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Title: “I haven’t heard anything about religion whatsoever”: Audience perceptions of anti-Muslim racism in Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator
Authors: Weaver, S
Bradley, L
Keywords: Anti-Muslim racism;The Dictator;General Aladeen;Islamophobia;Sacha Baron Cohen
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: De Gruyter
Citation: Humor: International journal of humor research, Forthcoming, 2016
Abstract: Since the late 1990s, Sacha Baron Cohen's characters have raised controversy, criticism and protest from various groups (for example, from Black activists in 2002 and Hasidic Jews in 2012). The comedy has also been described as satirical or anti-racist. Baron Cohen, as either Ali G, Borat, Bruno or General Aladeen, has consistently provided comedy that leads to public debate on the relationship between comedy and race, ethnicity and stereotype, and the nature of racism and ‘othering’ in comedy. Despite this significance, very little research has been conducted on how audiences receive the comedy. We present results from a recent focus group, audience reception study of the comedy of Baron Cohen, which recorded discourse from young people aged 18 to 29 years (n 49). The article examines the perceptions of Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism in the comedy, focusing on The Dictator. Four discourses are outlined from the focus groups. First, discussions that show agreement in the focus group and argue the comedy is Islamophobic or anti-Muslim; second, discussions that show disagreement in the focus group over the presence of Islamophobic or anti-Muslim content; third, discussions that view no, or almost no, signifiers in the comedy that denote either Islam as a religion or Muslims as an ethnic group; and forth, one example that suggests the comedy uses signifiers of the ‘other’ for ironic satire. These conversations are analysed through rhetorical discourse analysis to highlight the tropes that construct meaning in each.
ISSN: 1613-3722
Appears in Collections:Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Research Papers

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