ReadingResponse2/Zoe Storch

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 ( 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 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.

Secondary Research/Zoe Storch

  • A plan written in 2005 to begin the regrowth and renovation of businesses and residential areas in the Camp Washington area
  • “Camp Washington NBD was once seen as a strong business community, the center of commerce for the industrial and residential communities. More recently, Camp Washington NBD has been perceived as an economically viable area for reinvestment.” (2)
  • Would be an interesting followup to see if these goals were achieved
  • Useful history about the area and what major projects have occurred over the years

Thesis: Two years before the financial crash of 2007, Camp Washington developed a multi year redevelopment and market feasibility plan. Comparing their goals with today’s redevelopment, Camp Washington hasn’t been able to achieve all of the benchmarks they set for themselves.

  • News segment about plans to renovate areas of Camp Washington today
  • Still trying to get funding and renovations under way (all still speculative)
  • Rhinegeist wants to put medical marijuana plant (needs to win bid)
  • Crosley Building Renovation (radio building to housing)

Thesis: As of July 2017, there are many speculative renovations and bids on Camp Washington area buildings to turn them into businesses and housing which points at population growth and economic upturn.

  • Comprehensive study that covers changes between 2005-2009 of many major social and economic conditions in Cincinnati neighborhoods
  • “Among the working class white Appalachian areas Camp Washington, South Fairmount, the East End, and Lower Price Hill saw improvements in the 2000 to 2005-2009 period.” (43)
  • P 59- drop out rates increase 14.5% from 2000-2009
  • P 88- Unemployment rates increase 2% from 2000-2009
  • Joblessness rates increase 1% from 2000-2009

Thesis: Taking data from multiple charts in this study, there is a small but significant increase in both drop out and unemployment rates in the Camp Washington area. These correspond to the 2007 financial crash. Although the area was slightly affected by this economic change, there’s not enough data to support a large financial downturn due to it.

Synthesis: Looking at these three documents, it’s unclear if some of the financial downturn Camp Washington has experienced post 2007 is due fully to the crash or if other factors affected it. Currently, there are a few Camp Washington area organizations that are working to renovate and redevelop with the help of investors and local area businesses (which is a good sign that money is being put into the area). Overall, it seems like the financial crash slightly affected the business district of Camp Washington, but 10 years later, they are still creating jobs and income for the area with new renovation projects.


Reading Response 1/Zoe Storch

In Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations summarizes their findings on the causes of the financial crisis. The article claims that they have found four root causes of the financial crisis: high risk lending, regulatory failures, inflated credit ratings, and poor quality financial products. The 2008 Housing Crisis, on the other hand, argues that government policies, which allowed consumer’s affordable loans, were not to blame for the crash. It says that the weakness of the government was to lack oversight in consumer protection, mortgage securitization, and financial markets. It claims that the majority of the problem came from homeowners buying risky products, which would become unaffordable when economic conditions changed.


While both articles point out some similar causes of the crisis, the first places blame almost directly on the Office of Thrift Supervision and banking practices, while the second tries its hardest to prove the government played no role in it. Mortgages insured by the FHA didn’t cause the crisis, McArthur and Edelman claim. It was the predatory loans that led to crisis. Instead, the article focuses a good amount on the positive effects of government lending programs in the growth of homeownership in America. Article two also diverts the blame away from Fannie May and Freddie Mac, insisting that they provided liquidity to the mortgage market, allowing lenders to get repaid quickly.


Taking into account the evidence and opinions of both articles, one could argue that a new argument could be made that both private financial institutions as well as the government are to blame in the crash. Without adequate government collaboration and oversight, banks were left on a path to their own destruction. Numbers were being fudged on both sides to infer better turnouts than were actually happening. If government programs could work directly with banks and lenders to fact check before the situation spiraled out of control, the crash could have been more predictable, if not avoided altogether.


Closely related to the topics of these essays is an art exhibition, FDIC Insured (began in 2008), by Michael Mandiberg. During the great recession, he noticed that whenever a bank failed, the FDIC basically erased the company’s failure footprint from the internet. Mandiberg took note of this and collected the banks’ logos from the internet before they failed, displaying them on the covers of faulty investment guidebooks. These, along with other recession paraphernalia were carefully curated and displayed in the exhibition. The show opened on September 15th, the anniversary of the failure of Lehman Brothers. In its entirety, the exhibition is Mandiberg’s way of letting the institutions know they have no way to hide, even if their public internet presence has been fudged to show a perfect record. This show backs the argument that both the government and banks should have been more closely fact-checked and held accountable for their actions through the implementation of government funded programs and collaborations.

Here’s the link to the exhibition page