Online Humour, Cartoons, Videos, Memes, Jokes and Laughter in the Epoch of the Coronavirus

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.10.17

Keywords:

viral humour, COVID-19 quarantine, online exemplars, analysis of specific works, validity of humorous discourse amidst a global pandemic

Abstract

From the onset of the indefinite deferral of our previously taken-for-granted lives, an abundance of humorous online cartoons, jokes, memes, videos and other satirical material relating to the COVID-19 outbreak—and its consequences—has emerged. Humorous responses to this dire global pandemic proliferate irrespective of location, nationality, ethnicity, age, gender and/or socio-political affiliations. Against a background of enforced lockdowns, quarantine, and sometimes gross political ineptitude, with a mounting daily global death toll, humour referencing this scourge continues to blossom. This may seem counterintuitive or inappropriate at a time of heightened anxiety and fear apropos of an invisible killer-virus, known only in diagrammatic—and, ironically, aesthetically pleasing—visual form. Online humour evoking the COVID-19 crisis is expressed recursively via intertextuality referencing literary, visual, written, oral or other “texts.” Interpictoriality is evident with memes that reconfigure renowned visual artworks. The internet enables copious discourse related to the COVID-19 eruption/disruption.

Embedded in this article are examples to support the article’s theoretical basis, with intertextuality its major focus. Discussion follows, with speculation as to why humour, absurdity and wit are able to prosper in an environment of radical uncertainty and why joking about our parlous global predicament acts as a vital coping mechanism.

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Author Biography

Christine Nicholls, Australian National University, Canberra

Christine Nicholls is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University, Canberra. She has been published in diverse areas including visual art, sociolinguistics, anthropologically-related topics, literature (including children’s literature), biography, information visualization and education. She has written more than 20 books for adults and children, published by commercial publishers, with many winning national prizes. For 14 years she was the Australian Contributing Editor of Asian Art News and World Sculpture News (Hong Kong). A good deal of her writing has been influenced by the time she spent working at Lajamanu, a remote Aboriginal settlement in Australia’s Central Desert. Over the years she has had a strong online presence, including writing for The Conversation, and writing reviews and obituaries for various Australian newspapers.

This is her second humour-related article, with the first focussing on Warlpiri (Aboriginal) nicknaming practices. Currently she is writing a book on humour and rhetoric.

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Published

2020-11-24

How to Cite

Nicholls, C. (2020). Online Humour, Cartoons, Videos, Memes, Jokes and Laughter in the Epoch of the Coronavirus. Text Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture, (10), 274-318. https://doi.org/10.18778/2083-2931.10.17