A Sign of the Times: Humorous Slogans and Imagery in Modern Day Political Protest

Ellie Tomsett, Nathalie Weidhase

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter will focus on the use of comic slogans and imagery as part of modern-day political protest. Particular attention will be paid to the use of comedy within contemporary feminist activism against the erosion of women?s rights at the #LassWar protest (February 2017), Anti-Brexit protests (specifically those of March 2019), and marches against the state visit of Donald Trump to the UK (July 2018). Humour has been theorised in relation to the relief it can provide to individuals and communities. This relief is achieved through the public acknowledgement of a taboo subject within joking. Additionally humour and joking are affiliative and can operate as a cohesive force, enabling people to (temporarily) experience a sense of a collective identity (Medhurst, 2007). In the current environment humour therefore plays a central role in galvanising political resistance and airing challenging aspects of debate. Protest in the current context is no longer only about disrupting and claiming the physical spaces of society but finding ways to insert the protest into the feeds of the online space. The circulatory aspects of joking (the need to share the humorous image or quip) is a key tool to achieving this broader disruption beyond the physical space. The function of humour within protest has been particularly relevant to recent activism by feminist and women?s groups, as they have long been subjected to stereotypes that positions them as humourless. Both Brexit and Trump are symptoms of a male-dominated return to nationalist populism, and humour gives women an opportunity to articulate resistance to movements that arguably affect them the most (for example in the form of continued austerity or the threat to reproductive rights). This chapter will analyse the use of comic phrasing, cartoons and images within the signs and banners used during these recent public marches in the UK. The mediation of protest signs and slogans, and the commodification of women?s anger in these instances will be considered
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationResist! Protest Media and Popular Culture in the Brexit-Trump Era
    EditorsGuiliana Monteverde, Victoria McCollum
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherRowman and Littlefield International
    ISBN (Print)9781786615701
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 31 Oct 2020

    Publication series

    NameExperiments/On the Political


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