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16 importantly, it would have disarmed the power that comes with a form devouring itself. For millennia, this has been the rhythm of parody: The author convinces the readers that they’re reading the real thing, then pulls the rug out from under them with the joke. The heart of this form lies in that give and take between the serious setup and the ridiculous punchline. As Mark Twain put it, “The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny 12 about it.” Not only is the Sixth Circuit on the wrong side of Twain, but grafting onto the reasonable-reader test a requirement that parodists explicitly disclaim their own pretense to reality is a disservice to the American public. It assumes that ordinary readers are less so- phisticated and more humorless than they actually are. And the stakes here are significant, involving no less than one of many more or less equally important components of social and political discourse. “[R]hetor- ical hyperbole . . . has traditionally added much to the discourse of our Nation.” Milkovich, 497 U.S. at 20 (cleaned up). Although “parody is often offensive, it is nevertheless deserving of substantial freedom—both as entertainment and as a form of social and literary criticism.” L.L. Bean, Inc. v. Drake Publishers, Inc., 811 F.2d 26, 33 (1st Cir. 1987) (cleaned up). 12 Mark Twain, How to Tell a Story (1895), 3UDr3Si.

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