6 The Role of Humour in the Language of Protest
Public protests, processions, marches, parades resemble the ages-old forms of collective experience. In the Middle Ages, they would take the shape of carnivals. Days, and even weeks spent on amusement, release us from the routine of daily life. Transgressive ceremonies of the “opposite” world are accompanied by omnipresent laughter, elicited by humour and folk satire, a perfect means of fun which accelerates social integration.
Laughter is a physiological reaction to a comical communication. It alleviates fear, and therefore provides an effective means of objection against satraps’ repression and indoctrination. Paradoxically, satire does not make a protest less serious, on the contrary – it emphasises it with its subversive nature. One of the most effective weapons of protest is the blade of satire and irony. A pun has the power to deactivate the persuasiveness of propaganda and discharge pathetic narratives of dictatorial authorities.
Practices of the culture jamming environment prove that strategies based on subvertising – bordering on scam, belong to the most efficient forms of activism.
The article also describes the form of a modern gossip, which functions in the media space as a meme. Memes create the participatory space of protest in the digital world. Despite their intangible nature, they can save the day with laughter and motivate the masses to real action. As much as puns, memes are a double-edged weapon, serving authoritarian regimes to create meta-narratives, which have located us in the post-truth world we reside today.
Keywords: culture jamming, prank, subversion, conspiracy theories, meme wars