Accepted paper:

In fake we (dis)trust - vernacular language of Romanian online activism


Adrian Stoicescu (University of Bucharest)

Paper short abstract:

Among many other forms, the comic sanction of populist discourse is ubiquitous to the forms of online activism. A delegitimisations tool, the viralised humorous visuals mark the exercise of power in context of protest cultures.

Paper long abstract:

During the last almost four years since the previous parliamentary elections, the Romanian society has turned into a battle ground for achieving political legitimacy. On one side there is the government forming parliamentary majority claiming the vote legitimacy whilst on the other side there is the awakened civil society that contest every decision, movement, political program, in one word, any visible action the new political majority makes. Besides the street rallies, the contestation movement manifested more vividly and with constant presence in the online environment. Alongside numerous commentaries, posts from press covering both present news and researched compromising past events, politicians' pictures taken by protesters-cum-journalists, the Facebook civil action groups consist of a wealth of humorous, nonsensical even grotesque memes to document the present time political case. Jokes and memes are the most used forms of sanctioning by means of comic content. This paper will look at such comic instances are shaped as repellants of populist speech, counteracting forms of expressing legitimacy and achieving a compensatory power, and, additionally, as a 'news agency' building in the groups of political peers the feeling of immediacy of reaction. My analysis will focus on first, the factual (fictional) visual and textual resources employed in the making of such speeches and second, the attempts to resist populist discourse by forms of affective defiance. Furthermore, this paper will make an attempt to sketch some metrics of such forms reception by analyzing the shares and comments patters associated with the comic forms.

panel P160
Resisting Populism: Memes, Extreme Speech, and the Aesthetics of Affect and Defiance