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. Unless it's a stealth parody... of stealth parodies
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.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
Some people claim Gurren Lagann is this, which completely goes against the Word Of God as the creators are very open about being gigantic mecha fans and the show being a tribute to the genre.
Some have speculated that Death Note is a covert Deconstruction of Shōnen tropes. Despite being a dark crime thriller with a megalomaniacal mass-murderer for a protagonist, when you get down to it it contains all the basic elements of a typical shonen series, albeit in forms twisted nearly beyond recognition: a young, justice-loving Chaste Hero (a narcissistic Knight Templar with delusions of godhood) who discovers magical powers (a notebook that can be used to instantly murder anybody) and gains a Spirit Buddy (an amoral embodiment of death), makes a Worthy Opponent rival (a detective trying to apprehend him for his crimes) and picks up a persistent Genki Girl love interest (a vapid pop idol who's fanatically obsessed with him and, despite barely knowing him, is instantly willing to kill for, die for and marry him). If the satire was intended on the part of Tsugumi Ohba, he/she sure hasn't let on.
While Soul Eater can be taken at face value, it is quite likely that it is simply a long joke about Shōnen stereotypes. Black*Star and Tsubaki are widely considered to be expies of Naruto and Hinata, many of Maka's lines can be taken directly from Ed, and Soul has an interesting resemblance in backstory to Gokudera. The idea that the Grim Reaper is scary is thrown out the window, and a blatantly obvious love interest is thrown in and shoved in the face of the audience, but nothing happens. The author also said in an interview that he was really only considering putting in one or two canon pairings, and soon after put two minor characters in a relationship. The fandom was not happy. He seems to enjoy messing with his audience, although the show is still considered serious by many.
The Panty And Stocking episode "Ghost: The Phantom of Daten City" is often considered to be a stealth parody, though young teenage fangirls often take the episode rather seriously.
Believe it or not, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 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. (Although the line was pretty blurred even at the start—the only thing that makes TMNT #1 a parody and not a straight example of the form, aside from the Daredevil references, is the ridiculousness of a ninja revenge story with four turtles and a rat in the leading roles.)
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.
Some of the earliest fanfic Stealth Parodies come from the Star Trek fandom. For example, the writer known as Fred, Lover of Wesley's Ass was the creation of three or four of the most influential DS9 fanfic writers of the 1990s. "Fred"'s stories parodied everything from songfics to Die for Our Ship to the tendency to turn strong characters into Woobies. Naturally, fans loved his stories. They even thought Fred was real, which in fact he was - he was one of the parodists' dogs.
The Harry Potter fanfic, My Immortal is a possible example. The author has never slipped up and has a friend, Raven, who doesn't have the troll qualities the author has. However, her name (Tara Gilesbie) may have been borrowed from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the fic itself is so over the top it's hard to believe it was serious.
Harry Potter fandom is full of this kind of thing.
If she took the names from Buffy, she deliberately picked the least similar character to what she was writing about. Tara was probably the exact opposite of her and Giles was just not "gothic" in any way.
Squirrelking, who claims to be a non-native speaker, but it does not account for his frequent insertion of new characters for no reason, and his unflinching, almost poetic ability to make a sentence go clunk. Was confirmed as Troll Fic by the author in 2009.
The Ben Chatham Adventures may be this. Certainly, the stories by Lemon Bloody Cola were, and so are the ones by his new regeneration, Mutie.
The entire online persona of this series' author, Sparacus, could also fall here; he's either an incredibly nuanced (if very long running) parody of a certain typeof fan or a deadly serious example of that certain type of fan.
The creator of Legolas By Laura allegedly at one point claimed the fic was a Stealth Parody, but another time tried to excuse the horrificness by claiming she had learning difficulties. Another theory is that she was simply a lot younger than she claimed to be - she said she was fifteen, but the relentless run-on "and then" sentence structure suggest nine- or ten-year-old. It's unknown what its true status is.
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.
The good South African folk responsible for MST3K-bait movie Space Mutiny insist that it's a parody of space adventure films. This claim has been met with skepticism.
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!
Hobgoblins writer and director Rick Sloane has claimed that the film was a parody.
Tommy Wiseau's So Bad, It's Good film The Room was written and filmed as a relationship melodrama, but after the movie started gaining an ironic cult following, Wiseau started referencing it as aBlack 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. If this is true, no one apparently noticed while it was being made.
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.
Bette Davis’ over the top hammy performance in the 1949 film Beyond the Forest was quite deliberate; she thought the script was irredeemable trash, hated being coerced into appearing in the film, and set out to give it the performance she felt it deserved.
Gulliver's 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.
Horace Miner's famous essay Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. 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.
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 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 can be explained as being genuine advice in hopes that the prince would solidify his power and then lead the country back to a republican form of government. Essentially, the idea was to quell dissonance and pave the way to a republican or representative democracy form of government. In "The Republic" Machiavelli makes it clear that he views The Republic, with all levels of society being represented (though not necessarily equally) as the best, and perhaps only just, form of government.
It's quite possible the entire IG-88 saga of the Star WarsExpanded 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 1st*
the broadcast was delayed because of industrial action
, 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.
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.
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 You Tube comments section into believing he's real.
Die Prinzen's song "Deutschland" is believed by many people, especially those not fluent in German, to be a German pride song. Seemingly all of the lyrics sing the praise of Germany, though there are two give-aways towards the end which hint that the song is actually a parody of nationalism. One is the line "Wir sind jederzeit für 'nen Krieg bereit" (We're always ready for a war) which can be taken as a criticism of Germany's past. The second is a joke that doesn't work very well in English. "Wir können stolz auf Deutschland... SCHWEIN! Schwein... Schwein..." During the hold after "Deutschland," it seems like they're going to say "sein." Which would make the sentence "We can be proud of Germany." Instead, they say Schwein, which means "pig." The album that this song is on was released on the 40th anniversary of the building of the Berlin wall, another stealthy jab at the band's native land.
Anal Cunt. Look at the You Tube 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.
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 since 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 areGag 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Frogs' It's Only Right And Natural, though the "stealth" aspect was more in how it was marketed than in the actual content: The band had recorded a series of improvised home-made tapes full of Black Comedy and over-the-top depictions of Depraved Homosexuals, meant for their own amusement and that of a few friends. Then they agreed to let Homestead Records release 14 of their homosexual-themed songs as an album, Homestead put out a press release about them being leaders of a "new gay supremacy movement", and they started playing concerts in character. The bait was taken by conservative Christian documentary Hells Bells: The Dangers Of Rock & Roll, which included a brief segment of "Gather Round For Saviour #2", apparently taking its message that children should reject Christianity in favor of homosexuality at face value.
According to this article in The Atlantic, PSY's popular, South Korean YouTube sensation, "Gangnam Style" is a Stealth Parody of materialism and Conspicuous Consumption in his home country. Though it's not very stealthy once you know the cultural background; the video in particular is very blatant about its satire of rich and wannabe-rich people.
Similar to LMFAO, PSY and (maybe) Ke$ha, Die Antwoord is a satirical rap group from South Africa that uses of white lower-class imagery. It's sometimes obvious due to all the Boastful Rap, the arguably not-so-good lyrics and if you know the couple's previous musical projects, but when they became known internationally, most people, including even media specialized in music, were unaware that Ninja and Yo-Landi are just personas, which divided international audiences in two groups: those who take them seriously and think that they really suck, and those who take them seriously and like them for the cheap style.
Michael Cole, the perenial scrappy who has frequently been bashed by the smark community for being a "Poor man's JR", has recently took to parodying his past characteristics following his Face Heel Turn. His current gimmick is an extremely arrogant Ted Baxter who intentionally plays off his past criticisms.
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.
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.
In the US, Phil Hendrie's syndicated radio show follows a very similar formula; both 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.
April 1st, 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 1st April, 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.
Clarification: Pandaren first appeared as neutral hostile creeps in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, and by the expansion, Frozen Throne, Pandaren Brewmasters were available as neutral heroes. However, it was indeed World of Warcraft that introduced them as a fully fledged race.
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.
Metal Gear Solid games, especially the second one (but also the fourth) are sometimes accused of this.
It's possible that Treasure's Light Crusader is a deliberate parody of the Western RPG. The game, with its bland Westernized graphics and its cliched plot, is completely different from everything they did before or since: slow-paced, interspersed with puzzles, viewed with an isometric perspective they never used again, and with all of their usual gimmicks completely absent. Maybe it is just a homage to Western games which was not too well received, but notice how one of the villains is the ghost of a wizard named Garriott...
Powerup 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.
It spawned a parody, Powercup Comics, which is thus a parody of a parody.
As a result of the general quality (Or lack thereof) of video comments on You Tube, xkcd once proposed a challenge: Write a stealth parody comment on You Tube that was so stupid, people would immediately recognize it as a parody. Naturally, this is all but impossible.
Similarly, some Weekly World News items have been taken seriously by people who didn't check up on where their news was coming from. This was sometimes exacerbated by some news aggregators (lookin' at you Yahoo) that mixed the WWN in with the normal gossip news.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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. Rational Wiki has described this as a "Poe Paradox", in which people who are too far to the left of his own position (which is most of the genuinely well-intentioned editors who otherwise broadly align with his political views) are banned as being potential parodists, while the ones extreme enough to make the grade are the most likely to be trolls upholding their Kayfabe.
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.
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.
Half the summaries and gripes about the plot and gags tend to be horribly off, or avoids touching the writing entirely in favor of ranting about a short sight gag for the whole review. Which fits the bill for a hater who does not know Japanese... except Seiha is a game translator. People who pretendthey know what they're hating on are a definite target.
Things like fairy tale references in Ookami-san are not easy to miss regardless of the language, either.
There are still commentors who use her "opinions" as a basis to skip the show. On the other hand, they could just be in on the joke.
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*
Nyan~ 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 reviews of Caligula and Pieces(where Brad appears As Himself to explain the whole thing up front), 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 hateanything 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.
The "le monkey face" meme is an example of this. For some backstory: The expression "that really rustled my jimmies" became a huge injoke on 4chan, being associated with an angry-looking gorilla. An opposite expression, "My jimmies remain unrustled", became associated with the calm-looking gorilla found on the Gorilla Munch cereal box. One day, this comic◊, allegedly from Reddit, was posted on 4chan, allegedly from Reddit, showing that the Gorilla Munch gorilla had been made into a stereotypical rage face called "le monkey face". 4chan users were initially furious that their beloved injoke had been butchered by another website, but it then turned out that the comic was in fact a parody of the various unfunny rage comics that sites like Reddit and 9gag are host to, posted for the sake of trolling 4chan. "Le monkey face" has begun to see further usage outside of 4chan in deliberately-unfunny rage comic parodies.
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."
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 foolingTo Tell the Truth (and not just the panelists, but the entire production staff as well);
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.
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.
It's commonly thought that the expression "Luck of the Irish" refers to how lucky the Irish are. It's actually a joke among the Irish about how unlucky they are. Their country's had a very long history of violence and occupation, and then they faced huge amounts of discrimination as immigrants in America.
You like to think that that political pundit you don't like is one of these.