, mostly because there are serious videogame webcomics that really are that bad or even worse.
  • Kris Straub's InsertCartridge (not to be confused with Cartridge Comics.)
  • Game Genies [1] [dead link].
  • Angus McPhee (Argument Guy) from Questionable Content makes his living giving stealth parody speeches - he gets paid to lose arguments for causes he doesn't believe in anyway.
    • He also mentions one occasion where he had been hired to do that job... and so had the other speaker.
  • Ozy and Millie: Millie tried to do one of these in order to get out of writing a serious report.
  • As a result of the general quality (Or lack thereof) of video comments on YouTube, Xkcd once proposed a challenge: Write a stealth parody comment on YouTube that was so stupid, people would immediately recognize it as a parody. Naturally, this is all but impossible.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The Onion sometimes achieves this effect by using the same writing style and format as a serious newspaper would, and sometimes is rather too successful. More confusingly, its political cartoons so resemble the strawman view of (right-wing) political cartoonists that they've been taken as such by papers who wouldn't know a conservative from Stephen Colbert.
  • Syd Lexia contributor "Haddox's" website could easily be considered a stealth parody of Maddox's "Best Page in the Universe," by way of the fact that the page is one letter "M" away from being completely indistinguishable from the original, but somehow funnier for it.
  • Something Awful Truth Media.
  • Jerry Jackson is a thirteen year old boy who thinks his flash cartoons are awesome. Devvo is a chav who gives surprisingly candid (if often incoherent) interviews about everyday life in a series of short web-hosted documentaries. Or... maybe not. Both of them were just made up by David Firth to see who'd take them seriously.
  • Octocat Adventure was originally taken as a serious attempt by a prepubescent child with a Youtube account to tell a story using the crudest of tools and the worst voice acting available. Rather than responding negatively as usual, many viewers took it upon themselves to sarcastically praise the animation and write detailed analysis of its plot. Then the final episode was released, and everyone learns they have underestimated the creator's capabilities all along.
  • One of the most well-known in Internet culture is http://www.realultimatepower.net, a site purportedly created by an immature 13-year-old kid named Robert Hamburger describing his wild (and awesome) misconceptions about ninjas. In fact, Robert Hamburger is not a 13-year-old kid, and seems to delight in the hate mail his site generates.
    • Cannot shake off an impression that he wrote all that hate mail himself.
  • Mega Man 9 Sucks Fuckin Balls Starts off looking like an incredibly stupid Youtube video by a clueless teenager, but if you examine the video closely you can determine that he is using techniques which speedrunners and other such people use when he's discussing the game and not trying to "show off" how bad it is, and he knows the original Japanese name for Mega Man. If you pay enough attention, it's easy to come to the conclusion that this is either an elaborate trolling plot, or one of the funniest parodies that nobody ever figured out.
    • It's both, but mostly the former, and a surprisingly and hilariously effective troll at that. The guy who made it actually loves Mega Man 9.
  • Improv Everywhere, a group semi-famous for their "Best Game Ever" in which they replicated a Major League Baseball game for Little Leaguers (complete with real sportscasters, hot dog hawkers, mascots, and even the Goodyear Blimp), after pulling off similar stunts, pissed off a lot of their fans when they posted a video called "Best Funeral Ever", which imitated their style perfectly. The video showed many volunteer actors crashing a poorly-attended funeral, all claiming to be "friends of the deceased". It's about as painful to watch as it sounds, and attracted a significant Hatedom in the one month between being posted and the announcement that the entire thing was a hoax, everyone involved was an actor, and it was perpetrated solely to see the fans' reactions. Many vowed never to watch any of their videos again, some said that it was a nice thing to do, and no one seemed to notice that the video was posted on April 1st...
  • Snopes.com, a site that talks about urban legends and reveals their research into which ones are false and which ones are true, has a page ("The Repository Of Lost Legends", or "T.R.O.L.L."), which has a list of made-up (and largely absurd) urban legends. It then says they're all true (or if the "urban legend" is mundane, false). One such page talks about how Mr. Ed was a zebra, rather than a horse, because it was better-looking on camera and no one could tell in black-and-white video anyway. For laughs, on the site's forum, the site's proprietors post a lot of allegedly genuine responses to this, either accepting that Mr. Ed is a zebra or talking about all the ways in which it can be proved that Mr. Ed is not a zebra -- none of which mention that the thought of a black-and-white zebra looking like a horse in black-and-white video is ridiculous. (It's part of their Aesop about trusting anybody too much, whether it's a chain mail from your grandma or a trusted authority figure, don't use anyone as a crutch.)
