Humor

Political humor dates back to 1600BCE, specifically to ancient Egypt under King Snofru. It could extend further into antiquity and we have no records of it. The joke was “How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish.”

Political humor, regardless of its age or era, reveals what the populace believes true about those in authority. In modern lingo, it reveals sentiment. Wandering minstrels praised the king in his court and reviled him at the fringes of the empire. Court jesters were the only ones able to directly mock the crown. Whether they survived the joke was another matter entirely.

NextStage started receiving political cartoons and jokes since shortly after this blog’s launch. Here we share what we’ve received to date along with some commentary. Cartoons and text are shared pretty much in the order we received them. Remember that these were unsolicited and came in “over the transom”, hence reveal are the mood of the populace. Similar concerns are affecting people regardless of political affiliations.

Bold text are contributors’ labels for each image.


The Simpsons is the longest running scripted show in television history, premiering on Fox in 1990, and is well established as a meter of public sentiment. Celebrities are both canonized and mocked and those who are not yet celebrities become so overnight with a single Simpson appearance.

Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are therefore immortalized. But is it how they want to be remembered or how people are remembering them?

Ron Jeremy for President

Ron Jeremy for President

Ron Jeremy is a well established porn star and self-parodist (that means “he doesn’t take himself seriously”). The theme of government and voting equating to unpleasant sexual relations (no offense directed at Mr. Jeremy) has been abundant so far (although most can’t be shared).

Best Non-Partisan Joke ever

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the highway. Nothing is moving.
Suddenly, a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks, “What’s going on?”
 “Terrorists have kidnapped Congress, and are asking for a $10 million dollar ransom. Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire. We are going from car to car, taking up a collection.”
How much is everyone giving, on average?” the driver asks.
The man replies, “About a gallon.”

Violence against authority demonstrates how much frustration and discontent exists. The above suggests violence against an authoritative body, not an individual, hence the frustration is with government as a whole and not individuals in authority.

Rednecks for Obama

Rednecks for Obama

Humor often uses juxtaposition because unlikely partnerships amuse us. Obama is often described as an intellectual and constitutional scholar. Perhaps the theory behind this image is that rednecks and intellectuals are an unlikely partnership.

The term “redneck” infers class, cultural, political and regional stereotypes. What immediately comes to mind when “redneck” is used? “Intellectual” carries similar baggage and both terms are used to humor’s advantage based on the audience. When you hear “intellectual” do you immediately think of the rural south? Do a lot of rednecks receive advanced degrees or become thoracic surgeons?

Political humor often demonstrates differences (several pieces in this post do that). The above image demonstrates inclusion, “we’re not so different after all.”

Body language is revealing and only if we know what the body language is in response to. There’s not enough information in this image to determine what’s going on in the environment (what’s causing the body language). For example, are Bush and Obama hearing the national anthem? Is Bush demonstrating feelings of regret, feelings of shame? Is Obama experiencing a moment of pride, of ecstasy? Are they hearing a prayer and responding from different religious backgrounds? The interpretations are endless unless context is given.

Ron Paul and Rick Perry

Ron Paul and Rick Perry

Humor targeted Rick Perry when he couldn’t remember several items about government and his own campaign. Such forgettings are sometimes called “elder” or “senior” moments. Yet Ron Paul is the designated “crazy old man” in Republican Candidates as Simpson Characters above while Ron Perry is a gun-toting…what? Militant? Texan? What does the face in the cartoon indicate about the artist’s feelings towards Perry? Towards Paul?

As with Obama-Bush Body Language above, we have no idea what the real cause of Paul’s and Perry’s body language was and here the artist provides context by including language. What does the included language tell us about the artist’s feelings towards Paul and Perry?

Michele Bachmann Stole This Jacket

Michele Bachmann Stole This Jacket

Michele Bachmann as more caricature than real person, as two dimensional (at best) and not whole is another recurring theme. Graphics we’ve received indicate people are uncomfortable with her and she should not be taken seriously far more than any other candidate.

Sarah Palin Books

Sarah Palin Books
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The value of Sarah Palin’s books — hence her value in the political process — is indicated by the book being discounted 90%. What is Sarah Palin’s purpose in the current political process? Is she a king or queen maker? Do the majority of Americans pay her any attention or is she considered “out there”? Is her audience redneck or intellectual? Why? Has her time as a voice in American politics passed? Did American’s allies take her seriously and if not, why not?

One’s Crazy, One’s Acting Crazy. Guess Who’s Who!

One's Crazy, One's Acting Crazy. Guess Who's Who!
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Jon Stewart caricatured Michele Bachmann’s expression in the above. Such humor needs to played wisely because Americans (as a society) are hesitant to admit publicly their feelings about an individual’s features even when they’re laughing hysterically in private. People may also empathize with this type of humor’s target or take a more serious look at the target because of the personage making the joke.

Jon Stewart’s audience is sophisticated and educated. Part of the joke is that the joke itself is adolescent humor (making fun of someone’s features or body) thus the humor is multi-layered and accessible only to a sophisticated, educated audience. This image demonstrates segregation, an “Us versus Them” mentality, and the prejudice is a very old one; the educated fear the uneducated, the uneducated fear the educated, and the educated often mock the uneducated in their presence with the belief the uneducated won’t understand the subtlety hence not know they’re being mocked, adding to the joke’s in-crowd specificity and gaining social collateral for the joke-maker.

Nothing overtly indicates Michele Bachmann is uneducated as such but the levels of humor and specifically “The Queen of Rage” do (intellectuals and the educated consider extreme emotions prole-like and something disdainful).

But the question is “Does Michele Bachmann’s expression cause people concern or only when attention is brought to it?”

Bachmann on Science

Bachmann on Science
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Michele Bachmann is again speared as “not really with it” or “out of touch with reality”. The humor comes two ways; there’s the obvious cartooning and there’s also the amount of text that must be read in order to get the joke. This joke is geared towards intellectuals, people who are use to working to understand something, and people who appreciate subtlety. The theme is a variation on that used in One’s Crazy, One’s Acting Crazy. Guess Who’s Who! and is probably meant as an injoke to those already in the choir rather than to sway people on the fence.

Americans historically demonstrate prejudice along racial and ethnic lines while Europeans tend to demonstrate prejudice along class lines. This doesn’t mean America is without class boundaries or that such prejudices don’t exist, only that those boundaries are based on different concepts.

Each election cycle has some demonstrations of these prejudices. Here “Us versus Them” class prejudice and boundaries are demonstrated. Prejudice, bigotry and similar anti-social behaviors are usually indicators of distrust and fear with that distrust and fear based on historical injustices perpetrated by one group on the other group and those injustices being repaid when the other group ascends to equality.

For example, Group A historically subjugates Group B and makes only specific social roles available to Group B. Group B breaks out of subjugation and develops equality with Group A. Group A’s power and authority gone, it is replaced with fear and anxiety that past injustices will be repaid. Fear of retribution exists because human mentality easily accept that others will act as we act. This is often stated as “If I am a thief then you must steal.”

The flaw in such class conflicts is that class lines also usually indicate educational and experiential training lines. Upper class children have both greater and more diverse educational opportunities than do children from other classes regardless of academic performance. Being given $50k “to lose so you’ll learn the market” isn’t an opportunity given to many middle and lower class teenagers. The “Denim” are often incapable of self-government without help from the “Suits” because nothing in the Denim’s history prepares them to self-govern.

Monopoly Money

Monopoly Money

Politicians being out of touch with reality or at least out of touch with the electorate is demonstrated above as coin of the realm and monopoly money blend together. This simple graphic is another demonstration of intellectual appeal (see Bachmann on Science above). Understanding this image requires a good deal of common and experiential knowledge. It may also be a play along age lines as playing Monopoly on a board, et cetera, is becoming a thing of the past.

Political humor often focuses on finances and financial issues and usually demonstrating that those wanting office have nothing in common with those they govern. George H.W. Bush amazement at supermarket scanner technology was exaggerated to humorous proportions to demonstrate he was out of touch with the middle class. Mitt Romney’s $10k bet to Rick Perry is another example of whose wanting office to be out of touch with the electorate. This was further demonstrated when Romney claimed his challenge was the same as someone saying they’d bet a million dollars. Romney has been involved in financial structurings most of his adult life. His education and training cause him to conceptualize money differently than the middle and lower classes do, and he’s well aware of making intentional versus hyperbolic statements. NextStage demonstrates how people’s backgrounds affect their concepts and language around money at conferences and trainings with the “None-One-A lot-All” exercise.

