Thanks for the warm welcome. I've been an avid (if lurking) reader of LawCulture for some time now and am very happy to be upping the ante by becoming a regular contributor.
I'm interested in parody and pop culture as tools that can help to disrupt discourses that are stuck or recalcitrant to change. The humor behind parody has great disruptive potential, as does the populist sensibility that informs certain sites of culture. In the piece of mine that Jessica mentioned in her post, I use a soap opera's parody of patriarchal authority to send up and disrupt the attachment to the founding fathers that arises again and again in contemporary constitutional interpretation, even amongst liberals like Ronald Dworkin. That the disruption comes from a populist source in the form of a soap opera is a great bonus, as scholars have long been concerned that a lack of democratic authority in contemporary constitutional discourse seems to undermine judicial legitimacy.
Here's another example I've been thinking about lately. In a class I taught recently, I used three rock videos to show how pop culture and parody can both support and subvert sex and gender norms. (Each of these videos is available on youtube.com) We started out with Robert Palmer's classic 80's video "Addicted to Love," (click here to view) in which Palmer fronts a band of seemingly identical, heavily made up women, "playing" instruments behind him, looking vacant and passive, occassionally licking their lips seductively or just appearing as legs, and other body parts, with Palmer singing about how they're gonna have to face that they're, well, addicted to love.
We then looked at Michelle Shocked's parody of Palmer's video, "On the Greener Side," (click here to view)which turns the Palmer video on its head by fronting Shocked and objectifying the boys in the band, showing them posing in bathing suits and so forth, while she sings about how their love is always greener on the greener side. While Shocked's video highlights the absurdity of the sex and gender norms foregrounded in the Palmer video by exagerrating them and placing them in a different context, her reversal can't hold a candle to Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like a Woman." (That's right, Shania Twain.) (click here to view) In her video, Twain starts out as the frontman, wearing clothes and adopting poses similar to Palmer's in the original video. By the middle of the video she has stripped off the male costume and transformed into a female, looking much like the women in the original video, perhaps suggesting the absurdity not only of the male and female identities portrayed there, but also of the stability of gender identity itself. How many more identities might be lurking beneath that costume? Maybe we'll find out in a subsequent video! Anyway, doesn't Twain's transformation have the effect of destabilizing identity more fully than Shocked's reversal?
In any case, these videos opened the door for a wide ranging conversation about sex and gender norms that might not have been as available to the class without the assistance of these performances drawn from pop culture. Thanks to the students for putting me on to the Shania Twain video.