  • Epic Legends of the Hierarchs: The Elemenstor Saga, and its "counterpart", Song of the Sorcelator, both creations of Penny Arcade fans.
  • During the midst of the Harry Potter craze, humor site Cap'n Wacky got lots of e-mails about this obvious parody review of Harry Potter Bathes in the Blood of Virgins.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Light of Courage is ostensibly an animation test from a new computer-animated Zelda cartoon from DIC. It's a parody, but given how bad some of DIC's cartoons have been, many mistook it for the real thing...
    • It's actually a stealth parody of IGN forum user Joe_Cracker's futile attempts to get his awful Zelda movie script made into an animated movie. Just read about his saga here.
  • Some YouTube Poop movies fall under this, claiming to be a improved version of the godawful CD-i cutscenes.
  • Lee Mercer Jr. At least, one hopes this is the case.
  • This is the entire point of the online novel Atlanta Nights, which is a collaborative attempt of various sci-fi writers to discredit PublishAmerica, a famed vanity publisher who infamously denigrated both science fiction and fantasy genres. Grammar is nonstandard, a chapter is missing (but there are two different Chapter 12's to make up for it), character descriptions change frequently, the Reset Button is used frequently, and one chapter is generated entirely by a random string generator... the faults are endless. Despite that, PublishAmerica did originally agree to publish the novel. They backed out after the hoax was revealed. You can hear a dramatic reading of Atlanta Nights right here.
  • Songun Blog initially appears to be the work of a sincere, albeit incredibly delusional/brainwashed, North Korean propagandist. A closer inspection reveals absurdities that not even the most hysterical, thoroughly-indoctrinated fanatic of Kim Jong-il could have produced. (Otherwise, please accept this Face Palm on behalf of all humanity.)
  • The Angry German Kid was created by a very sane, if talented, kid during one height of the endlessly recurring German "Killerspiele" (= "killer games") political debate. It ended up being cited by several media outlets as a genuine example of videogame-inpired violence.
  • The short film Doom House (written and directed by and starring Lowtax and Fragmaster) very thinly masquerades as a horror film with rock-bottom production values on every conceivable level. At last count, its IMDb page mostly consisted of reviewers playing along and hailing it (in detail) as a triumph of modern horror cinema, and one confused reviewer who took it at "face" value.
  • In Barkley's Shut Up And Jam Gaiden basketball is Serious Business.
  • Dr. Albert Oxford, creation of David Wong/Jason Pargin has constantly been "proven wrong" by teenage fangirls of Lord of the Rings, Matrix and Eminem who fail to see it as an obvious joke. The man is brilliant satire of uniformed critics bashing something (in the manner of Stephen Colbert's "Movies That Are Destroying America"). A collection of all the Lord of the Rings threads can be found here; it's pretty funny, though it's one of the saddest sight you will ever see.
  • Aversion: Conservapedia's often accused of this, but, sadly, the founder is serious: he works for a conservative interest group headed by his mother and founded it when a student cited that Wikipedia used CE along with AD, which inspired him to create a wiki without "liberal bias". It's used to teach in his classes, in fact.
    • How many of the contributors are serious is another matter. It is fairly widely believed that he banned everyone but the trolls when he tried to crack down on the parody edits.
  • Ulli's Roy Orbison In Clingfilm Website is a brilliant parody of highly-specialized Internet erotic fiction. It's pretty obviously a joke, but the author never tips his hand.
  • WhiteHouse.org (and its spinoffs including Landover Baptists) during the Bush era.
  • Docfuture's Let's Play of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Special Edition, a completely non-existent Updated Rerelease of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The first video in the series is a pretty convincing hoax, but then every subsequent video adds increasing quantities of random crap to clue in the viewers that the whole thing is a joke.
    • The only place where the satire really fails is the acapella rendition of Mystic Cave Zone's background music. Because it's awesome.
  • RedLetterMedia's sci-fi film reviews, such as this epic skewering of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. At first they seem like overly elaborate Accentuate the Negative presentations, but "Mr. Plinkett" makes so many bizarre, Crosses the Line Twice references to his own personal life that it eventually becomes obvious that he's just as fictional as the movies he's reviewing.
