Cartoons in memes: Recycling popular art forms as a humorous response to the Covid-19 pandemic



Rok publikování 2024
Druh Článek v odborném periodiku
Časopis / Zdroj (under review)
Klíčová slova covid-19 humour; cartoons; animation movies; memes; multimodality; popular art
Popis As an established form of semiotic expression in the digital world, memes provide online users with the possibility to express diverse functions, including articulating shared norms and values. Memes function as multimodal signs, combining pre-existing visual elements with typically innovative textual components. Due to their dependence on current events, they tend to be ephemeral, serving to provide a topical – and often humorous – commentary and criticism on contemporary society. Drawing on the international database of COVID-related humour, this paper explores a hitherto overlooked area of research, specifically how memes draw on visual aspects of popular culture by incorporating well-known cartoons and animated movies in order to provide humorous social commentary on diverse aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on a social semiotic and multimodal perspective, the research identifies how meme creators draw on globally as well as locally known cartoons, what humorous themes they employ, and what shared and newly constructed meanings they operate with. The findings indicate that the creative re-use of established intertextual references, manifested in humorous memes through the reworking of cartoon characters and animated films, is related, on the one hand, to the ‘hypermemetic logic’ (Shifman) of replicating images, and on other, to the focus on the ‘performative self’, with users reflecting on the contrast of their pre-pandemic lives (cued by childhood reminiscences associated with cartoon imagery) and the current reality.
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