The Harvard Lampoon is an undergraduate humor publication founded in 1876 at Harvard University. It is the world’s longest continually published humor magazine. It is also the second longest-running English-language humor magazine, after the ‘Yale Record.’ The organization also produces occasional humor books and parodies of national magazines such as ‘Entertainment Weekly’ and ‘Sports Illustrated.’ Much of the organization’s capital is provided by the licensing of the ‘Lampoon’ name to ‘National Lampoon,’ begun by ‘Harvard Lampoon’ graduates in 1970. The Lampoon is known for its bacchanalian parties, which can result in smashed plates and furniture. Robert K. Hoffman, co-founder of the ‘National Lampoon’ and major donor to the Dallas Museum of Art was a Trustee until his death in 2006, and was declared a Trustee ‘Ad-Infinitum’ a year later. The bone of his pinky finger is said to be encased in a block of lucite in the Harvard Lampoon’s ‘Brainatorium Crypt.’
The Lampoon and its sensibility have been an especially important expression of American humor and comedy since the late 1960s. An important line of demarcation came when Lampoon editors Douglas Kenney and Henry Beard wrote the Tolkien parody ‘Bored of the Rings.’ The success of this book and the attention it brought its authors led directly to the creation of the ‘National Lampoon’ magazine, which spun off a live show ‘Lemmings,’ and then a radio show in the early 1970s, ‘The National Lampoon Radio Hour’ introducing such performers as Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Chevy Chase. Lampoon writers from these shows were subsequently hired to help create ‘Saturday Night Live.’ This was the first in a line of many TV shows that Lampoon graduates went on to write for, including ‘The Simpsons, ‘Late Night with David Letterman,’ ‘Seinfeld, and ‘The Office.’
National Lampoon was both a ground-breaking American humor magazine and also a wide range of productions directly associated with that magazine. The magazine ran from 1970 to 1998, and was originally a spinoff of the ‘Harvard Lampoon’ (is an undergraduate humor publication founded in 1876 at Harvard University). The magazine reached its height of popularity and critical acclaim during the 1970s, when it had a far-reaching effect on American humor. It spawned films, radio, live theater, various kinds of recordings, and print products including books. Many members of the creative staff from the magazine subsequently went on to contribute creatively to successful media of all types.
During the magazine’s most successful years, parody of every kind was a mainstay; surrealist content was also central to its appeal. Almost all the issues included long text pieces, shorter written pieces, a section of actual news items (dubbed ‘True Facts’), cartoons and comic strips. Most issues also included ‘Foto Funnies’ or fumetti (speech balloons), which often featured nudity. The result was an unusual mix of intelligent, cutting-edge wit, and crass, bawdy frat house jesting. In both cases, ‘National Lampoon’ humor often pushed far beyond the boundaries of what was generally considered appropriate and acceptable. As co-founder Henry Beard described the experience years later: ‘There was this big door that said, ‘Thou shalt not.’ We touched it, and it fell off its hinges.’ The magazine declined during the late 1980s and never recovered. It was kept alive minimally, but ceased publication altogether in 1998.
Hillbilly is a term (often derogatory) for people who dwell in rural, mountainous areas of the United States, primarily Appalachia in the east but also the Ozarks in the center of the country. Owing to its strongly stereotypical connotations, the term can be offensive to those Americans of Appalachian heritage. Origins of the term are obscure. According to Anthony Harkins in ‘Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon,’ it first appeared in print in a 1900 ‘New York Journal’ article, with the definition: ‘a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammeled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him.’
The Appalachian region was largely settled in the 18th century by the Ulster Scots, Protestants who migrated to the Irish province of Ulster during the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th century. The majority of these people originated in the lowlands of Scotland. In America, the Ulster Scots became known as the Scotch-Irish. Harkins believes the most credible theory of the term’s origin is that it derives from the linkage of two older Scottish expressions, ‘hill-folk’ and ‘billie’ which was a synonym for ‘fellow,’ similar to ‘guy’ or ‘bloke.’
Randy Mario Poffo (1952 – 2011), better known by his ring name ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, was an American professional wrestler and occasional color commentator. He has held championships with both the WWF and WCW. A one-time WWF Intercontinental Champion, WWE (formerly WWF) has named Savage as the greatest champion of all time and credited him for bringing, ‘a higher level of credibility to the title through his amazing in-ring performances.’ Hulk Hogan, face of the WWF during the professional wrestling ‘Golden Era’ of the 1980s and early 1990s, described Savage as, ‘…the only guy we could pass the belt to, and we wouldn’t lose money…things would stay the same, or get better.’