  • Back when Your Webcomic is Bad and You Should Feel Bad was considered a big deal, Eli Parker (author of Unwinder's Tall Comics) created a fictional persona named Sonty Mick. The Mickster wrote his own webcomic review blog, These Web Comics Are So Bad; his reviews were equal parts Caustic Critic, Comically Missing the Point, and Cloudcuckoolander. (And many of the comics that Sonty railed against were actually some of Parker's favorites.) At times it bordered on outright trolling, as he would occasionally post—in-character as Sonty—on webcomic messageboards or the comments section of John Solomon's blog. Though people who mistook Sonty for a real person were more likely to feel sorry for the poor fool than to be angry at him.
  • Edward Current
  • People don't get that Betty Bowers and the Landover Baptist church are parodies of religious extremists.
  • Yet another religious Stealth Parody, Jesusophile. His first videos are pretty deadpan, and rather difficult to recognize as parody, but it gets more obvious the more you watch.
  • Robert Erickson delivered a speech at a Minneapolis Tea Party event using the same rhetoric of anti-immigration activists, but actually directed against European immigrants instead of illegal immigrants from Latin America. Watching the descendents of those immigrants call for their own deportation is incredibly hilarious.
  • And for yet another parodic religious site, ChristWire, featuring such utterly insane faux-extreme religious right-wing articles as posting a picture of a dressed-up cat in front of a birthday cake and trying to pass it off as a Satanic ritual, or trying to convince people that the biggest threat to their college son are college girls "vajazzling" (aka covering their crotch with little tiny plastic jewels, or "sparkly satan treats") to lure them into their pants.
  • BlackPeopleLoveUs.Com, a website about two suburban white people's incredible appeal to black people, is in fact a parody of misconceptions that both white and black people have about each other. About half of the emails they publish understand this.
  • The People's Cube makes fun of politically correct media, or rather provides "Correct Opinions for Progressive Liberals". The "People's Cube" is actually a Rubik's Cube in which every segment is red, so nobody can ever have their feelings hurt when they fail to solve it - because it's impossible to fail to solve it.
  • IrateVGNerd reviews Sonic 3 vs. Knuckles is a parody of The Irate Gamer, and thus feature Critical Research Failure, horrible gaming skills and general stupidity. It's not stealthy at all, but that didn't stop many from mistaking it as a genuinely bad AVGN knockoff..
  • Tenka Seiha runs a blog that parodies anime hatedom by anime fans. In a community that treats nearly every series as Love It or Hate It, the reasoning for all the hate can become a little arbitrary. Seiha takes the common Fan Dumb behaviours and dials them to eleven, which unfortuantely still makes it hard to tell from the real thing. Keep in mind one of the running gags is that Japanese animators are overpaid, underworked people with lavish social lives and she provides a thorough screen cap gallery for the fans of shows she has so much disdain for.
  • Some of the hate-mail the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster homepage recieves shows that the people didn't get the joke, or did get the joke and played along.
  • THE BEST GAMERS, a Youtube channel which parodies and satirizes other video game review channels like IGN and elitists with extremely inaccurate information and biased reviewing (depending on the reviewer.) Information is often so inaccurate that they end up playing the incorrect game, as seen in their Epic Mickey review [2] and Modern Warfare 2 review. Their Minecraft review received a 100% concentrated all-natural amounts of hate when it was first revealed as it was a little too subtle, but eventually people got the joke. The amount of bias and inaccurate information depends on who is reviewing, such as ROCKCOCK 64 who reviews Pilotwings Resort pretty well because of how easy it is, but fails to understand Minecraft to lack of a tutorial. Eventually, they toned down the subtlety since the Minecraft review, but some people still find it to be real...until they tear open a3DS looking for the 3D.
  • Chad Warden
  • Large Bagel doesn't even try to hide that it's a parody, it's so over-the-top and always lampshading itself. However people still confuse it for a bad cartoon like My Life Me or Neko Sugar Girls.
    • Neko Sugar Girls itself is actually a Stealth Parody. It becomes blatantly obvious as the series goes on, as well as by looking at the video tags.
  • The Cinema Snob, who is a parody of Caustic Critics who hate anything that isn't True Art. Of course, most of the movies he reviews are sleazy, poorly edited, tasteless gorefests, have plots with the integrity of swiss cheese, or some combination of the above, so many new viewers tend to genuinely believe that he's being serious with his criticisms. A few episodes make the parody clear, such as his review of Caligula(where Brad appears As Himself to explain the whole thing), his review of Maniac(where he combines actual criticisms by noted critics with blatant Hypocritical Humor), and the increase in jokes about how the Snob sometimes hates movies only because he thinks he needs to hate anything that other critics hate.
    • Watching the Snob praise Salo (an incredibly filthy Italian film which Brad despises but critics enjoy) is one of the most incredible parody moments ever put to film.
