Adaptation Displacement

In On Writing, Research by BronwenLeave a Comment

This is a concept I heard about years ago and have never forgotten. It’s kind of fascinating.

TV Tropes defines adaptation displacement as:

Adaptation displacement is the phenomenon by which a derivative work becomes successful enough to overshadow the original work completely.

Not to be confused with the “Weird Al” effect:

When a work is displaced by a parody, this is known as The “Weird Al” Effect.

My favorite example is the origins of Foghorn the Leghorn. You know, the oversized, jabbering rooster. (Do kids still get to watch Looney Tunes these days? They’re kind of horrifying.) Wikipedia’s got that for us:

The character of Foghorn Leghorn was directly inspired by the popular character of Senator Claghorn, a blustering Southern politician played by Kenny Delmar who was a regular character on the Fred Allen radio show. The rooster adopted many of Claghorn’s catch phrases, such as “That’s a joke, ah say, that’s a joke, son.” Delmar had based the character of Claghorn upon a Texas rancher who was fond of saying this.[1]

No one remembers Claghorn anymore–who was himself based on an anonymous dude no one remembers. Now if a character acts like that we assume it’s a parody of Leghorn himself.

Just wanted to record this so I don’t forget it again and have to go scrounging across the interwebz to find it.

No, this had nothing to do with what I’m writing. Imma get back on that now. 

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