Binders full of LOLitics: Political humour, internet memes, and play in the 2012 US Presidential Election (and beyond)

Geniesa Tay


This paper examines the phenomenon of humorous Internet memes within the context of news and political culture, sometimes referred to as LOLitics. LOLitics are a category of digital texts created by ordinary individuals that, like most political humour, are usually responses to news events or gaffes committed by political figures. The analysis situates LOLitics as popular culture products that exist within the intersection between pleasure-driven ‘play’ and (arguably) genuine political discourse. LOLitics are prominent due to their spreadability and replicability, and the amount of texts being produced has visibly risen over the last election cycle. Internet memes have become one of the default ways to respond to particular situations online, and this certainly reflects the reaction towards news and political culture. The 2012 US Presidential election is applied as a case study in examining the significance of these Internet memes to everyday citizen discourse, and the relationships between ordinary citizens, the mainstream media, and politics. The results argue that humorous viral texts, both visual and verbal, reveal the potential power that ordinary people have in setting the agenda for newsmakers, and to communicate political criticism through popular culture.


Internet memes, political humour, play, presidential elections, popular culture

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