Pop Culture and Social Media as Political Spaces

By Kaileigh La Belle

This week’s readings focused heavily on media and the transmission of far-right ideas therein. Popular culture and the internet feature heavily in nearly every article. One of the things that I found most intriguing was the construction of popular culture, social media, and the internet as a political space, one which can be connected to but is ultimately distinct from legacy media. The characterizations of the internet/pop culture as flexible, transmissible, and translatable are recurrent in these articles and are, particularly in Doerr’s article, constructed as something conducive to the spread of far-right ideas. While I do agree with these authors that the internet is a space where knowledge can be transferred more rapidly, I nonetheless found myself wondering how these subcultures deal with a ‘containment breech’ so to speak, when these memes/images/narratives are shared outside of their intended audiences and used in ways other than the intended. As these authors highlight, these images/tv shows/memes/etc are manifestations of and situated within particular discourses that are familiar to and therefore legible to a particular person/group. Yet, they are put into a space that is not exclusively occupied by people of that mindset. For example, I was particularly shocked to see the ‘I know the feel bro’ meme in this context, as I have seen similar ones spread in leftist/left-leaning Indigenous online spaces to poke fun at and highlight the irony of settlers panicking about ‘invaders’. While I think the plurality of interpretations can act as a shield from criticism, I do think that the transmissibility of the internet is multifaceted. As such we should consider how it can also be muddling and how that might affect politics. 

One Reply to “Pop Culture and Social Media as Political Spaces”

  1. Very interesting point on meme templates, and I touched a bit about this in my post as well. I find that we really must remember that with memes in particular, more often than not the templates themselves originally have absolutely nothing to do with political discourse, but are taken and used for such a purpose because of how popular of a medium memes have become. It is honestly a shame to see a medium created with the sole purpose of providing cheap unapologetic laughs be used like this, but I think it was inevitable given the ever wider accessibility of the internet.

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