Prepping my Entertainment and Politics course for spring and thought I'd dust off this goodie since it's as relevant as ever... Remember Archie Bunker? All in the Family? 1/
“lovable bigot” Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) aging patriarch, reluctant to adapt to the increasingly progressive era of the early 1970s, versus his foil: live-in son-in-law, Mike Stivic (Rob Reiner), liberal Democrat especially liberal on social issues related to race gender.
Things Archie said in the show: England is a "fag country"
In reference to racial integration: “the coons are comin’” and “equality is unfair!”
Lear wrote the character of Archie to poke fun at such a provincial belief system. In 2012 interview, Lear stated: "Archie was afraid of tomorrow. He was afraid of progress. Things had been moving too fast for him." The show was designed to parody his narrow-mindedness
CBS sought to distance itself from the controversial nature of the show through a disclaimer... which... perhaps was a good idea in light of what researchers later learned...
In 1974, Neil Vidmar &Milton Rokeach sought to understand whether people were selectively exposing themselves to the show - meaning liberals might be more likely to watch the show for the parody of the right. AND to understand whether people were engaging in selective perception
... maybe people were interpreting the show in a manner consistent w their world view. In which case, everybody would be laughing BUT folks who identified w Archie would be laughing at Mike's idiocy/naivete, and folks who identified w Mike would be laughing at Archie's bigotry.
Vidmar & Rokeach examined this in two samples - American teens &Canadian adults. They asked people their perceptions of the show, how often they watched, who they identified with, and who was the butt of the jokes. They also examined it by the racial views of the respondent
I still find this striking. Across both samples (but especially the US one), among those respondents with high prejudiced attitudes, they were significantly more likely admire Archie, see Archie as the winner, and Archie as the character who made the most sense.
And the real kicker - the thing that should give ironic satirists pause ... is the finding that often gets buried when people talk about this famous study. The selective exposure finding: People were selectively watching All in the Family. But they weren't progressive liberals
Check it out. Especially in the US teen sample, but people who watched the show most often were significantly more likely (than infrequent viewers) to hold prejudiced views, to admire Archie, and see ethnic slurs as not wrong.
My sense, in examining irony and satire comprehension and appreciation is that ironic satirists - after awhile - start to get a weird inkling that something isn't quite right. @DaveChappelle did on the set of Chappelle Show as a white crew member laughed a little too hard...
I think @StephenAtHome realized it back in 2014 or so after years of ironically satirizing a bloviating right wing pundit on The Colbert Report.
In 2016, @StephenAtHome told Terry Gross on @nprfreshair why he stopped The Report: "It wasn’t because I didn’t like it anymore – I still liked it – but I just thought ‘I’m not sure if I can actually keep this up without hurting someone…’
When Terry Gross asked @StephenAtHome to explain, he said, "I don’t know. It’s a feeling. I thought maybe I would make some big mistake with the character. Because he says - he would say - terrible things...
"...And I thought if I don’t play this tightly …If I didn’t maintain this discipline… I would simply slide into being like the thing I was mocking."

And, a Vidmar & Rokeach-inspired study by LaMarre, @klandreville and Beam confirms this: journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.117…
The trickiest part about ironically satirizing socially & culturally conservative views is that the psychology of social & cultural conservatives (heuristic processing, high need for closure, low need for cognition) makes is less likely that they will process ironic inversions...
[ironic inversion: saying the opposite of what you mean. describe something as awesome when you actually mean its fucking awful. Juxtaposing what IS with what OUGHT to be in a way that invites the audience to make the leap]
One of the arguments I explore in my book is that the underlying psychological traits (even physiological profile) of social/cultural conservatives makes them less likely to process irony in the spirit in which it is intended
... and WAY less likely to express political arguments using irony as a rhetorical structure. It's just not a natural pairing for the right.
This phenomenon also makes it tricky for liberal ironic satirists operating in a media environment in which anyone can encounter ANY message devoid of context.
If you enjoyed this little journey... you know what you'll love?

MY BOOKEDY BOOK... which is like THIS but with 115% MORE fun

"Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the US"
Coming August 2019 from Oxford University Press

H/T @donmontrey 👇
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