For most of his tenures in the WWF and WCW, Savage was managed by his real life wife ‘Miss Elizabeth’ Hulette. He was recognizable by wrestling fans for his distinctively deep and raspy voice, his ring attire, intensity exhibited in and out of the ring, his entrance music, ‘Pomp and Circumstance,’ and his signature catchphrase, ‘Ooh yeah!’ Savage died of cardiac arrhythmia while driving with his second wife Barbara Lynn Payne, in Seminole, Florida in 2011.
A howler is a glaring blunder, typically an amusing one. Eric Partridge’s ‘A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English’ (1951) defined it in part as: ‘… A glaring (and amusing) blunder: from before 1890; … also, a tremendous lie … Literally something that howls or cries for notice, or perhaps … by way of contracting howling blunder.’ Another common interpretation of this usage is that a howler is a mistake fit to make one howl with laughter.
All over the world, probably in all natural languages, there are many informal terms for blunders; the English term ‘howler’ occurs in many translating dictionaries. There are other colloquial English words for howler, in particular the mainly United States and Canadian slang term ‘boner’ which has various interpretations, including that of blunder. Like howler, boner can be used in any sense to mean an ignominious and usually laughable blunder, and also like howler, it has been used in the titles of published collections of largely schoolboy blunders since at least the 1930s.
‘Superduperman‘ is a satirical story by cartoonists Harvey Kurtzman and Wally Wood that was published in the fourth issue of ‘Mad’ in 1953. Lampooning both Superman and Captain Marvel, it revolutionized the types of stories seen in ‘Mad,’ leading to greatly improved sales. Writers such as Alan Moore have cited this story as an influence.
The plot parallels the Superman scenario of the period: ‘Clark Bent’ is a lowly assistant to the copy boy at ‘The Daily Dirt’ newspaper, where he tries, unsuccessfully, to woo the narcissistic and indifferent ‘Lois Pain.’ Meanwhile, an ‘unknown monster’ is stalking the streets of the city. Bent changes into Superduperman to help save the day, but ‘boy reporter Billy Spafon’ reveals himself to be the monster, ‘Captain Marbles.’ Superduperman is unable to harm Captain Marbles until he provokes Marbles into punching himself in the head. Hoping this victory will be enough to sway Pain, he reveals his alter ego, only to be rejected again; the story closes with Pain’s putdown: ‘Once a creep, always a creep.’
‘Entropa‘ is a 2009 sculpture by Czech artist David Černý. The project was commissioned by the Czech Republic to mark the occasion of its presidency of the Council of the European Union, and was originally designed as a collaboration for 27 artists and artist groups from all member countries of the European Union.
However, as a hoax, Černý and three of his assistants created a satirical and controversial piece that depicted pointed stereotypes of the EU member nations. Fake artist profiles were also created by Černý and his accomplices, complete with invented descriptions of their supposed contributions. The sculpture was originally on display in the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels.
The reliability of Wikipedia (primarily of the English-language edition), compared to other encyclopedias and more specialized sources, is assessed in many ways, including statistically, through comparative review, analysis of the historical patterns, and strengths and weaknesses inherent in the editing process unique to Wikipedia. Several studies have been done to assess the reliability of Wikipedia. A notable early study in the journal ‘Nature’ said that in 2005, ‘Wikipedia scientific articles came close to the level of accuracy in Encyclopædia Britannica and had a similar rate of ‘serious errors.’ The study was disputed by ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ and later ‘Nature’ responded to this refutation with both a formal response and a point-by-point rebuttal of Britannica’s main objections. Between 2008 and 2010, articles in medical and scientific fields such as pathology, toxicology, oncology, and pharmaceuticals comparing Wikipedia to professional and peer-reviewed sources found that Wikipedia’s depth and coverage were of a high standard. Concerns regarding readability were raised in a study published by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. However, omissions sometimes remained an issue, at times due to public relations removal of adverse product information.
