Saturday, September 26Институт «Высшая школа журналистики и массовых коммуникаций» СПбГУ

2020 Volume 7, No. 2

2020 Volume 7, No. 2

2020
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In this paper, a comparison between meme cycles and joke cycles is carried out, using the tools of the General Theory of Verbal Humor and its analysis of joke cycles as consisting of intertextual and metatextual variants of the original joke. It is shown that the same tools can be applied to joke cycles and to meme cycles. The methodology is applied to a meme cycle called Cheryl’s She Shed. The analysis shows that the users start from the original video featuring Cheryl’s shed on fire, but soon the process of meme creation (memeiosis) is activated and users start generating all sorts of memes remixing various aspects of the original video and adding other ideas, such as a conspiracy theory about the source of the fire. Eventually, the drift is broad enough that intertextual memes start to appear which require a reference to another text to function, and eventually meta-memes also appear (memes that fail to deliver a meme and are funny because of the violation of expectations). In conclusion, speakers use memes to express their concerns and interests. Meme cycles are very similar to joke cycles, except for the speed of diffusion, a shorter life span, and an increased ease of manipulation of images and text.

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Joke cycles nowadays emerge in social media networks and rely on intertextual links established among various texts/genres. Social media participants, in particular, are often inspired by current sociopolitical events and, as a response, create humorous texts which are disseminated online to convey their stances towards the events referred to and to amuse other members of social networks. Intertextuality plays a significant role in this process, as the humorous material created draws not only on serious texts about the events commented upon, but also on previous humorous material usually circulating online. The present case study involves the humorous texts produced after the unexpected landing of a commercial flight in Timişoara, Romania instead of Thessaloniki, Greece due to bad weather conditions. The event was mostly perceived as incongruous, and hence funny, by the Greek audience, so it quickly attracted media attention and generated both serious and humorous discussions in the Greek public sphere. The intertextual analysis of the data focuses on the humorous reactions to the event, in particular on the synergy between humor and intertextuality for creating and disseminating humor in online environments.  More specifically, it demonstrates how social media participants exploit and reframe textual material coming from diverse sources to produce entertaining texts, attract the attention of the audience, and contribute to online discussions of current affairs. During this process, online joke cycles seem to be created by imitating –in a sense– and recontextualizing the production process of oral joke cycles, which were popular among speakers before the advent and spreading of social media. The intertextual chain traced through the proposed analysis shows how serious and humorous texts become part of a transformation process in online contexts and for entertaining purposes.

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The long tradition of joking connected with the first day of April seems to be dying out in the era of fake news and scary headlines published every day. The aim of the article is to show the status of April Fools’ Day jokes in the Polish and English language context on the example of the material published on a single topic — swallowing inedible objects. In order to develop the methodology of analysis of humour in the news, it is useful to take into account the notion of incongruity, whether it is appropriate incongruity, background and foreground incongruities or various levels of meta-scripts. In order to discuss the collected material, it seems necessary to specify what kind of incongruities are involved as well as analyse the style of the stories in order to identify the intended message. The irrational behaviour of the stories’ protagonists seems to point the readers in the direction of a comic reading, but the stories are accompanied by pictures and even videos which aim at proving their credibility. The analysis of the selected examples points to the presence of incongruities, which are enhanced by colloquialisms as well as quasipunch lines. Some news published on the first day of April look like jokes, but do not end with the traditional April Fool punch line, while some others are similarly strange, although they are published on different occasions. Thus it is not easy to differentiate serious from non-serious news. The appearance of daily news with incongruous content could also be seen in a broader context as one of the elements of the trend towards “weirdization” of public discourse.

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The paper analyzes a variety of media texts that exist in the media sphere and discusses tendencies marking the changes in content as well as in the formal and functional organization of a text. The type of text is understood as an invariant, which can vary under the influence of different factors. And, though the invariant of the “type of text” is conventional, it cannot be described as a template that language speakers tend to reuse again and again. Transformations of the semantic, syntactic and functional text structure are inherent to different types of texts and can be influenced by factors which are internal or external to the generated text. The changes in the textual organization under discussion manifest themselves in the preferable use of a variety of language means belonging to different levels. This changes the functional potential and leads to the transformation of the semantic and syntactic macrostructure of the texts of various types. The changes in media texts are described as the tendency of hybridization, or, alternatively, splitting of the former text type into two or more text types. The latter tendency leads to the emergence of new variations of the text type. Thus the text changes its functional potential, i.e., its enrichment or impoverishment or a more subtle differentiation. The changes in the textual organization of media texts can be described within the unified theoretical approach to fictional, academic and other types of text as the manifestation of general cultural tendencies: (1) hybridization, which leads to either the division of the former type of text into two or more types; (2) change of the text’s functional potential; (3) changes in the text’s functionality in a specific culture and/or the types of discourse strategy.

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The article is devoted to the use of facetious tonality in news broadcasting on Russian TV channels (Channel One Russia, Russia-1, Russia-24, RBC, etc.). The object of this study is not merely informing in TV news communicant, but the communicative interaction of the participants representing the news to the audience. Acknowledgement of the thesis concerning the use of humor in mass media for the sake of professional communicative purposes is the basic attitude of the study. One of the tasks in such media formats, where a professional uses all possible communicative channels, is the task of organizing interaction in the conditions of broadcasting simultaneity. For such organization, professionals (hosts, journalists, experts) use a facetious tonality on the air. The research illustrates that the study of humor in the media is multifarious and diverse: firstly, parody media and genres are studied; secondly, the so-called comedy journalism is researched; thirdly, the use of humor in ‘serious’ news is analyzed. The study of the latter often leads some authors to the conclusion about the influential and even manipulative function of humor. Our analysis revealed three tasks to be solved with the help of facetious tonality: 1) demonstration of metatext interactions to actualize the event, 2) demonstration of the communicative role and status, 3) demonstration of a common position about the subject of the news report. The general purpose of using a facetious tonality is defined in the article as demonstration the concept of “demonstration” shows that the analyzed jokes on the air are not just an emotional reaction (as in ordinary communication), but also a rational technique.

