Bar, Bar, Barbarella

Mystery Science Theater 3000, whether the original series on Comedy Central, the version that aired on SciFi or the reboot on Netflix, is a lot funnier if you know a lot about science fiction. If you are knowledgeable about the genre, and the film that they are making fun of is a science fiction failure, it becomes readily apparent that they are especially interested in making fun of the clichés and conventions of the genre. Of course, given the structure of the show, they are not quite as directly satirizing specific films and ideas in the manner of something like Futurama or Space Balls, both of which are especially hilarious if you can figure out which movie they’re making fun of. Throughout the semester it has been noted that science fiction serves a social function that is distinctive to the genre, and that is much more than the sum of the visual and story parts. So the questions to ask when looking at a comedic treatment of the genre are: Exactly what is a parody such as Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Barbarella  satirizing? What is the purpose of the the show (or a science fiction-comedy hybrid like Galaxy Quest or the TV show The Orville) aside from an attempt at being funny?  What is it saying about the science fiction genre?  What is it telling us about the present and the future?  In other words, if we ‘take the film seriously’ what is it trying to tell us?

And for our last music post, here’s a song about the film Barbarella by the 1980s Hoboken cult power pop group The Bongos:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

5 Comments so far

  1.   Anna Douramanis on January 20th, 2018

    The first time I ever watched MST3K was a few years back and it was the episode where they made fun of Pumaman, which was so badly done. While the characters are mocking these stories, they are also in a sense paying homage to these films. As we all know by now, science fiction films have themes of philosophy and emotion. Though these films were poorly made, they still had these ideas that just got lost in the execution. MST3K pulls the plot and continuity together, helping the viewers make a better interpretation of the film.

  2.   Shira Rosner on January 21st, 2018

    I watched Barbarella and I’m not exactly sure what this film was satirizing. I just knew that it was absolutely ridiculous and the most sexed up film I’ve watched in a while. It came out in the late sixties so I assume it relates to the US space program and the sexual revolution.
    There might be some female sexual empowerment in the film, but I just thought it was exploitive and cheap. Barbarella was the protagonist, a female astronaut flying solo, yet she seemed clueless and proved to be useless and defenseless throughout the movie. It didn’t help that she went from one skimpy outfit to the next and that she was all too happy to bed every man who saved her.
    The movie is set in a futuristic world and I thought it was interesting that one of the technologies they introduced was a new and inventive sex pill and that the “old way of doing it” seemed so boring and unnecessary in comparison.

  3.   Ben Cambridge on January 23rd, 2018

    I watched Barbarella, and it was definitely a product of another time, with it’s flamboyant mise-en-scene and presence of nudity, among other strange features. There’s no other science fiction movie that I’ve seen that includes a bright pink spaceship with a shag carpet clad interior. The presence of aliens as sets of adolescent twins was an interesting touch, as were the violet rabbits. Overall the film was very bizarre, but seemed fit for an audience at the time of its release.

  4.   Angel Lewis on January 24th, 2018

    I’ve watched Spaceballs a couple of times and I think that they were making fun of the most popular science fiction movies of that time. I guess that they were trying to show that science fiction doesn’t always have to be so serious and be so tragic.

  5.   Joao Marques on January 26th, 2018

    There’s an Australian show called Danger 5 it is really great if you get a chance to watch, in the first season is satirizing 60’s film and tv in general but also sci-fi especially in s1,ep2 Lizard Soldiers of the Third Reich,and i think this really shows how you satirize something right.

Leave a Reply

You must be

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar