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July 30, 2007

Be careful what you parody

At long last I got my hands on the new Thursday Next novel (thank you, Borders Express, which apparently had the only copy left in my corner of northern Virginia). So far I'm enjoying it as expected. But I confess that one particular satirical passage gave me pause:

"Incredibly enough, reality TV has just gotten worse."

"Is that possible?" I asked. "Wasn't Celebrity Trainee Pathologist the pits?" I thought for a moment. "Actually, Whose Life Support Do We Switch Off? was worse. Or maybe Sell Your Granny. Wow, the choice these days makes it all so tricky to decide."

Bowden laughed.

"I'll agree that Granny lowered the bar for distasteful program makers everywhere, but RTA-TV, never one to shrink from a challenge, has devised Samaritan Kidney Swap. Ten renal-failure patients take turns trying to convince a tissue-typed donor -- and the voting viewers -- which one should have his spare kidney."

It makes me nervous when people write stuff like this about TV, especially reality TV, because it seems as if, without fail, the wildest parodies people can make up always end up coming true sooner or later. It's as if the reality TV gods keep tabs on these things and make them real just to punish the irreverent. "Samaritan Kidney Swap? Brilliant! Now, which network should we shop it to?"

But enough doom and gloom. Kristine, here's one just for you. Bear in mind that these stories are set in a universe where books have a world all their own, complete with a special police force to keep things in order.  (In The Eyre Affair, for instance, Jane Eyre had an unhappy ending until Thursday, Fforde's heroine, inadvertently changed it by jumping into the novel to catch a criminal.) So we have this from a routine Jurisfiction briefing:

"The inexplicable departure of comedy from the Thomas Hardy novels is still a cause for great concern."

"Hadn't we put a stop to that?" asked Emperor Zhark.

"Not at all," replied Bradshaw. "We tried to have the comedy that was being leached out replaced by fresh comedy coming in, but because misery has a greater natural affinity for the Wessex novels, it always seems to gain the ascendancy. Hard to believe Jude the Obscure was once the most rip-roaringly funny novel in the English language, eh?"

Now there's food for thought. :-)

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NW Ohio Anglican

This relates to Chris Johnson's Law concerning the Episcopal Church. Rephrased, it's "any satire about television will come true."

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