In honor of April Fools’ Day, here are some of the Web’s best parody and commentary sites.
Ah, the marketplace of free ideas. Courts have ruled that parody is a protected form of speech under both the First Amendment to the Constitution and the “fair use” clause of the Copyright Act of 1976 (17 USC 107). The Web has given parodists and commentators a new medium in which to publish their often controversial works. And so, in honor of April Fools’ Day, here are some of the Web’s best parody and commentary sites. I have chosen to exclude the old, the tired, and the stale parody sites in favor of those that are more current. Also, I have included those that, for the most part, are tongue-in-cheek, not in-your-face. Enjoy, and see you on the Net!
1. Russell & Tate – Attorneys at Law. Based on the characters from NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL), this may be the first law firm Web site parody. You’ve got to love their e-mail address: WeGetYoMoney@russelltate.com! All I can conclude about this site is that its creators must be SNL fans with way too much spare time on their hands. (If you guessed that I was involved with the development of this site, you’re right!) (http://www.russelltate.com/)
2. The Corporation. Did you ever wonder who invented the Internet? I’ll give you a hint – it was The Corporation. This site is a very slick parody of corporate American and corporate Web sites. Be sure to check out the “Icon Gallery” for the latest (and greatest?) in net awards. (http://www.thecorporation.com/)
3. Yeeeoww!. A current and clever parody of Yahoo. What I live about this site is that the parodists do not take themselves seriously. Their corporate office page from their main site (www.yeeeoww.com) proclaims “Another pointless diatribe from Yeeeoww!!! Digital Lampoon.” (http://www.yeeeoww.com/yecch/yecchhome.html)
4. Whitehouse.Net. A parody of the official White House site (which is www.whitehouse.gov). But with the official site boasting (at one time) a sound lip of Socks the Cat meowing, is this a case of art imitating life? My favorite link from the home page is the one that says “Why?: Because we like you.” That one also explains the motivation of the authors of this site. (http://www.whitehouse.net/)
5. Why AOL Sucks. This one is in-your-face. But you’ve got to admire this individual’s dedication to the cause: criticizing America Online. Clearly, he’d rather fight and switch (whereas most of us would probably do the latter if we were displeased with AOL). (http://www.aolsucks.org/)
6. Sarcasm.Com. I first discovered this site by guessing various names for Web sites. This site contains high-tech and biting parodies of Netscape, Microsoft, and C|Net. You can pick your poison with Sarcasm.Com’s “Network Worldview Changer.” (http://www.sarcasm.com/)
7. Nedscape. I laughed out loud at this site. There are many Netscape parodies, but this one is clearly the best. Check out the site’s pseudo-motto: “Your guide to navigating the Ned.” This site is everything that a parody site should be. (http://www.nedscape.com/)
8. HigherSource.Org. At first glance, this site appears to be a heartless parody of the mass suicide of the 39 members of Heaven’s Gate cult. But it is not. This site is a commentary on the tendency of the popular press to generalize about all things Internet. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of Net professionals are neither pornographers or cultists. The site also serves a useful educational and historic purpose, because it contains the full text of the two Web sites operated by The Heaven’s Gate cult: www.heavensgate.com and www.highersource.com. (http://www.highersource.org/)
9. The Bull Street Journal. A frequently updated parody of The Wall Street Journal. When I visited the site, there was an article about how an advertising agency executive convinced Pepsi to embark on a bold new advertising campaign: throw out your Pepsi! Very entertaining reading. (http://www.titanicstudios.com/)
10. PumpkinCenter. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This site contains art and parodies of art. Try this test at home or at the office. Show the site to a friend without telling them that it’s a parody. See if they figure it out. I’m still trying! (http://www.pumpkincenter.com/)