The Interpretive Challenges of American Presidential Discourse Described as Joking (Russian Translation)
pdf (Русский)

Abstract views: 108
PDF Downloads: 72

Keywords

Joking
discourse
politics
USA
Trump
kidding
sarcasm
interpretation
polarization
priming

How to Cite

Davies, C., & Semikolennykh, M. (2021). The Interpretive Challenges of American Presidential Discourse Described as Joking (Russian Translation). Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 3(3), 296-320. https://doi.org/10.46539/gmd.v3i3.222

Abstract

When the American President speaks in a way that is later characterized as joking/kidding, a wide range of interpretations become possible. At a minimum, there are two basic interpretations: serious and non-serious.At the other extreme, there may be as many nuanced interpretations as there are audiences for the discourse. In this study, I will first examine the “just/only joking” strategy, considering how it fits within a theoretical understanding of humorous discourse, and lay out the prototypical strategic moves. Then I will explore how the two main audiences (the currently polarized political groupings in the United States) tend to interpret the “joking” in relation to the performance style of President Donald J. Trump. Using three examples, I will attempt to show how the same utterance can be interpreted by one audience as a harmless joke and by the other as a grave threat.

https://doi.org/10.46539/gmd.v3i3.222
pdf (Русский)

References

Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The Dialogic Imagination: Four essays (M. Holquist, Ed.; C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press.

Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution, and epistemology. New York: Ballantine Books.

Billig, M. (2005). Laughter and Ridicule: Towards a Social Critique of Humour. London: Sage.

Blake, A. (2016, July 28). Donald Trump’s incredible new defense of his Russia-spying-on-Hillary comments: Just kidding! Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/07/28/donald-trumps-incredible-new-defense-of-his-russia-spying-on-hillary-comments-just-kidding/

Boot, M. (2018, March 7). President Trump’s ‘jokes’ are no laughing matter. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/03/07/president-trumps-jokes-are-no-laughing-matter/

Brennan, J. O. (2018, August 16). President Trump’s Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/16/opinion/john-brennan-trump-russia-collusion-security-clearance.html

Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2013). Politeness: Some Universals of Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bublé, C. (2019, September 30). In Act of Defiance, FEC Chair Tweets Memo on Foreign Election Interference Over GOP Commissioner’s Objections. Retrieved from Government Executive website: https://www.govexec.com/oversight/2019/09/act-defiance-fec-chair-tweets-memo-foreign-election-interference-over-gop-commissioners-objections/160248/

Caruso, J. (2018, March 8). Trump Jokes About Becoming ‘President For Life’ In Private Dinner. Retrieved from The Daily Caller website: https://dailycaller.com/2018/03/04/trump-president-for-life/

C-SPAN. (2016). Donald Trump on Russia & missing Hillary Clinton emails (C-SPAN). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kxG8uJUsWU

Davies, C. E. (2006). Gendered sense of humor as expressed through aesthetic typifications. Journal of Pragmatics, 38(1), 96–113. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2005.06.006

Davies, C. E. (2018). Satirical news discourse and public pedagogy: Stephen Colbert’s “Truthiness”. International Round Table: “Social Studies of Humor and Laughter”. St-Petersburg, Russia, July 1-5. Presented at the St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg.

Egan, L. (2019, March 3). Trump lets loose at CPAC in longest speech of his presidency. Retrieved from NBC News website: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-lets-loose-cpac-longest-speech-his-presidency-n978556

Fine, G. A., & Soucey, M. de. (2005). Joking cultures: Humor themes as social regulation in group life. Humor - International Journal of Humor Research, 18(1), 1–22. doi: 10.1515/humr.2005.18.1.1

Freud, S. (1905). Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (The Standard Edition). New York: W. W Norton & Co.

