Trump, memes and the Alt-right: Emotive and affective criticism and praise

Way, Lyndon CS ORCID: 0000-0002-0481-4891
(2021) Trump, memes and the Alt-right: Emotive and affective criticism and praise. RUSSIAN JOURNAL OF LINGUISTICS, 25 (3). pp. 789-809.

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<jats:p>Internet memes are the most pervasive and malleable form of digital popular culture (Wiggins 2019: vii). They are a way a society expresses and thinks of itself (Denisova 2019: 2) used for the purpose of satire, parody, critique to posit an argument (Wiggins 2019, see also Ponton 2021, this issue). The acts of viewing, creating, sharing and commenting on memes that criticise or troll authority figures have become central to our political processes becom[ing] one of the most important forms of political participation and activism today (Merrin 2019: 201). However, memes do not communicate to us in logical arguments, but emotionally and affectively through short quips and images that entertain. Memes are part of a new politics of affectivity, identification, emotion and humour (Merrin 2019: 222). In this paper, we examine not only what politics memes communicate to us, but how this is done. We analyse memes, some in mainstream social media circulation, that praise and criticise the authoritarian tendencies of former US President Donald Trump, taken from 4Chan, a home of many alt-right ideas. Through a Multimodal Critical Discourse Studies approach, we demonstrate how images and lexical choices in memes do not communicate to us in logical, well-structured arguments, but lean on affective and emotional discourses of racism, nationalism and power. As such, though memes have the potential to emotionally engage with their intended audiences, this is done at the expense of communicating nuanced and detailed information on political players and issues. This works against the ideal of a public sphere where debate and discussion inform political decisions in a population, essential pillars of a democratic society (Habermas 1991).</jats:p>

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Multimodal Critical Discourse Studies, criticisms, praise, memes, affect
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of the Arts
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2022 14:53
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 21:14
DOI: 10.22363/2687-0088-2021-25-3-789-809
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