Meme Diplomacy

The president of the United States wanted to get the word out about ACA’s deadline. What did he do? He did a 5 minute skit to plug his goal with A list slapstick comedian Zach Galifianakis. Yes, the audience was domestic, and yes, let’s not discuss its whether it worked or not. But the POTUS decided to go with humor. There’s something to be said about the utility in emotionally spread content. Everyone has them–emotions that is. While certain points of pd messages may rely on potentially more esoteric underpinnings, there’s no guarantee that everyone will understand the issue. As Wallin points out in Challenges of the Internet and Social Media in PD,  humor-based approaches to communication are much more easily spread, and done so in a viral fashion, or the grassroots of the internet, so to speak. The bottom up approach certainly improves the relatability of a message, and  I agree with Wallin that government content often falls short of any emotional response. However, as it was mentioned in class, how feasible is viral diplomacy?  I’m not suggesting that state deparment invest in cat posters and recruit the guy from The Oatmeal, but this niche of diplomatic tools could be further explored as a alternate or supplemental way to present information to foreign publics. There is the obvious pitfall of cultural differences in humor, but people all have the same axioms that make them laugh. Jon Stewart is domestic example of an actor in the media that supplies pieces of salient policy relevant material  then and wraps it up in humor to make it stick. Technically, his show is a comedy program, however, his influence extends beyond comedy central.  Wallin goes with saying that people love to be heard and interact, and be seen, etc. However,  I think the engaging way in which Stewart consistently and socratically approaches the content on his show has a significant effect and less liability and interactive approaches such as twitter. Perhaps the U.S. is a little slower than other countries as picking up on the emotionality of reporting news. I don’t believe all Hura reports in the same way that Russia Today does. Plenty of foreign news outlets within the U.S. discuss U.S. politics with critical tones that in certain cases signal that an emotional response is what is called for, or that the information being presented is worth sharing and remembering. Nothing is wrong with some framing as long as the integrity of the information is maintained.

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