Groovy Baby! Disguising musical comedy in the Austin Powers' trilogy

Publisher:
International Association for the Study of Popular Music
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Citation:
Proceedings of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music Australia-New Zealand 2010 Conference, 2011, pp. 37 - 40
Issue Date:
2011
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Comedian Mike Myers achieved international success with his franchise of Austin Powers films in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Generally their success has been attributed to Myers' formulation of the character of Austin Powers as a parody of the British spy James Bond and associated spy genre villains, 'Bond-girls' and ensemble players. However this emphasis has overlooked the important framing of musical numbers in the movies, a construction that allows humour to draw from other genres. By 'disguising' musical comedy throughout the films, Myers is able to critique and draw from wider sections of cultural and filmic history. He also exposes audiences who would otherwise be cautious of, or opposed to, straight musical or musical comedy films. Through extensive intertextuality and allusion to historic scenes from the musical canon, Myers markets his films to a secondary demographic, namely those with the cultural capital to recognise, and be amused by, the parodic re-settings. This paper will show that the Austin Powers films can also be considered part of the musical and musical comedy traditions as well as the parody tradition, with this dual focus drawing audiences from across demographics as well as allowing the creator/performer Mike Myers to explore a variety of engagements with music and comedy.
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