Think of the greatest comedy movies from your childhood: Austin Powers, Hot Shots!, and Scary Movie – just to name a few. All of these are spoofs. There was a time when the spoof genre reigned supreme above all other forms of comedic cinema, but sadly that era seems to have come to a close. Despite its long history of iconic films – ranging from Naked Gun to Spaceballs – the spoof genre has experienced a sharp decline in quality in recent years, leaving all of us to wonder where exactly things went wrong.

In recent years we have seen plenty of mediocre spoofs come and go, and yet none have managed to capture the magic of the genre during its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s. The recent release of 50 Shades of Black only further solidifies the notion that we’re witnessing the death of the modern spoof. After dissecting some of the most beloved – as well as most painful – spoofs in recent memory, we may have figured it out. Let’s take a quick look and examine the reasons why this once great genre is on the verge of its inevitable death

50 Shades
Modern Spoofs Lack Focus
One of the most egregious issues facing modern spoofs is the simple fact that most of them lack a specific target when it comes to whatever topic they lampoon. For an example of such a phenomenon one need only look at the recent release of 50 Shades of Black. Despite the fact that the Marlon Wayans comedy frames itself as a parody of the recent 50 Shades of Grey, it goes off on needless tangents to poke fun at other recent cultural touchstones like Magic Mike and the Kardashian family – firing wildly at whatever subject seems ripe for parody. When this happens the spoof no longer becomes a spoof, it’s basically a "best of" compilation of pop culture references over the last few years.

On the other hand, some spoofs have become so specific in their subject matter that they essentially act like inside jokes. Movies like Meet the Spartans and A Haunted House do not tell their own story; they take the stories of movies like 300 or Paranormal Activity and simply inject slapstick humor or grossout gags into plots we have already become familiar with. The best spoofs of all time take easily identifiable genres and tropes, but still manage to tell their own story. One can watch a movie like Airplane! without having seen any of the classic 1970s disaster movies and still pick up on the ideas and genre cliches that are being made fun of.

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