In Search of Web Parody

Archive for March 2009

Last November, 1.2 million fake copies of the New York Times were handed out across the nation.  The 14-page newspaper was future-dated July 2009 and announced the end of the wars  in both Iran and Afghanistan along with other news such as progress made in reversing global warming, national health insurance legislation, and the repeal of the Patriot Act.  

The fake edition of the newspaper appeared on this website:  http://www.nytimes-se.com/.   The official response from the New York Times can be read here.

 This parody was the work of numerous activists trying to envision a better world by showing what could be  possible under the leadership of a new President. 

Personally, I tend to prefer parodies that are served up with a side order of funny (or nasty!).  This is neither.  This is more like the New York Times of parody – – serious and with a purpose.  And given the current state of newspapers and the New York Times in particular, the fact that there even is a July 2009 paper edition of The Times is a bit of a spoof (oooh… nasty!)

 

Spoof online edition of The New York Times

Spoof online edition of The New York Times

 

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In October 1994, the Clinton Administration launched the first official White House website under the url whitehouse.gov.  Shortly thereafter, the first White House parody sites began to appear. If you are at all interested in the history of whitehouse.gov, Scientific American has an interesting slideshow:  A Pictorial Evolution of the POTUS Website.

The first version of whitehouse.org appeared in 1996.  You can view it via the Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine” at http://web.archive.org/web/19961228060720/http://whitehouse.org/  The early content of the site focused on Clinton’s reelection campaign.

Clinton White House parody at Whitehouse.org

Clinton White House parody at Whitehouse.org

 

The first version of whitehouse.net also appeared in 1996.  Here is a version  from 1999  courtesy of The Wayback Machine at http://web.archive.org/web/19990125092732/http://whitehouse.net/  This site closely resembles the official whitehouse.gov site.

Clinton White House parody at whitehouse.net

Clinton White House parody at whitehouse.net

 

There is another Clinton White House parody site at http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Alley/7028/whiteho.htm that is also based on the format of the official whitehouse.gov site at that time.  This website has some decent content under the “Tour the White House” section of the site.  If you click on that, you’ll be taken to Virtual White House Tour page that shows a clickable map of the White House. 

 The html code doesn’t work exactly correctly here (hey, this was written back in the 1990s!), so you end up on a page with a list of .htm files.  If you click on each of those, you’ll see the page for that area of the White House.

Clinton White House parody

Clinton White House parody

 

The last Clinton White House parody site I found was at http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/page17.index.html.  There is not much original content on this site.  All of the links go to other sites (example: “The President & Vice President” goes to freerepublic.com; the “Commonly Requested Federal Services” goes to cia.gov; “Site News” goes to cnn.com;  you get the picture…)  I am including this site here just for the purpose of completeness.

Yet another Clinton White House parody

Yet another Clinton White House parody

 

I would be remiss if I did not mention the whitehouse.com site.  This website was extremely controversial because it was an “X-rated” adult site.  Apparently, many unsuspecting people looking for the real White House site (including school children) accidentally stumbled upon this one. 

The guy made a million bucks and eventually sold the domain name and it has since gone from being a real estate site to a search engine (using White Pages and Yellow Pages listings) to a live TV broadcasting site. 

The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine did not archive this site (for obvious reasons), so no link back to “the good old days”.   You can, however,  read the 1997 letter from the White House Counsel’s office regarding this site.

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By far, the most comprehensive White House parody site to date is at whitehouse.org.  Or should I say, WAS at whitehouse.org.  The site has been permanently archived  and can now be found at http://whitehouse.georgewbush.org where George W. Bush will live on forever as the Leader of the Free World.  

This Bush parody site goes back to 2001 and ends at Inauguration Day 2009.  In 2002, the website owner received a letter from the Office of the Vice President protesting the site’s biography of Lynne Cheney.  A copy of this letter can be viewed here at ChillingEffects.org.

This website is very funny, well-written, and definitely worth a look if you haven’t already seen it. 

This site can be found at whitehouse.georgewbush.org

This site can be found at whitehouse.georgewbush.org

 
There is another Bush parody site at http://whitehouse.net.   This one is very limited in scope but is interesting in the sense that it changes each time when you refresh the browser.  There are four versions that come up:

  • the page with the green White House
  • the “Your Ad Here” version
  • the “Spanish” version of the page
  • and my favorite – the Chinese Hackerz Was Here version  
WhiteHouse.net - Green version

WhiteHouse.net - Green version

 

WhiteHouse.net - Your Ad Here version

WhiteHouse.net - Your Ad Here version

 

WhiteHouse.net - Spanish version

WhiteHouse.net - Spanish version

 

WhiteHouse.net - Chinese Hackerz version

WhiteHouse.net - Chinese Hackerz version

 

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Regardless of your political views, you have to admit that the parody writers would have loved having John McCain and Sarah Palin in the White House.   Here is a parody site that imagines a newly-elected President John McCain and Vice President Sarah Palin.  The format of the site is the same as the Bush whitehouse.gov.  

 The McCain/Palin White House page links to two other pages: a State Department parody page where the topic is “Educating Sarah”;  and an FBI look-alike parody page detailing an investigation of Sarah Palin using the Marine One helicopter for aerial hunting.  

 Ahhhh yes, just think of the possibilities!!!

 

This website can be found at mccain.sundryweb.com

This website can be found at mccain.sundryweb.com

 

 

This page is accessed via a link from the McCain/Palin parody page

This page is accessed via a link from the McCain/Palin parody page

 

This page is also accessed via a link from the McCain/Palin parody page

This page is also accessed via a link from the McCain/Palin parody page

 

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At noon on January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as President.  Also at noon, the new whitehouse.gov website and blog went online.  Apparently, so did the new Obama White House Parody website at http://whitehouse.gov1.info.

The parody site has the same format as the real site.   One big difference between the two sites is the blog.  On the real whitehouse.gov, the blog is written by some PR guy.  In the parody site, each blog entry is written by President Obama.   Some of the entries are written like the way one would imagine Obama writing them if he really had the freedom to write what was on his mind (ie;  January 20th’s “The Oath – Not My Bad!”)

This website can be found at whitehouse.gov1.info

This website can be found at whitehouse.gov1.info

This website currently has 24 blog posts going all the way back to Inauguration Day.  Like the real site, there is also a section on the President’s Agenda.  In addition to standard fare such as Social Security and the Economy, you’ll also find “DeBushification” and “The Next Hawaii Vacation” among the Agenda items.

Add in a Photo Gallery, Video Gallery, and the well-stocked “Obama Store” and you pretty much have an idea of what the site is about.   Overall, I’d say the tone was more humorous than critical except for Obama’s rants against the Republicans in some of his blog posts.  The March 23’s “My Bowling Remark on the Tonight Show” was a little “out there”, buy hey it’s a parody. Let’s hope the authors have the stamina to keep this site up-to-date.  

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