“Can Jokes Bring Down Governments” illustrates the political power of jokes and memes as well as argues for the proper use of them in certain scenarious, proving that the designer should serve as the “template creater” in most cases for others to enter their own opinions and jabs. My favorite quote from this reading is pretty spot on in respect to today’s political climate. “Responding to a sensical question with a meaningless answer,” writes MetaHaven “is an effective tool to negate the politics of the frame in which the question was posed.” Jokes have the power to switch authority from the powerful to the powerless. They’re a “protocol weapon of democracy” which disrupt the structure of the “oppressor and oppressed.” They also have the ability to respond to completely hilarious politics in equally hilarious ways by illustrating sheer stupidity in a digestable artform. This writing points out the immense power of jokes, but also the missed opportunities and failed attempts by some artists.
“Designers, rather than directly designing the messages themselves,” MetaHaven writes, “may also create the formats to best channel them.” Looking back at failed attempts to powerfully affect politics with jokes, it becomes clear that, just like good design, good humor often needs a template. Enter - memes. Memes are more than just some words written in Impact, laid atop a stupid looking cat. Memes are the voice of a new generation of political activists. I personally think that turning a serious subject on its head and knocking a political figure down a few levels is always a good thing. With this new wave of easily accessible artistic and political expression, it becomes harder to take ourselves seriously. On one hand, this has proven incredibly useful in forcing those in power to “check themselves before they wreck themselves”. On other hand, it’s made it way easier to ignore the grim situation before us and take action. Hiding behind a computer is easier than taking a stand in person.
I’m sure we all remember the “Trump has lip eyes” meme (http://www.brostrick.com/viral/funny-political-memes-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-sanders-cruz/). And, after we saw it, we could NEVER unsee it. Although it doesn’t use Impact or white type over an image, it’s still a common- structured meme. An even better hit at the president is the website http://trumpdonald.org. Just type it in, it’ll change your life. Apart from being pretty well designed and hilarious, this website illustrates the point that jokes have the power to demistify and equalize. The ability for citizens to speak freely (for now, at least) is what allows designers and artists to create nationwide movements through imagery and well thought out language.
Can jokes bring down governments? Probably not alone, but they can definitely humanize people and keep them in check. Plus, they make you feel a little better in times of political stupidity.