Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States (Paperback)

Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States By Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Cover Image
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For almost a decade, journalists and pundits have been asking why we don't see successful examples of political satire from conservatives or of opinion talk radio from liberals. This book turns that question on its head to argue that opinion talk is the political satire of the right and political satire is the opinion programming of the left. They look and feel like two different animals because their audiences are literally, two different animals.

In Irony and Outrage, political and media psychologist Dannagal Goldthwaite Young explores the aesthetics, underlying logics, and histories of these two seemingly distinct genres, making the case that they should be thought of as the logical extensions of the psychology of the left and right, respectively. One genre is guided by ambiguity, play, deliberation, and openness, while the other is guided by certainty, vigilance, instinct, and boundaries. While the audiences for Sean Hannity and John Oliver come from opposing political ideologies, both are high in political interest, knowledge, and engagement, and both lack faith in many of our core democratic institutions. Young argues that the roles that these two genres play for their viewers are strikingly similar: galvanizing the opinion of the left or the right, mobilizing citizens around certain causes, and expressing a frustration with traditional news coverage while offering alternative sources of information and meaning. One key way in which they differ, however, concludes Young, is in their capacity to be exploited by special interests and political elites.

Drawing on decades of research on political and media psychology and media effects, as well as historical accounts and interviews with comedians and comedy writers, Young unpacks satire's liberal "bias" and juxtaposes it with that of outrage's conservative "bias." She details how traits like tolerance for ambiguity and the motivation to engage with complex ideas shape our preferences for art, music, and literature; and how those same traits correlate with political ideology. In turn, she illustrates how these traits help explain why liberals and conservatives vary in the genres of political information they prefer to create and consume.

About the Author

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young is Professor of Communication at the University of Delaware and the Center for Political Communication, a Distinguished Research Fellow with the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and member of the National Institute for Civil Discourse Research Network. Her research on the psychology, content, and effects of political entertainment has been widely published in academic journals and media outlets, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review, Variety, and National Public Radio. She has also been an improvisational comedian with ComedySportz Philadelphia since 1999, and is the creator and host of Dr. Young Unpacks, a playful deep dive into the psychology of media, politics, and pop culture.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780197581803
ISBN-10: 0197581803
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: September 1st, 2021
Pages: 288
Language: English