Wikipedia is open to anonymous and collaborative editing, so assessments of its reliability usually include examinations of how quickly false or misleading information is removed. An early study conducted by IBM researchers in 2003—two years following Wikipedia’s establishment—found that ‘vandalism is usually repaired extremely quickly — so quickly that most users will never see its effects’ and concluded that Wikipedia had ‘surprisingly effective self-healing capabilities.’ A 2007 peer-reviewed study stated that ’42% of damage is repaired almost immediately… Nonetheless, there are still hundreds of millions of damaged views.’ Several incidents have also been publicized in which false information has lasted for a long time in Wikipedia. In May 2005, a user edited the biographical article on American journalist John Seigenthaler Sr. so that it contained several false and defamatory statements. The inaccurate information went unnoticed until September of that year. After the information was removed from Wikipedia, it remained for another three weeks on sites which mirror Wikipedia content. A biographical article in French Wikipedia portrayed Léon-Robert de L’Astran as an 18th century anti-slavery ship owner, which led Ségolène Royal, a presidential candidate, to praise him. A student investigation later determined that the article was a hoax and de L’Astran had never existed. Jimmy Wales, the de facto leader of Wikipedia, stresses that encyclopedias of any type are not usually appropriate as primary sources, and should not be relied upon as being authoritative.
Stuff White People Like (SWPL) is a blog that takes a satirical aim at the interests of North American ‘left-leaning, city-dwelling, white folk.’ The blog was created in 2008 by a white Canadian, Christian Lander, a Los Angeles copywriter who grew up in Toronto and graduated from McGill University. Lander co-authored the site with his Filipino Canadian friend Myles Valentin, after Valentin teased Lander for watching the HBO television series ‘The Wire.’ Although the blog ‘has spurred an outpouring from those who view it as offensive and racist,’ it is not about the interests of all white people, but rather a stereotype of affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North Americans, who typically hold a degree in the liberal arts. Lander claims to be lampooning contemporary versions of bohemian/hipster culture, and jokingly refers to other classes and subcultures of white people as ‘the wrong kind of white people.’ Despite the site’s satirical edge, Lander regards the people he describes with affection and numbers himself among them, describing himself as ‘a self-aware, left-wing person who’s not afraid to recognize the selfishness and contradictions that come on the left.’
The core concept of the Online Disinhibition Effect refers to a loosening (or complete abandonment) of social restrictions and inhibitions that would otherwise be present in normal face-to-face interaction during interactions with others on the Internet. Because of the loss of inhibition, some users may exhibit benign tendencies; people may become more affectionate, more willing to open up to others, less guarded about their emotions and may speak to others about what they are feeling in an attempt to achieve emotional catharsis. According to psychologist John Suler, this particular occurrence is called benign disinhibition. With respect to bad behavior, users on the Internet can frequently do or say as they wish without fear of any kind of meaningful reprisal. In most Internet forums, the worst kind of punishment one can receive for bad behavior is usually being banned from a particular site. In practice, however, this serves little use; the person involved can usually circumvent the ban by simply registering another username and continuing the same behavior as before. Suler calls this toxic disinhibition.
CB radio during the 1970s saw similar bad behavior: ‘Most of what you hear on CB radio is either tedious (truck drivers warning one another about speed traps) or banal (schoolgirls exchanging notes on homework), but at its occasional—and illegal—worst it sinks a pipeline to the depths of the American unconscious. Your ears are assaulted by the sound of racism at its most rampant, and by masturbation fantasies that are the aural equivalent of rape. The sleep of reason, to quote Goya’s phrase, brings forth monsters, and the anonymity of CB encourages the monsters to emerge.’read more »
Valley Girl is a stereotype leveled at a socio-economic and ethnic class of American women who can be described as colloquial English-speaking and materialistic. Valspeak is also a form of this trait, based on an exaggerated version of ’80s California English. The term originally referred to the ever increasing number of semi-affluent and affluent middle-class and upper-middle class girls living in the bedroom community neighborhoods of San Fernando Valley. Due to the Valley’s proximity to the Hollywood media machine, the demographic group which the term stereotyped garnered large exposure to the rest of the world.
Consequently, the use became more general, and the stereotype can be found all over the United States, and also in other countries in different forms. During the 1980s and 1990s, in common with the trend in community orientation, interest, and education, the term metamorphosed into a caricature and stereotype of such women: a ‘ditzy’ or ‘airhead’ personality, and unapologetically ‘spoiled’ behavior that showed more interest in shopping, personal appearance and social status than in intellectual development or personal accomplishment.