I’ve been told that the Clinton administration’s economic and social booms were due to plans enacted during the Reagan and Bush1 administrations. But I’d not heard that the Obama administration’s troubles were inherited from Bush2 until we were sent this. Even so, it’s not something mentioned too often.

The above is another example of directed humor. It’ll more likely cause debate in some republican camps and laughter in others, anger in some democratic circles and sighs in others.

Emotions aside, how accurate is the sentiment demonstrated in the image?

Elizabeth Warren’s Alternative Social Contract

Elizabeth Warren's Alternative Social Contract
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Elizabeth Warren is going after MA Republican Senator Scott Brown’s seat. It was revealed that Scott Brown worked as a male model and the response was that Ms. Warren could not have worked as a model. Humor took over and the result is the above. An image of Elizabeth Warren’s actual social contract is also available.

There’s a lot of cultural subtlety working in the above. Us v Them, definitely, along with sexism on both sides. Is there a hint of Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, of the attractive being unattractive and vice versa? Is there intellectualism versus uneducated? And which is which in both cases?

United Brands of America

united Brands of America

The above is a variation on the class warfare theme. America is no longer a country governed by people so much as a country ruled by corporations, hence an economic oligarchy and everyone having an equal voice no longer exists.

If the War on Poverty Were a Real War

If the War on Poverty Were a Real War

The above is another variation on class warfare themes. Here the statement is that there’s recognizable ROI building bombs and tanks and no recognizable ROI educating the impoverished.

The flaw in this reasoning is also indicative of the differences in class training and education as stated in Denim v Suits. The impoverished can be educated and that doesn’t guarantee financial success. The greatest indication of economic success is social networks and few of the impoverished have social networks indicative of economic success.

Jefferson and Banking

Jefferson and Banking
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Another variation on class warfare, this time appealing to a founding father for explanation and justification. These types of appeals are directed along class and social lines and are often intended to perpetuate the “Us versus Them” mindset. The message here is “We’re more American than They are”.

Such images and quotes are historically interesting (if valid) and also anachronistic. Banking in Jefferson’s time was very different from modern banking structures, policies and institutions. People may agree with his statements but the statements are no longer (as) relevant due to current laws.

Diapers and Politicians

Diapers and Politicians

The most powerful images tend to be from real life. No doctoring or image enhancement is necessary to understand this person’s feelings towards the current government. This graphic is also an example of providing context through image content. The type of sign, the framing supporting the sign, the marquee of a rental store run by a first-name person (sole owner, not a chain), the gray backgrounds, et cetera may convey both struggle and frustration, the text indicating what the struggle is about and who the frustration is with.

Chicken Motives

Chicken Motives

This image came in at the start of the Occupy movement and requires a sophisticated audience to 1) understand the humor and 2) figure out if its pro or anti Occupy. The simple color palette, font and size indicate a pro-Occupy author while the subtlety of the message indicate the author is anti-Occupy. Most Occupy protesters are college educated and this being anti-Occupy requires understanding the cynical double-entendres, something one can be taught but usually must experience to understand.

Broken Record

Broken Record
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The sheer number of graphics sent that deal with class issues is impressive. The above came in after the start of the Occupy movement. Here the simple palette and caricatures indicate a middle class, educated audience.

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street

This image came in entitled “Occupy Wall Street” and is an attack on the media in the guise of class warfare via the use of an historical personage and quote. This quote may be more meaningful than Jefferson and Banking above and I’m not convinced Malcolm X’s comments were for the same purpose as Occupy’s. If so, the power of the message is lost in historic context.

Clinton

Clinton

A call to more recent history is the above Clinton image. There has been conjecture that Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential loss was due more to the country punishing Gore for Clinton’s activities in office than anything Gore said or did himself. This image mocks any concerns of Clinton’s activities with “…and a little something on the side.”

Are a collapsing economy and multiple conflicts the price of executive office fellatio? And if the above conjecture is valid, who’s being punished now?

George Carlin on Social Classes

George Carlin on Social Classes
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An interesting variation on the appeals to history and authority is this image of George Carlin. Note that this is also an example of a targeted audience. Not everyone remembers George Carlin nor is everyone aware of his intellect, wit and humor, nor will everyone appreciate it.

God Hates

God Hates
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American citizenship is one of the most difficult, challenging things to do. To be an American citizen means to defend to your death the right of someone you hate to publicly state something you believe completely unconscionable.

Especially if they would not accord you that same right.

