A détournement is a variation on a previous media work, in which the newly created one has a meaning that is antagonist to the original. The original media work that is détourned must be somewhat familiar to the target audience, so that it can appreciate the opposition of the new message. The artist or commentator making the variation can reuse only some of the characteristic elements of the originating work. The term “détournement”, borrowed from the French, originated with the Situationist International 1957-1972; a similar term more familiar to English speakers would be “turnabout” or “derailment”.
Some years ago I began propounding the theory that all humor is conservative. This thesis was prompted not just by the obvious humorlessness of the Politically Correct Left, but by a series of essays by liberal pundits asking why the Right was having all the fun and by the observation that all of the best comic novels and movies tended to serve conservative ends. It wasn’t though until I started reading some of the philosophical writings on the topic of humor — of which there are surprisingly few — that I really started to take the idea seriously. What stands out in those writings , and seems to explain why there aren’t more, is just how uncomfortable the authors are with where their investigations lead them. Simon Critchley’s On Humour is a perfect example of how a rational consideration of humor tends to bring what are generally secular and Leftist thinkers into conflict with their own philosophies.