A gentleman by the name of Azman Naim suddenly becomes an internet sensation in Malaysia. His parody version of My Way, an evergreen song made popular by legendary singer Frank Sinatra has captured the attention of Malaysians including the Sultan of Johor and Johor’s Crown Prince (TMJ). In his twitter post, the TMJ wrote ‘Legend. First class’ in praising Azman’s parody work and has ‘requested for the young man to be found’.
Generally, in the lyric of My Way parody song, Azman expresses the despair feeling among Malaysians who have not received vaccines. The song is not the first parody work penned and presented by him. In fact, from the beginning of MCO last year, the long-haired, 36-year-old Johorean has uploaded many other parody songs which contain blues lyrics, expressing a feeling of depression and deep unhappiness.
From the historical perspective, parody has been used a medium to protest against oppression by the people in power since as early as during Greek civilisation. Plato was said to have used parody to make fun of self-important Athenians who took themselves and their role as guardians of civilization too seriously.
The critical nature of parody can also be traced way back to the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods where carnival tradition was very popular. In his work ‘Rabelais and His World’, Mikhail Bakhtin who was a Russian philosopher, scholar and literary critic defined carnival as a form of comedy that was very popular during Medieval Europe.
The carnival refers to a specific time of the year when aspects of society turned into opposite order and these actions were sanctioned by the authority. During the carnival celebration, the lower-class people including the poor and oppressed were allowed to laugh at the powerful. In fact, even religion was subject to ridiculing humour.
The colourful event provided a space for expression of humour and displeasure during a time of rigid class structure, oppression of the public and seriousness encouraged by medieval churches. It was also revealed that parody was a core part of the carnival celebration and was used by the lower class and oppressed people to express dissatisfactions and criticise the people in power and authority including churches in a humorous manner.
The use of parody as a coping and healing strategy and medium to show protest and discontent continue to thrive in the modern day society especially at places where conflict take place. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the creation and wide circulation of parody. As people continue to stay at home, spend their time online where information is easily created while the feeling of discomfort and discontent persist, we can expect more parody songs, video clips, photos and news to be circulated and shared online.
Dr. Azmi Abdul Latiff
Centre for Communication Science (CComS)
Centre for Language Studies
Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)