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"Spoofing" It Up!

The Post's 2014 April Fool stunt, jokingly reporting the supposed discovery of Robin Hood's remains, highlighted yet again just how frequently the legendary character has been "spoofed-up!" The dictionary definition of "spoof" is mild, satirical mockery and it is often said that the measure of a true "legend" is when the subject can be sent-up and ridiculed in many different ways, yet still retain its iconic status and dignity without any damage to its reputation. The Robin Hood legend is certainly an ultimate example of this that specifically proves the point - with an extensive range of humorous interpretations spanning film and television, books, magazines and political caricature etc.

Even though the traditional story and characters are often taken way outside their comfort zone, these "off-the-wall" interpretations all help widen the scope and impact of the legend and extend its influence into yet another area of popular culture – humour and comedy.

There are far too many examples to comprehensively list in the space of this brief article but here are some specific references that reflect the scope and diversity of the ways in which the Robin Hood legend has been successfully "spoofed"!

In 1993, Hollywood director and actor, the late Mel Brooks made his hilarious "Robin Hood – Men In Tights" into a hugely popular cult movie and prior to that, in 1984, there had been "The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood" with George Segal and Morgan Fairchild. There were also numerous "cameo" appearances for Robin Hood characters in such films as Terry Gilliam's "Time Bandits" and the "Shrek" blockbuster. Walt Disney's 1973 animated feature saw the popular tale re-told starring a furry fox as Robin along with a cast of lovable animals "acting" in supporting roles! However, such iconic cartoon characters as Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry had already played Robin in various comical adaptations and the trend still continues today, with many television cartoon series often "spoofing – up" the familiar Sherwood Forest theme!

In 1988, Tony Robinson's "Maid Marian and her Merrie Men" was also a hugely successful television series that "sent-up" the traditional legend and many popular TV shows have also used a Robin Hood "sketch" to raise a laugh, including Morecambe and Wise and the Muppets.

In the world of literature, "Robin Hood - According to Spike Milligan" was published in 1998 and some other titles that "spoofed" the story include "The Lost Diary of Robin Hood's Money Man" by Steve Barlow and Steve Skidmore; (1999); "Robin the Hoodie – an ASBO History of Britain" by Hans Christian Asbosen (2009) and a German version called "Robin Cat" by Vincent Kluwe (2008) in which the well-known characters are all feline members of a cat gang living wild and free in a modern city suburb.

Over the centuries, the Robin Hood legend has also been ideally suited for adaptation to political caricature and recent prime ministers such as Gordon Brown and David Cameron have seen themselves dressed in tights and referred to as the Sheriff of Notting Hill! President Obama has used a Robin Hood analogy when addressing the nation and only last month the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio based his "sketch" at the Annual Inner Circle media event on a steal-from-the-rich Robin Hood theme.

In conclusion, in 1991, Robin Hood was featured in the USA's iconic, satirical monthly magazine "MAD" and, in the world of spoof and satire, Robin's appearance on the cover was seen as equivalent to a celebrity being on the cover of "News Week" or "Vogue" – so perhaps that says it all !!