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To Laugh or Cry?
My World on May 16, 2005

Humorous poster from Jason Miller at Message No.4769 on transform_dom at Yahoo Groups.

Shared on transform_dom, Message No. 4769, by Jason Miller
We Get It.
Let's Consider What It Means.

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: May 16, 2005
Latest Update: May 16, 2005

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To Laugh or Cry? My World on May 16, 2005

Transform_dom Message No. 4769. Good work, Jason. Where'd you find it? Attribution, remember? My bet is it's floating around the Internet.

For all of you still struggling with getting my e-mail and being sure you've earned an A in your Independent Study, I figured this was a good example to discuss with conceptual links.

  • Cheryl's comment, in Message No. 4770, "Now that's funny!!! But true......" suggests the cross messages. Funny, but true.

    Henri Bergson said that we laugh when things are exaggerated; when one seems to act like an automaton instead of a thinking human; when we see another do something that we might have done but, thank goodness, didn't, like slip and fall; when another does something foolish, and we laugh, knowing that we would never do that, or be taken in that way. In other words we laugh at social situations that catch someone else in a place we wouldn't want to be and are thankful that we're not. Using this very brief and inadequate summary of Bergson's ideas of what makes us laugh, let's look at the Condi Rice Poster more carefully.

    • Why Funny?

    • Condoleezza Rice is a woman. Most males in our society would not put a woman in charge. As Secretary of State, Condi is in charge.We laugh because the males have done something that males in power wouldn't normally do, and they don't seem to get it. Condi's put one over on them. A woman is in charge.

    • "But true"

    • Here, Cheryl, is responding to the concept of who put one over on whom? Although Condi's position makes it look like the males in power have had one put over on them in both race and gender, what is Condi's philosophy and political loyalty? To the present conservative administration, and she seems to share their ideas and share in their privilege. Then maybe we're the ones who had one put over on us, because we think we've put one over on them, when, in fact, they've put one over on us by dressing one of "theirs" as a wolf in lamb's clothing. Maybe they're the ones who're laughing.

    • The Pejorative"Whitey"

    • Who are "us" and "them"?

      By attributing the term "Whitey" to Condi in the poster, Condi would seem to be identified with the liberal "us", which I chose as "us," because it belongs to most of you in my classes. In other classes, in other cultural settings, the "us" and "them" would have to be redefined. But there is conflict here in that by her very appointment to Secretary of State, Condi is identified as one of "them." If, by this poster, "they" have convinced "us" that Condi is on our side in the liberal/conservative struggle, maybe I should be crying, not laughing, because I think that conclusion would be wrong.

      Look carefully at how confusing imagery can be when used to persuade. Being aware is our only defense against being tricked and laughed at. Using social theory to question our first responses is a good way to stay aware.

      Funny or sad, the messages are real. And when even our humor is this complex, it tells us that the issues that divide us are no longer simple, with easy answers. It's time for both illocutionary and governance discourse.

      love and peace, jeanne

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