Thus an afterlife correction is offered. This is another example of multi-layered humor. The people being mocked tend to believe they will be rewarded in some afterlife. Here we are told that they’re not only wrong here, they’re wrong there and their reward isn’t sure.

Here patriotism enters the class warfare theme. The war analogy of “Us versus Them” is made very clear in this image. Again, context provides a great deal of meaning to the message. Occupy protesters all wear common clothing (no designer fashions here) and their messages are written in hand on cardboard.

Freedom of Assembly

Freedom of Assembly

Another image in response to the Occupy movement that calls on patriotism. The call this time is to a fundamental American right, the right of assembly. Americans cherish their rights even though few can name them, are unaware when their rights are infringed unless it is obvious and personal, nor are the majority willing to defend their rights when their rights are applied to others as noted in God Hates.

Future Generations

Future Generations
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The American political system allows single issues to dominate election cycles, although I’m not completely sure if it’s the american system or Americans themselves that allow single issue domination. Single issues tend to be polarizing issues such as abortion, same sex marriages and often are Us versus Them arguments masked as other concerns.

People often miss the core concern of environmental and energy pleas. It’s illogical to cry “Save the Earth”. The earth’s been around for some five billion years and probably will be around another five billion. Saving something essentially immortal is a fruitless task, however this type of misdirection of effort insures little effort will be applied in the general populace.

If people recognize that calls to save the environment, energy, the whales, snail darters, et cetera, are actually calls to save ourselves from destruction more action will be taken. Recent changes in global weather patterns and an increase in severe weather systems are causing more awareness in the general population although all but the most drastic action may be too late. In short, don’t waste time saving the earth, save ourselves.

People have been around at best for some seven million years and in our present form for some 350,000 years, probably much less. It’s doubtful anything we do will affect the earth as a planet in a solar system in a galaxy, there’s increasing evidence what we do affects our ability to survive in the environment we’re creating.

Bring Back Arrested Development

Bring Back Arrested Development

Here a single issue is played for laughs. It is said that one of Obama’s strengths is his ability to be a common person, a man of the people who shares their concerns. The demonstration of this is that he plays basketball — a common game both familiar and available to most people — to release tension.

Not My Backyard

Not My Backyard
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America’s (and perhaps the World’s) energy future is another single issue item. The arguments that we have an endless supply of oil and gas are illogical at best. The earth is only so large, the places where fossil fuels form only so many and the depth that fossil fuels can form only so deep, therefore the supply is limited. Civilizations will come and go. The current civilization can only maintain itself for so long at its present energy and caloric consumption rates. Waiting too long to develop alternative resources equates to a different civilization being in place when what is now considered “alternative” becomes the only choice.

Capitalism

Capitalism
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Here class warfare takes center stage. Again, meaning is increased by context. The middle class is in the gutter, groaning and beaten down, his face unseen therefore unknown, one of the masses. The other character is symbolized with a “$” sign (upper class? business?) and is a “fat cat” in contrast to the middle class character. The $ character overreacts to the middle class character’s groan, perhaps assuming anything and everything is a threat.

What is the cartoonist conveying about political and social realities? Where do the cartoonist’s sympathies lie and why? How do you know?

Economy

Economy
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A variant on Capitalism above and again the populace pays the price for government and banking excess. This image makes use of mirroring; the only character facing the audience is the center “Citizens” and he is straining supporting the economy while banks pick his pockets and governments rests on his efforts. The mirroring and centering is a non-conscious signal to the audience regarding who to sympathize with and who is viewpoint character. Who is this image targeted to? Is it a viable message for that target audience?

Coming Money Trust

Coming Money Trust
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Sometimes people look long and hard for an image that speaks their feelings, especially when their feelings are shared and at the extremes of the emotional spectrum. This image made the rounds in mid-October 2011 but was originally published in 1912. The belief that government is prey to big business is an old concern.

BailOut

BailOut

Personal finances are a common electorate concern and this election cycle is no exception. This image is another example of class warfare, Us versus Them with banking — quickly becoming synonymous with corrupt government and big business — as the target.

Occupy Wall Street 3

Occupy Wall Street 3
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Class warfare with media as the dupes of big business, ala the Occupy movement.

There are flaws in the reasoning that produced this image. People are using mobile devices for information over any other channel and you can only increase screen resolution so much on mobile devices. The subtlety of this message misses the audience most likely to respond to it because it isn’t designed for the devices that audience uses most.