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The paper is devoted to the metaphor in the context of creating a comic effect. There is a similarity between the nature of metaphors and the comical, the ability of perception of which refers to the evolutionary acquisition. The correlation of a metaphor and the comical is manifested in the comparison of the contradictory and the combination of the disproportionate. Despite the universality of the comical and a metaphor, the interpretation of knowledge modelled by the comic metaphor is governed by the sociocultural factor. The collected material allows us to conclude that there are separate comic metaphors, or metaphors that create a comic effect of a fragment / whole media text based on one or more metaphorical models. Based on the material of Bulgarian media texts, several groups of metaphors are identified which fulfil a comic effect. Among them, there is a lively relevant metaphor based on the distance of the frames, while the conceptual interaction is accompanied by the obligatory implicit appraisal. The second group is the creation of a comic effect by the metaphorization of linguistic and cultural signs, including precedent phenomena, with non-standard syntagmatics, characterized by the unpredictability and violation of stereotypical attitudes. The third group includes up dated, occasional metaphors as a means of expressing and realizing the pragmatic potential in the media language. The fourth group includes scenario metaphors, the comic effect of which is based on a complex of pragmatic and linguistic-stylistic signs of a metaphor. The presence of a lively and updated (occasional) metaphor in media discourse provides it with originality and criticality, disguises and smooths out — in a word, contributes to the implementation of its main pragmatic tasks — influencing the consciousness of a mass audience or addressee. The activity of a metaphor as a construct-script serves the organization and semantic development of a text.

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The modern Russian political discourse is characterized by the thrust of the vector of satirical modality against an external enemy, which is played by states that support the policy of sanctions and oppose Russia in the foreign policy arena. The satire has a polemic charge corresponding to the communicative task of exposing and convicting the enemy. The comical source is the contradictions of the very reality. The goal of the research is to identify communicative response regularities to comic manifestations which are found in media speech interaction. The discovery of these patterns makes it possible to understand how the embeddedness of any text in a dialogue (its intermediate position in communication) affects the features of text making. Our focus is on model text forms that originate from a result of the “meeting” of two texts. The material of this study is the media discourse centered on the prank by Vovan and Lexus, based on the joke over US Congresswoman, Maxine Waters, which was posted by Russian media: “RIA Novosti”, “Gazeta.ru”, “Nezavisimoye obozreniye (Independent review)”, “Tsargrad”, and others. The comedy formed by the prank arose from the contradiction between the US political establishment representatives’ arrogance, the way they appear in the Russian media, and their ignorance. We analyzed speech models of users’ comments to the video prank on YouTube and to publications about it in network media. As the study illustrated, several types of reactions to the prank are formed in network communication: disapproval of the prank and pranksters, approval of the pranksters’ actions, ridiculing the “victim” of the prank, expressing an emotional reaction to the comic form, expressing a reaction to the satirical content, comical playful comments, and encouraging pranksters to conduct further activities.

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The article discusses the use of canned jokes in mass media texts and radio programs. The study is focused on the categorizing function of canned jokes and their role in the explanation of the state of affairs. Initially an oral genre, canned jokes often function as culturally significant texts which refer to certain typical situations. Being cited or told in the context of a newspaper article or a radio program, jokes become a kind of cognitive scheme on the basis of which the current situation is explained. Such use of canned jokes as tools for categorization differs from telling jokes with the aim to entertain. In mass media discourse canned jokes are used in discussions of acute social problems: they make the understanding of a situation easier for participants and at the same time they ease emotional tension which is characteristic of discussions of important social issues. As part of another text, canned jokes function as multifaceted tool, which makes it easier to convey information and implicit meaning. The article analyses the relations between components of the two situations: the one described in the canned joke and the real one. It is claimed that an understanding of current affairs is the result of conceptual integration of the two situations. Relative contextual independence is the genre property of canned jokes which allows them to function as a categorization tool. Language speakers use them as culturally significant texts and establish cross-textual connections that activate additional knowledge about the world.

2020
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The article discusses the possibilities of representing Internet memes in the modern media sphere. An anthropological approach to the study of the use of memes in media is indicated. The Internet meme is understood as a new universal unit of measurement that allows you to explore the communicative space on a common basis. The genre specificity of the Internet meme is defined through the following parameters: 1) expanding the scope of distribution beyond the Internet, primarily in the media sphere; 2) the secondary nature of genre (due to the technological features of the sphere of origin); 3) the multicode nature and polysemantics (in representation and interpretation); 4) transformation (“mutation” of a meme from one to another — memes are constantly updated, mixed, forming an increasingly complex and specific creolized language of Internet communities); 5) precedent nature (concepts / ideas); 6) multifunctionality (manifested in the implementation of not only entertaining functions, but also social, including making an impact). The problem of the genre nature of the meme is considered from the point of view of possible transformations consisting in transferring the meme to journalistic texts. Attention is drawn to the role of memes in the formation of media content and how journalists handle the popular Internet phenomena. In media texts created by journalists, in particular in federallevel Internet publications and television media, the basic types of Internet memes are revealed: textual, visual, and creolized. The idea of memes as “newsmakers,” that is, as special sources of information that often do not have a certain authorship and actually do not offer themselves for publication, is proposed. The trends in the use of memes in modern journalism and the possible effects of such use associated with the impact on recipients are determined.