By Any Media Necessary: Mapping Youth and Participatory Politics


Across most of the groups and issues, humor is used as a common tactic for making media artefacts entertaining and their messages resonate. Whether it be exploring social injustices, mocking conservative political advertisements, or spreading scientific knowledge, humor is utilized to bring greater levity and self-awareness to often complicated subject matter. 

Some examples, such as John Green's Crashcourse: US History blends humorous anecdotes and jokes to liven up a generally dry subject matter and systematic analyses of past socio-economic structures. Others, such as Ask a Slave, are light-hearted formats to tackle well-worn and complicated social injustices through a new playful lens to both shift the viewer's expectations and draw attention to the logical absurdity of slave treatment in the US.

Parody plays a significant role within the types of humor that are used for these online media formats. By banking on pre-existing media within popular culture, parody adds new meaning or new interpretations to well-known stories and characters.  

Certain parodies are very particular and topical in regards to a specific political issue. For example, in 2012 the National Organization for Marriage released a dramatic public service advertisement against gay marriage. The video was about an oppressive "gathering storm" of homosexuality and its supporters. In literalizing their theme, all of the actors in their video were seemingly hovering above a grey storm cloud. In response, a number of independent gay marriage groups released their own "gathering storm" videos the mocked the absurdity of the original video's message and format, including the green-screened storm cloud that surrounded the actors.

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