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Monsters and heroes: Memetic communication in Bolsonaro’s 2022 election campaign


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Gabriel Bayarri ToscanoUniversity of London- School of Advanced Study- Institute of Cultures, Languages and Societies- Cent ...


This article examines a series of memetic images used during the 2022 Brazilian election campaign to portray leaders of the Bolsonarist Brazilian far-right as heroes and their opponents as monsters. The purpose of the study is to analyze the use of humor and irony in constructing political violence and the ”monster” and ”hero” as comparative phenomena.

This research uses comparative visual analysis to reveal how humor and offense are used in the construction of political violence and the ”monster” and ”hero” archetypes. The relationship between humor and violence has been studied in various contexts, such as in Potter and Warren’s (1998) concept of ”camouflage” where violence is trivialized and concealed in comedy. The study also builds on previous research by Kati Förster & Cornelia Brantner (2016) on the intermingling of humor and violence in political criticism. The hypothesis suggests that the category of ”enemy” is not based on political arguments but on dehumanizing different groups.

The study involved conducting a digital ethnography of Bolsonarist Telegram groups during the 2022 election period. The researcher collected a sample of 200 memes from these groups, which were analyzed using the visual analysis method of Mey and Dietrich (2016).

Results and conclusions
The analysis of the memes showed how negative and dehumanized stereotypes were used to depict political opponents and other groups. The image strategies were similar across all contexts, contributing to political polarization and the targeting of possible scapegoats for violence. The study concludes that the use of humor and irony in political communication can trivialize violence and contribute to the dehumanization of political opponents.

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