Gittleson, B. (2016, January 23). Donald Trump Jokes He Could ‘Shoot Somebody’ Without Losing Support. Retrieved from ABC News website: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trump-jokes-shoot-losing-support/story?id=36474145

Goddard, K. (2018). “Joking, kidding, teasing”: Slippery categories for cross-cultural comparison but key words for understanding Anglo conversational humor. Intercultural Pragmatics, 15(4), 487–514. doi: 10.1515/ip-2018-0017

Goldstein, E. B. (2015). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience (4th ed.). S.l.: Wadsworth.

Graham, D. A. (2016, July 27). Trump’s Plea for Russia to Hack the U.S. Government. Retrieved from The Atlantic website: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/trump-pleas-for-russia-to-hack-classified-american-information/493244/

Hains, T. (2018, March 4). ‘Fox & Friends’ on Trump’s President-for-Life Remark: “It’s A Joke!” “Take It Figuratively”. Retrieved from RealClearPolitics website: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/03/04/fox__friends_on_trumps_president-for-life_remark_its_a_joke_its_a_joke.html

Hay, J. (2001). The pragmatics of humor support. Humor – International Journal of Humor Research, 14(1), 55–82. doi: 10.1515/humr.14.1.55

Jerde, S. (2016, January 26). Trump: ‘Obviously’ I Was Joking About Shooting People And Not Losing Votes. Retrieved from Talking Points Memo website: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-shooting-people-obvious-joke

Kid. (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymology Dictionary website: https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=kid&ref=searchbar_searchhint

Liptak, K. (2018, March 4). Trump on China’s Xi consolidating power: ’Maybe we’ll give that a shot some day. Retrieved from CNN website: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/03/politics/trump-maralago-remarks/index.html

Marsh, M. (2018). Believe Me, I’m Joking: The Dialectics of the Legend and the Dialectics of Humor. The Journal of American Folklore, 131(522), 444. doi: 10.5406/jamerfolk.131.522.0444

Martin, R. A. (2003). Sense of humor. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Positive psychological assessment: A handbook of models and measures (pp. 313–326). Washington, DC,: American Psychological Association.

Mathews, L. (2016, January 24). Donald Trump Says He Could ‘Shoot Somebody’ and Not Lose Voters. Retrieved from TVGuide.com website: https://www.tvguide.com/news/donald-trump-i-could-shoot-somebody/

Media Matters Staff. (2016, July 27). David Gregory: Trump Suggestion That Russia Hack Clinton’s Email Server Is Like “A Child Playing With Matches”.

Merica, D. (2017, June 26). Spicer: Trump was ‘joking’ when he asked Russia to hack Clinton. Retrieved from CNN Politics website: https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/26/politics/trump-clinton-russia-hacking-email-joking/index.html

Mikelionis, L. (2018, August 17). Joke’s on Brennan for failing to find humor in Trump’s remark, ‘Dilbert’ cartoonist says [Text.Article]. Retrieved from Fox News website: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/jokes-on-brennan-for-failing-to-find-humor-in-trumps-remark-dilbert-cartoonist-says

Mueller, R. S. (2019). The Mueller Report: Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House Pub.

Okonski, L. (2017). Review: Sarcasm in the Age of Trump Reviewed Work(s): Talk Is Cheap: Sarcasm, Alienation, and the Evolution of Language by John Haiman. The American Journal of Psychology, 130(4), 526. doi: 10.5406/amerjpsyc.130.4.0526

Parker, A. (2017, May 29). Snubs and slights are part of the job in Trump’s White House. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/snubs-and-slights-are-part-of-the-job-in-trumps-white-house/2017/05/29/f5c9d5c0-417a-11e7-9869-bac8b446820a_story.html

Perlez, J. (2018, March 4). ‘President for Life’? Trump’s Remarks About Xi Find Fans in China. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/04/world/asia/donald-trump-xi-jinping-term-limits.html

Rieger, J. M. (2016, April 16). ‘You don’t understand sarcasm’: How Trump and his allies downplay his comments. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/16/you-dont-understand-sarcasm-how-trump-his-allies-downplay-his-comments/

Ruiz, D. (2017, October 10). Huckabee Sanders Tells Press to “Get a Sense of Humor,” Says Trump was Joking about Tillerson’s IQ. Retrieved from Washington Free Beacon website: https://freebeacon.com/politics/huckabee-sanders-press-sense-of-humor-trump-joking-about-tillersons-iq/

Savan, L. (2016, September 26). Have You Ever Seen Donald Trump Laugh? The Nation Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/have-you-ever-seen-donald-trump-laugh/

Schumpeter, J. A. (1942). Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. New York: Harper & Row.

