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Hysterical: Comedy, Comebacks and #metoo


Hysterical: Comedy, Comebacks and #metoo

Long Decter, Una Rose (2023) Hysterical: Comedy, Comebacks and #metoo. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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“Louis C.K. Is Done,” declared critic Matt Zoller Seitz on November 9, 2017, the same day a New York Times investigation revealed that C.K. had masturbated in front of or on the phone with women in workplace contexts. Three months later, another auteur comedian, Aziz Ansari, faced accusations of pressuring an anonymous woman, Grace, into sexual acts. This thesis looks at the heated public response to both cases and how they came to symbolize aspects of #metoo, a feminist social movement targeting sexual violence that unfolded in the fall of 2017. The thesis conducts a discourse analysis of commentaries on C.K. and Ansari’s cases—when the allegations first became public and when the comedians later embarked on “comebacks”—in major media outlets as well as fringe feminist and right-wing publications in order to identify the ideological assumptions underpinning these responses. Through these responses, #metoo is constituted as a cultural clash wherein dominant norms of sexual violence as bounded and binary and comedy as a protected artistic sphere are challenged by counter-hegemonic feminist positions. At the same time, an anti-feminist backlash works to close down these challenges. The thesis situates this dialectical tension within the “warring, constantly moving contexts” of what Sarah Banet-Weiser calls popular feminism and popular misogyny (Empowered 13). Sexual violence, comedy, and #metoo become discursively linked as they are mobilized in relation to broader cultural contestations between feminism, misogyny, leftism, and anti-progressivism or “anti-wokeism.” Though the radical challenges of #metoo fade, their ripple effects continue.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Long Decter, Una Rose
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Media Studies
Date:13 February 2023
Thesis Supervisor(s):Acland, Charles
Keywords:#metoo, feminism, comedy, social movements, sexual violence
ID Code:991995
Deposited By: Una Rose Long Decter
Deposited On:21 Jun 2023 14:21
Last Modified:21 Jun 2023 14:21
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