Fadi Hirzalla is a political and communication scientist, specializing in media and citizenship. He is currently a senior researcher at Erasmus University Rotterdam and a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Liesbet van Zoonen is professor of Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam and dean of the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities. She specializes in gender and (new) media, politics and popular culture.
In the context of the many and persistent Islam controversies, we investigate how activist Muslim comedy aims to unite Muslims and non-Muslims. To this purpose and to further current research and theory on humor functions, we develop a morality-based analytic framework that demonstrates the social potentials of humor. We propose to approach humor as engendering moral appeals that function as sign posts, indicating to audiences whom they ought to support based on their shared virtues, and which people ought to be defied for their vices. Our case study focuses on the documentary The Muslims are Coming! Based on a semiotic analysis, we find that this movie invites non-Muslims to unite with Muslims based on their shared normality, modernity and peacefulness. Furthermore, the unified in-group is invited to oppose three out-groups: conservative Muslims, terrorists, and ignorant media. These appeals can be properly understood in the context of the general and official aim of the documentary, which is “combating Islamophobia”, but they also produce particular limitations, for instance with respect to gender, and tend to smoothen legitimate difference.
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Bilici, Mucahit. 2010. Muslim ethnic comedy: Inversions of Islamophobia. In Andrew Shryock (ed.), Islamophobia / Islamophilia: Beyond the politics of enemy and friend, 195–208. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Booth, William. 2014. Gaza comedy troupe seeks laughs without offending Hamas government. The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com (accessed 25 January 2015).
Copp, David. 2001. Morality, normativity and society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dauvergne, Peter & Kate J. Neville. 2011. Mindbombs of right and wrong: Cycles of contention in the activist campaign to stop Canada’s seal hunt. Environmental Politics 20(2). 192–209.
Dauvergne, Peter & Kate J. Neville. 2011. Mindbombs of right and wrong: Cycles of contention in the activist campaign to stop Canada’s seal hunt. Environmental Politics 20(2). 192–209.10.1080/09644016.2011.551024)| false
Duits, Linda & Liesbet van Zoonen. 2006. Headscarves and porno-chic disciplining girls’ bodies in the European multicultural society. European Journal of Women’s Studies 13(2). 103–117.10.1177/1350506806062750)| false
Franks, Andres & Kyle Scherr. 2015. Using moral foundations to predict voting behavior: Regression models from the 2012 US presidential election. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 15(1). 213–232. DOI: .
Franks, Andres & Kyle Scherr. 2015. Using moral foundations to predict voting behavior: Regression models from the 2012 US presidential election. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 15(1). 213–232. DOI: 10.1111/asap.12074.)| false
Hirzalla, Fadi, Liesbet van Zoonen & Floris Müller. 2013. How funny can Islam controversies be? Comedians defending their faiths on YouTube. Television and New Media 14(1). 46–61.10.1177/1527476412453948)| false
Kuipers, Giselinde. 2011. The politics of humor in the public sphere: Cartoons, power and modernity in the first transnational humour scandal. European Journal of Cultural Studies 14(1). 63–80.10.1177/1367549410370072)| false
Tamura, Yuichi. 2007. Human rights accusation and the school rule controversies in Japan: Moral discourse, social problems work, and social problem solution. Sociological Spectrum 27(1). 81–102.10.1080/02732170601001201)| false
HUMOR, the official publication of the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS), was established over 25 years ago as an international interdisciplinary forum for the publication of high-quality research papers on humor as an important and universal human faculty. The journal publishes original contributions in areas such as interdisciplinary humor research, humor theory, and humor research methodologies.