In my case it was the Paul Verhoeven Starship Troopers adaptation. Flipping through the channels one day I came across it, when it was about a third done. I kept wondering why the (personality-deprived) troopers in question were doing the stupidest (tactical) things, with hopelessly outdated & ineffective weaponry, and allowing themselves to get slaughtered in droves. I just assumed it was just another dumb testosterone-fueled action flick, and quickly changed the channel in the midst of my boredom.
Only a number of years later did I discover that it was intended as a parody (of mindless jingoism if not dumb action flicks). Could have fooled me.
When Colbert appeared at the 2006 White House correspondents dinner, the reactions of the administration personnel sure seemed like it. Although, I always wondered whether they knew Colbert’s character was a parody, but expected him to break character for the appearance.
There was an SNL commercial parody of kids’ slot car racing that included an ambulance when the cars crashed; the ambulance was called a “meat wagon.” Someone wrote into Ann Landers complaining about it as if it was a real product.
It was not intended as a parody. Paul Verhoeven said so. His message was that people might inadvertently become fascists. I don’t think he did that particularly well, but it’s pretty clear that that was what he was going for.
What actually is is parodying? War movies? Yet the battle scenes are played straight (and not deadpan). Fascism? No, the characters never expressed any fascist beliefs.
It’s no more a parody than Plan 9 from Outer Space. People mistake ineptitude for intention.
The marketing agency I worked for had great fun one Christmas doing our parody of the Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog. We listed things like a “creative umbrella, “big tent marketing campaign,” “grass roots fertilizer,” a book called “Will It Play in Peoria,” and other marketing catch phrases.” We noted multiple times that everything in our catalog was completely made up and not available from us or anyone else, anywhere, ever.
We were too damn clever. We got dozens of calls from our clients wanting to know if they could get a dozen or so creative umbrellas as gifts for their customers, how many people could fit in the big tent, when Will It Play in Peoria would be published, etc. The next year we went back to traditional Season’s Greeting cards.
This is stretching the definition of parody a little, but… once upon a time I ran a pizza restaurant, one of those places where we sold slices from pies at the front counter. On April 1st one year, during the lunch rush, we put out a pizza topped with whole Vienna sausages and Cheese Whiz. We had great fun watching customers’ reactions and saying “April Fools!” One customer, however, insisted that he wanted a slice. I gave it to him for free, but he took it to go, so I never got to hear if it was any good.
Blur’s Song 2 (song and video) was meant as a joke and a parody of grunge with its typical loud/quiet dynamics and angsty lyrics (nonsense lyrics, in fact). It went over everybody’s head and became their greatest hit and best known song, still played in every second sports stadium around the world today.
I remember listening to the DVD commentary on The Coen Brothers film “Blood Simple” from an alleged “film preservationist”. It took me an embarrassing 15 minutes to figure out it was all nonsense (robotic dogs, upside-down driving shots, and Nick Nolte fistfights), but it was definitely unexpected fun.
As I understand it, Scream was intended to be a parody of slasher movie cliches, but most people seem to have interpreted it as an actual horror movie (I’ve overheard people saying they didn’t think Scream was that scary, for example). A few years later we even got a parody of Scream in the form of Scary Movie.
The one with Richard E Grant in it? That should have been a clue.
“Literally Unbelievable” used to collect examples of people taking The Onion seriously but sadly the site appears to be defunct. 'Tis a pity as it was hilarious - note the last one here (you can’t click on the links to the articles anymore but the thumbnail is sufficient).
Sadly, I’m not familar with Mr Grant’s work. Looking at his list of appearances, I think the only other place I might have seen him recently is on Frasier, where he was a member of the Moon family, and I wouldn’t have made the connection.