Intertextuality: Pastiche and parody

Pastiche and parody are both examples of INTERTEXCTUALITY. Intertextuality is the defining of a work’s meaning through the understanding of other texts. Look at this example from the Simpsons. It’s meaning is made when you understand that it’s a reference to the film Silence of the Lambs.

The image of Monty in restraints links him to the mass murderer Hannibal Lecter. If you have the foreknowledge of Lecter then you can make the connection; monty is evil. Intertextuality is like a short cut to meaning, it uses people’s understanding of media texts to make new meanings.


Pastiche is the imitation of a text’s features by another text. It could be in the same style or feature similar motifs or even be a copy of the original. Sometimes a pastiche copies the style form a period in time. Here’s an example of pastiche. It’s Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It takes its style from 1950s horror movies and 1980s Zombie movies. So complete is the pastiche that it was directed by John Landis who made An American Werewolf in London.

Make the comparison to this.

The Blur Video for The Universal uses elements of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. You can make your own comparisons.

Blur love a pastiche and if it’s a pastiche of art films they love it even more. Compare their video for To the End to the trailer for Alain Resnais’ Last year at Marienbad. It’s almost identical.

Pulp aren’t quite so literal with their video for This is Hardcore. They borrow style from Film Noir and colour saturation from Hitchcock films like Marnie.

There’s a brilliant article here on Lady Gaga’s career pastiche of Madonna. It’s from the Critical Cookie blog.


Parody is pretty much the same but is a comic version of the original. Parody often exaggerates features of the original. Anything that takes itself too seriously is up for parody. Compare the two videos below. Which elements are being parodied?

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