    • Similarly, Oancitizen mocks high-brow art film reviewers. His review of A Serbian Film, for instance, sees him praise the film while containing his rage until he can't take it anymore and his nose starts bleeding (similar to the Salo review above). Then he tries to nuke Serbia. Somewhat averted in that he really is that obsessed with William Shakespeare.
  • Is This Feminist?
  • Cracked.com has done some of their own articles. For example, Robert Brockway's "5 Things You Learn From a Lifetime of Screwing Up" is probably a parody of David Wong and John Cheese articles.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Physics professor Alan Sokal set out to prove that the postmodernist cultural studies journal Social Text would publish absolute nonsense so long as "(a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions." He wrote a paper attacking the "dogma" that cultural criticism has nothing to contribute to physics, arguing that quantum gravity proves the universe to be a social/linguistic construct and that math must be amended to incorporate "the insights of the feminist, queer, multiculturalist and ecological critiques." (He also invokes a "morphogenetic field" that pervades all things, links set theory's axiom of choice to the pro-choice movement, and flat-out denies that the "(so-called) scientific method" can ever lead to "reliable knowledge.") The piece was published unaltered and immediately denounced as a "pastiche of left-wing cant" by its author, leaving Social Text to admit that "the idea did not even occur to us that we had to check [the] physics [of a] credentialed physicist."
  • The Yes Men can be so convincing that even when they whipped out a huge golden phallus in the middle of a speech, one of the newspapers reporting on the event failed to recognize it as a parody.
  • Durwood Fincher, a.k.a. "Mr. Doubletalk", pretends to be a big-shot media interviewer... except that his interview questions are in complete gibberish. This man-on-the-street interview from the 2008 Republican Convention and this one from the Democratic Convention are particularly great. Although he usually reveals that he's a parody artist at the end of the interview, the increasing confusion that leads up to that moment is quite hilarious.
  • Similar to the Atlanta Nights example, a group of MIT students once got a paper that was completely computer-generated (and absolute gibberish) accepted to a conference before the news leaked out, at which point the invitation was hastily withdrawn.
  • In 1955, some students at Chalmer's Institute of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden, invented a whole new branch of mathematics ("Fatilary Calculus") by making up their own sciencey-sounding words. They presented it in a mock PhD defense, to which several national newspapers were invited. Some of them bought the story and published. It has a Wikipedia site, but it's in Swedish.
  • Joey Skaggs has made a career out of the Stealth Parody, generally to "wake up" the media's breathlessly reporting on anything that comes down the line, thus making them susceptible to people like Skaggs. Some of his more memorable works:
    • Calling up dog shelters and pretending to be a Korean restauranteur asking for dog meat;
    • Several times sending impostors to take his place in interviews...and once even fooling To Tell the Truth (and not just the panelists, but the entire production staff as well);
    • Promoting a computer that would rule on criminal cases instead of juries;
    • Several animal projects not hinging on cruelty, like a "Cathouse for Dogs" and "Fish Condos";
    • Promoting a vitamin pill made from cockroaches.
  • Rodney Marks is a prankster/hoaxter who will gladly give speeches on subjects he knows nothing about, especially to corporate seminars. He gave a hilarious performance on ABC's Science Show as "Theo Thanos", arguing with host Robyn Williams about the non-existence of death.
  • "America's funnyman" Neil Hamburger's entire act consists of being the worst standup comedian in existence and seeing how quickly he can bore or enrage entire audiences. He regularly gets gigs opening for bands who want to troll their fans.
  • At least one blogger has theorized that Amanda Bynes's freaky Twitter behavior was a Stealth Parody of the site, of its users, and of the news media's obsession with it.
  • Erwin Schrödinger's famous Schrodingers Cat was actually intended to mock the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics (It originally began with the line "One can even set up quite ridiculous cases".) It has instead had somewhat the opposite effect.
  • Some claim that Andy Warhol's entire life and public behavior is just such a parody.
  • The song "Lied der Partei" (hymn of the party) was the song of the Socialist Unity Party, the ruling party of East Germany. It was originally written as an over the top satire on communist propaganda (The chorus translates to "The party, the party, is always right"). Still, they took it seriously and played it on official occasions.
  • “Alt-Right Nearly Turned Me Racist” (Godfrey Elfwick trolled The Guardian).
  1. the broadcast was delayed because of industrial action
  2. They also flipflop between calling it Epic Mickey, Epic Kirby, Mickey's Epic Yarn, etc.