Heavy Metal is an American science fiction and fantasy comics magazine, known primarily for its blend of dark fantasy/science fiction and erotica. In the mid-1970s, while publisher Leonard Mogel was in Paris to jump-start the French edition of ‘National Lampoon,’ he discovered the French science-fantasy magazine ‘Métal Hurlant’ which had debuted in 1974. The French title translates literally as ‘Howling Metal.’ When Mogel licensed the American version, he chose to rename it, and ‘Heavy Metal’ began in the U.S. in 1977 as a glossy, full-color monthly. Initially, it displayed translations of graphic stories originally published in ‘Métal Hurlant,’ including work by Enki Bilal, Jean Giraud (also known as Moebius), Philippe Druillet, Milo Manara and Philippe Caza. The magazine later ran Stefano Tamburini and Tanino Liberatore’s ultra-violent ‘RanXerox.’ Since the color pages had already been shot in France, the budget to reproduce them in the U.S. version was greatly reduced.
Métal Hurlant (literal translation: ‘Screaming Metal’) is a French comics anthology of science fiction and horror comics stories, created in December 1974 by comics artists Jean Giraud (better known as Moebius) and Philippe Druillet together with journalist-writer Jean-Pierre Dionnet and financial director Bernard Farkas. The four were collectively known as ‘Les Humanoïdes Associés’ (‘United Humanoids’), which became the name of the publishing house releasing ‘Métal Hurlant.’ It was published in the US by National Lampoon under the title ‘Heavy Metal.’ The magazine was originally released quarterly; it consisted of 68 pages, of which only 18 were in color. Contributors included Moebius and Druillet, and such characters Arzach and Lone Sloane. Later issues featured Richard Corben, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Enki Bilal, Caza, Serge Clerc, Alain Voss, Berni Wrightson, Milo Manara, Frank Margerin and many others.
Apart from comics, the magazine contained articles about science fiction books and movies, as well as music and videogame reviews. ‘Metal Hurlant,’ emphasizing complex graphics, cinematic imagery and surreal storylines, was highly influential throughout the world as one of the first mature expressions of ‘adult’ comic book making. It ceased publication in 1987.
Radical chic is a term coined by journalist Tom Wolfe in his 1970 essay ‘Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s,’ to describe the adoption and promotion of radical political causes by celebrities, socialites, and high society. The concept has been described as ‘an exercise in double-tracking one’s public image: on the one hand, defining oneself through committed allegiance to a radical cause, but on the other, vitally, demonstrating this allegiance because it is the fashionable, au courant way to be seen in moneyed, name-conscious Society.’ Unlike dedicated activists, revolutionaries, or dissenters, those who engage in radical chic remain frivolous political agitators. They are ideologically invested in their cause of choice only so far as it advances their social standing.
‘Terrorist chic’ is a modern expression with similar connotations. This derivative, however, de-emphasizes the class satire of Wolfe’s original term, instead accentuating concerns over the semiotics of radicalism (such as the aestheticization of violence).
Jewish humor is self-deprecating, crude, and often anecdotal humor originating in Eastern Europe, which took root in the United States over the last hundred years. Beginning with vaudeville, and continuing through radio, stand-up comedy, film, and television, a disproportionately high percentage of American and Russian comedians have been Jewish. Jewish humor is rooted in several traditions. The first is the intellectual and legal methods of the Talmud, which uses elaborate arguments and situations often seen as so absurd as to be humorous in order to tease out the meaning of religious law. There is an egalitarian tradition among the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe in which the powerful were often mocked subtly, rather than attacked overtly—as Saul Bellow once put it, ‘oppressed people tend to be witty.’ Jesters known as badchens used to poke fun at prominent members of the community during weddings, creating a good-natured tradition of humor as a levelling device.
Rabbi Moshe Waldoks, a scholar of Jewish humor, argued: ‘You have a lot of shtoch, or jab humor, which is usually meant to deflate pomposity or ego, and to deflate people who consider themselves high and mighty. But Jewish humor was also a device for self-criticism within the community, and I think that’s where it really was the most powerful. The humorist, like the prophet, would basically take people to task for their failings. The humor of Eastern Europe especially was centered on defending the poor against the exploitation of the upper classes or other authority figures, so rabbis were made fun of, authority figures were made fun of and rich people were made fun of. It really served as a social catharsis.’