Sclafani, J. (2016, March 25). The Idiolect of Donald Trump. Retrieved from Scientific American Blog Network website: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/the-idiolect-of-donald-trump/

Sclafani, J. (2017). Talking Donald Trump: A Sociolinguistic Study of Style, Metadiscourse and Political Identity. Routledge. Retrieved from http://www.myilibrary.com?id=1025963

Scovell, N. (2018, April 28). Opinion | Can Donald Trump Get a Laugh? The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/28/opinion/donald-trump-jokes-laughs.html

Skalicky, S., Berger, C. M., & Bell, N. D. (2015). The functions of “just kidding” in American English. Journal of Pragmatics, 85, 18–31. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2015.05.024

Smith, A. (2018, February 6). The White House has a favorite excuse to explain away some of Trump’s most controversial statements. Retrieved from Business Insider website: https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-joking-excuse-democrats-treason-2018-2

Steed, J. P. (2016). Tweets as cited in Wade (Thesocietypages.org) Aug. 10, with insights from his unpublished diss on the social functions of humor: Joke -making Jews /jokes making Jews: Essays on humor and identity in American Jewish fiction, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing 2004. Retrieved from https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2016/08/10/humor-theorist-explains-trumps-joke-about-killing-hillary-clinton/

Stewart, E. (2018, March 4). Trump says China’s Xi is ‘president for life’—And maybe America should try it. Retrieved from Vox website: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/4/17077642/trump-xi-china-fundraiser

Theye, K., & Melling, S. (2018). Total Losers and Bad Hombres: The Political Incorrectness and Perceived Authenticity of Donald J. Trump. Southern Communication Journal, 83(5), 322–337. doi: 10.1080/1041794X.2018.1511747

Thompson, M. (2016, August 27). From Trump to Brexit rhetoric: How today’s politicians have got away with words. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/27/from-trump-to-brexit-rhetoric-how-todays-politicians-have-got-away-with-words

Trump, D. J. (2016a). Trump on shooting someone: ‘Of course I was joking’ - CNN Video. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/01/25/donald-trump-shoot-someone-loyal-joke-tsr-sot.cnn

Trump, D. J. (2016b, January 23). I Could Stand In the Middle Of Fifth Avenue And Shoot Somebody And I Wouldn’t Lose Any Voters. Retrieved from Real Clear Politics website: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/01/23/trump_i_could_stand_in_the_middle_of_fifth_avenue_and_shoot_somebody_and_i_wouldnt_lose_any_voters.html

Urban Dictionary: Schrödinger’s Douchebag. (n.d.). Retrieved from Urban Dictionary website: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s%20Douchebag

Vogel, J. (2015). Freaks in the Reagan Era: James Baldwin, the New Pop Cinema, and the American Ideal of Manhood. The Journal of Popular Culture, 48(3), 464–486. doi: 10.1111/jpcu.12278

Weiser, B., & Paybarah, A. (2019, October 23). If Trump Shoots Someone on 5th Ave., Does He Have Immunity? His Lawyer Says Yes. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/23/nyregion/trump-taxes-vance.html

Young, D. G., Bagozzi, B. E., Goldring, A., Poulsen, S., & Drouin, E. (2019). Psychology, political ideology, and humor appreciation: Why is satire so liberal? Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 8(2), 134–147. doi: 10.1037/ppm0000157

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.