Chapter 27

Parody, Performativity, and Play

The Reinvigoration of Citizenship through Political Satire

Jeffrey P. Jones

A nation's political culture is an ever-changing, amorphous thing, comprised and shaped at any given time by numerous forces and behaviors that are never quite stable. Yet for decades in most Western societies, television played an enormously powerful role in establishing and maintaining some of the most basic normative (and seemingly stable) assumptions comprising the communicative dimensions of its political culture. These include aspects such as what constitutes legitimate forms of representation, discussion, display, and participation in and through the medium; who can legitimately speak there; how such speech will be regulated; and the ways in which viewers are expected to engage with it. This role played by television broadcasting has, of course, been greatly challenged over the past few decades through changes brought on by new media dynamics. At first through increased competition in the US cable and commercial broadcasting system (as well as competition to state-run television monopolies elsewhere) and then through the digital revolution that swept through all media forms and platforms (Jenkins 2006; Lotz 2007), processes of disruption, challenge, and change have been occurring at a rapid pace. Within political culture, this has led to a measureable impact on the dominant conceptions and assumptions of what constitutes mediated political communication ...

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