Humor, ridicule, and the far right: mainstreaming exclusion through online animation

Jordan McSwiney, Kurt Sengul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


This paper critically examines the use of online humor and ridicule to promote and normalize far-right exclusionary discourses. Through a critical qualitative study of the Please Explain miniseries, a series of thirty-four short web cartoons produced by Australian far-right populist party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, we explore the strategic use of humor in the communicative arsenal of the contemporary far-right. Drawing on critical discourse analysis and thematic analysis, we examine how humor is used to soften articulations of exclusionary and supremacist ideas, including racism, misogyny, and queerphobia. Our findings suggest that the frivolity and irony of the online animated genre works to stretch the boundaries of the sayable, potentially making the content more palatable to non-far-right audiences. We argue that the strategic use of exclusionary humor forms part of a wider project of far-right discursive mainstreaming that simultaneously (re)legitimizes everyday expressions of exclusion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-333
Number of pages19
JournalTelevision and New Media
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • racism
  • humor
  • mainstreaming
  • far right
  • video
  • critical discourse analysis


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