Friday, August 24, 2012

Decontextualization, Memetics, Semiotics, and The Ivy League Exorcist Chick Tract Parody

jack chick tract parody mimetics semiotics
JUNE 2013 UPDATE:  We have a new blog post of E.W. Jackson and yoga here (and right below it is our new Chick tract parody).  Also, watch the online film Ivy League Exorcist: The Bobby Jindal Story.  Like Bluto said, "Don't cost nothin'."


Troy Davis writes:

In July, members of CultJam Productions passed out the promotional Chick tract parody titled "A Demon-Hunting Veep" (read it here), at Comic-Con. The tract looks like a Chick Publications creation and has a message that might lead many readers to believe it is the work of fundamentalists; our intention was to evoke curiousity so that the reader would be motivated to watch our film Ivy League Exorcist: The Bobby Jindal Story.

We didn't realize until a few days ago that the tract--or at least a decontextualized segment of the tract--became viral online during Comic-Con. On July 17, someone with the handle "DJ" posted a page of the tract along with ample breasts to the online image board MyBroadband (the image to the right). DJ apparently thought our tract was on the level and juxtaposed the boobs to show his contempt for our facetous list of satanic activities. Unfortunately, DJ didn't list the name of the tract or the name of the film so readers were led to believe it was a real fundy tract (though we made the list from activities that fundies often link to the devil). In essense, the meme lacked what Richard Dawkins calls copying-fidelity; a fragment of our work was recontextualized in a way that led to confusion. The image was quickly picked up by some major blogs (the Huffington Post's Andres Jauregui did a post on it as did Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder).

When I found out about this a few days ago, I emailed bloggers about the confusion and many updated their posts to acknowledge the true context and motives of the creators of the work (e.g., Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder's post is here). This caused the properly contextualized and complete meme-set to go viral again. What a long, strange trip it's been. The List: This is the list of components of Satan's Spiritual Structure: Eastern religions, yoga, Freemasonry, Illuminati groups, New Age religions, Church of Satan, Scientology, Rosicruscianism, Astrology, Tarot cards, Ouija boards, Remote viewing, Palmistry, Voodoo, Earth Worship, Wicca, Cyberpunk culture, Divination, Meditation, Vegetariansim, Lycanthropy, Postmodernism, Backmasking, Astral-projection, Necromancy, Rebirthing, Kabbalah, LOTR, Fire walking, Levitation, alt 'comix,' Vampirism, Trilateralism, Marihuana & Pot parties, LSD/shrooms, Video games, Harry Potter, Dungeons & Dragons, Halloween, Fornication, Skull & Bones, Rock music, Heavy metal, Burning man, Twilight films, Raves & XTC, and Goth culture.

UPDATE:  I wrote more theoretical insights on the CultJam Productions blog.

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