Occupy Wall Street 4

Occupy Wall Street 4

NextStage uses several metrics when analyzing social communications (these images all qualify as social communications). One of these metrics deals with how often a given sentiment is communicated within a given time period; a message’s significance to a given population is directly proportional to the number of times it is communicated by that population. A message may be very important and unless it is communicated often it isn’t recognized as important. Something that is communicated often in a given time period has higher social significance.

Occupy messages started to pile up in late Oct 2011 and became a recurring thread, hence the Occupy movement resonated with a recognizably large percentage of the populace.

As with Occupy Wall Street 2, the message is personal.

I’m Bachmann

I'm Bachmann

Michele Bachmann was a favorite and recurring target among specific demographics. What demographics are demonstrated by the cultural reference to the Batman movies and the work involved in creating the image?

It’s Funny Because It’s True!

It's Funny Because It's True!
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Herman Cain’s past did what he prophesied early in his campaign; he claimed that a big bullseye would be on his back as his popularity climbed.

Some people asked “How come these women are coming forward now? And with no desire for remuneration?” and seemed to miss that some of accusations were filed in the 1990s. It has derailed his presidential bid but the derailing isn’t based on something unknown or new.

Does Cain still have a future in politics? Or was he just another “Not Mitt” of the week? Can he be a king or queen maker or has he lost all credibility?

I Can Count to Three

I Can Count to Three

Rick Perry offered a counterpoint to Herman Cain’s travails when Perry’s memory lapsed in several public situations. Perry came onto the electoral scene late and in doing so made a splash. That splash was announced by news media worldwide and caused us some wonder; Any new thing will cause focused attention for some (usually brief) time period. This attention focusing for a brief time period was quite obvious in the “Anybody but Mitt” Republican party.

But what does Perry’s repeated memory lapses reveal? Bush2 was asked if he could identify four political leaders on the world stage during one of his campaigns and he turned the question back on his interviewer, “Can you?”

What do we expect from our leaders? Do we want supermen (and women) in office? Superman so longed to be with people of his own kind that he kept Kandor, a city of them, bottled up in his Fortress of Solitude. Despite how Kandor came to be, the psychological implications of peers miniaturized, bottled and kept hidden away (in what amounts to a basement, perhaps a “super” man-cave is a better description?) is significant. Superman’s family was Kryptonian upperclass although he was raised by the Kents, humble middle-America farmers. Forget the Superman-Clark Kent identify crisis, his psyche was cursed to deal with impostor syndrome from the beginning.

Only people with incredible egos will self-identify as being able to govern others because the definition of government is to know what is best for the majority even when that majority disagrees with or fails to recognize what is best (Georgia’s Lyman Hall supposedly said “They did not elect me to do what they think is best. They elected me to do what I think is best.”). Self-identifying as being able to lead and make decisions for others indicates a belief in some form of superiority to them.

So the question is “Do the majority of Americans want their peers or their superiors in office?” And if the latter, can Americans be upset when their superiors legislate first for superior needs? Are most Americans able or willing to recognize that by voting for someone they have demonstrated a belief that whomever they voted for is superior to them?

Cain’s Problems

Cain's Problems

Targeting of Cain increased as more accusers revealed themselves. What do the color palette and language indicate about audience? Does Cain’s expression in the image play to any specific fears? Does the language play to any specific beliefs?

In response to Obama releasing his long form Birth Certificate, John McCain put his out as a show of good faith

In response to Obama releasing his long form Birth Certificate, John McCain put his out as a show of good faith

Obama began recognizable campaign swings through previously undecided states in mid November 2011. A result of his recognizable campaign activity was an attempt to short-circuit previous Republican accusations, the most obvious and long-lived of them being the validity of his birth certificate.

Is this joke directed at Obama supporters, opponents or both?

This image is another example of context. Fox News often attacked Obama while giving Republican and Tea Party spokespeople a broad podium. This image mocks Fox on several levels and most obviously by juxtaposing the incorrect headline with the announcer’s expression. It’s also worth noting that this image made the rounds with the above title, an indication of the intended audience. Experience, education and intellect are required to appreciate Faux-Fox.

This from the White house on Fox News’s Blunder

This from the White house on Fox News's Blunder

The above came in simultaneously to Stay Classy Faux News. It is an audience specific image and like Stay Classy Faux News requires education and intellect to appreciate fully.

