Political Humor in 2008: A Study in Linguistic Awareness - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Political Humor in 2008: A Study in Linguistic Awareness

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  1. Political Humor in 2008:A Study in Linguistic Awareness By Alleen Pace Nilsen, and Don L. F. Nilsen 13

  2. Analogies • At the Democratic National Convention in August of 2008, Janet Napolitano said: • Barry Goldwater ran for President and he lost. • Morris Udall ran for President and he lost. • Bruce Babbitt ran for President and he lost. • I hope that this is an Arizona tradition that will continue. 13

  3. Another Analogy • At the Democratic National Convention in August of 2008, Hillary Clinton said that John McCain and George W. Bush had the same policies… • On the economy, • On supporting the oil companies, • On supporting big business, • On the war in Iraq. • She added that it’s appropriate that the Republican National Convention will be held in the Twin Cities. We can’t tell them apart either. 13

  4. Call and Response • During his campaign, Barack Obama used call-and-response, preacher cadences, and other rhetorical devices that are frequently used in Black churches. • Hillary Clinton was criticized for using an Arkansas dialect and preacher cadences in her campaign speeches. 13

  5. Color Symbolism • On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart noted that both the Democratic and the Republic parties have factions and infighting. • He proposed that not only do we have red states and blue states, but we also have periwinkle and Navy blue states. 13

  6. Larry Craig’s Contributions • In January of 2008, the American Dialect Society selected “toe-tapper” to be “the most outrageous word of 2007.” • They selected “to have a wide stance” to be “the most likely to succeed word of 2007.” • Both of these words were inspired by Larry Craig. 13

  7. Exonyms • In January of 2008, the American Name Society chose “Betraeus” as the Name of the year. • This was based on the fact that moveon.org had renamed General Petraeus as General Betraeus. • But ironically, Rush Limbaugh had earlier used the same term to refer to Democrats who did not support the War in Iraq 13

  8. New Washington Catch Phrase • In the senate hearing of Roger Clements and drug abuse, an emerging expression is “It is what it is.” • This is a common phrase in the sports community and also in various political spheres. • The term is dismissive, and it is a “stopper.” • It continues the tradition of the earlier “Just forget about it,” “Don’t go there,” and “Whatever!” 13

  9. John McCain • In an attempt to inject humor into the presidential race, John McCain ran a campaign ad mocking Barack Obama with images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. • Then he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, who appeared on Saturday Night Live as something of a celebrity. 13

  10. Joe, the Plumber • Joe, the Plumber, is really Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher, • so his name isn’t really Joe, • and he isn’t a plumber. • He’s an entrepeneur who doesn’t even have a plumber’s licence. • Barack Obama asks, “How many plumbers do you know who make more that $250,000 a year?” 13

  11. Barack Obama • “I have a dream,” Just words? • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Just words? • “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Just words? Just speeches? • This was in response to Hillary Clinton’s claim that Obama was all words and no substance • Obama failed to attribute the above words to Deval Patrick, who had used similar wording in one of his speeches. (Chicago Tribune Feb 19, 2008, p. A4) 13

  12. Sarah Palin • Sarah Palin’s children are named Bristol, Willow, Piper, Track and Twig. • Bristol and Willow are cities in Alaska, and Piper is the name of the Alaskan airline because they fly Piper Cub aircraft. • Bristol is also a seaport in England. It was one of the major seaports involved in the slave trade along with seaports in West Africa, Charleston, South Carlina, and the Carribbean. • Willow, Track and Twig are hippy names. • They are all pleasant and natural names that could have come from Walden Pond. Emerson and Thoreau would have loved them. • So would Orson Scott Card have loved them. They are a set of names, like the set of names in The Lost Boys. 13

  13. The name Piper is the name of a profession. The Piper is the musician who plays a pipe or flute. To me it is associated with the Pied Piper of Hamlin, who is an ironic character—both a protagonist and an antagonist. • But these are probably not the connotations that Sarah Palin had in mind. 13

  14. Palintology • Palintology is the interest in everything related to Sarah Palin, • including her talking to Joe Sixpack, • and Palin signs saying “Go girl!” • and Sarah asking, “what’s the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom?” • and answering, “Lipstick.” • and the Tina Fey skit, • and Sarah Palin’s appearance on Saturday Night Live. 13

  15. Political Correctness • Huckabee has said that if he became President, he would seek to have a constitutional amendment to have America declared as “a Christian nation.” • In contrast the politically correct people are suggesting that instead of saying “Merry Christmas” we should say “Happy Holidays.” • In January of 2008, the American Dialect Society selected “Happy Kwanhanamas!” as the “most unnecessary word of 2007.” It is a blend of Happy Kwanza, Happy Hanukka, and Happy Christmas. 13

  16. !Religious Signifying I • National Public Radio noted that Huckabee was using many veiled references from the Bible to appeal to his conservative base. • However, when this conservative base was questioned by NPR, only one of all of those polled was able to get all of the references correct. 13

  17. !Religious Signifying II • When Huckabee was told that it was almost a statistical impossibility that he could get the Republican nomination, he replied… • I didn’t major in math. I majored in miracles. • --National Public Radio 2/10/2008 13

  18. !The New Yorker • The New Yorker ran a cover satirically depicting Obama as a flag-burning Muslim and Michelle as a gun-toting radical was seen as a joke by the subscribers. • But when it was seen by tens of millions of non-subscribers many didn’t see the satire. • Newsweek said “You can’t erase a powerful image from someone’s mind any more than you can unring a bell.” (7/28/2008, p. 29) 13

  19. !What makes this satire? 13

  20. !!Tina Fey as Sarah Palin • Time says, “It’s hard to tell where Tina Fey ends and Sarah Palin begins…the updo, the wink, the syntax….” • “Where Palin’s campaign projected a smart, tough, folksy reformer, Fey showed a posing, in-over-her-head maverick-bot.” • “It is a seamless blending of reality and parody” (Time 10/20/2008, p. 29). 13

  21. !!!Tina Fey as Sarah Palin • http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/palin-hillary-open/656281/ 13