On Trump and Obama

On Trump and Obama
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The pro-Obama images started pouring in once he started making recognizable campaign swings and speeches. This image can polarize audiences into pro- and anti-Obama camps based on their pre-existing political beliefs. However, another possible take requires wit and sophistication; the event described is something some audience members believe to be true yet doubt they will ever be able to prove.

Technically he did know on Friday that he signed the order…just saying folks

Technically he did know on Friday that he signed the order…just saying folks
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Black humor is often employed in politics and usually along Us versus Them lines with the lines conforming to social networks, specifically Insider versus Outsider. Here Obama is an Insider to specific knowledge while the rest of us and those in the audience are Outsiders, hence is Obama laughing at the obvious joke, at the unintentional faux pas at the podium or is he demonstrating an “I know something you don’t know” smirk at those around him?

Truth in Advertising

Truth in Advertising

The above image is similar to On Trump and Obama in several ways. It’s targeting a specific audience, requires wit and sophistication and describes something the targeted audience members believe to be true even if unable to prove.

I Thought That Sounded Familiar…

I Thought That Sounded Familiar...

Cain is Simpsonized. His immortality is assured.

Seems Like a Viable Alternative This Time Around

Seems Like a Viable Alternative This Time Around

This image is a call to the past although I’m unsure if it’s a call to a past authority. This image was entitled Seems Like a Viable Alternative This Time Around, perhaps demonstrating frustration with available candidates.

More interesting (as usual) is the content in context. This image includes “Seek Attack Destroy”, “May death come swiftly to his enemies” and a faux-American flag. These elements combine with the limited color palette and indicate a frustrated, possibly angry humor at work. Nixon as a robot complete with Presidential emblem chest shield (an allusion to super heroes’ costumes) are all calls to a superior being. Here the limited color palette may be indicating a binary decision style, an either-or mentality, with Nixon symbolizing a ruthless, avenging personality. Appeals to binary decision styles occur when people seek absolute truths from an absolute authority (such is fanaticism, religious and otherwise).

No, I Don’t Want to Ask the Audience

No, I Don't Want to Ask the Audience

The above and following images came in while I was putting this post together. The Bush2 presidency may be the most controversial in history to date. It caused long time friendships to dissolve and strange alliances to form. This image and I F*cked You All indicate Bush2 and his presidency will be emotional lightning rods much like Clinton, Kennedy, Nixon and their presidencies. Earlier presidencies had as much if not more challenges but these remain in walking memory (living people have direct experience of them) so their emotional baggage is still heavy.

Seems About Right…

Seems About Right...

It’s not just presidential candidates who are humor’s targets.

THIS MAN SHOULD BE PRESIDENT!

THIS MAN SHOULD BE PRESIDENT!

This image is audience directed in several ways. John Stewart (as noted in One’s Crazy, One’s Acting Crazy. Guess Who’s Who!) is a well known personality and (to many) a respected journalist who specializes in humor. He’s also recognized as erudite, intellectual and a wit. His writers are also adept at focusing on what others don’t want the public to look at.

This image mocks the Bush2 administration’s decision not to show the horrors of war, something the Johnson administration realized too late.

This image could also be masking the question “Does government want an informed electorate?” Would Americans turn as quick a blind eye to waterboarding if there was no 911? Also, do Americans — and especially those elected few who make such decisions — recognize that by allowing and encouraging such things to occur they have agreed to be subject to such things themselves? If person A attacks person B, person A tacitly acknowledges that they, too, are subject to attack (even if that attack doesn’t come as retaliation from person B). If I, even as a citizen, allow waterboarding to occur I am agreeing to be waterboarded at some point in time.

From the WSJ

“Republican political figure and tea-party favorite Christine O’Donnell says she’s backing Mitt Romney’s presidential bid,” the Associated Press reports:
O’Donnell cites executive experience as part of her reason for endorsing Romney. She announced her decision Tuesday night during an interview on Fox News Channel.

O’Donnell may be best known nationally for a campaign commercial in which she declared “I’m not a witch,” a response to a statement she’d made years earlier in which she said she’d dabbled in witchcraft.

It may be that that ad wasn’t true. After all, if O’Donnell isn’t a witch, who turned Romney’s chief opponent into a Newt?

This is another example of a targeted audience. The joke requires cultural and historic knowledge to appreciate fully.