The Last Laugh: Folk Humor, Celebrity Culture, and Mass-Mediated Disasters in the Digital Age (Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World) Paperback – August 26, 2013
by Trevor J. Blank (Author)
Widely publicized in mass media worldwide, high-profile tragedies and celebrity scandals—the untimely deaths of Michael Jackson and Princess Diana, the embarrassing affairs of Tiger Woods and President Clinton, the 9/11 attacks or the Challenger space shuttle explosion—often provoke nervous laughter and black humor. If in the past this snarky folklore may have been shared among friends and uttered behind closed doors, today the Internet’s ubiquity and instant interactivity propels such humor across a much more extensive and digitally mediated discursive space. New media not only let more people “in on the joke,” but they have also become the “go-to” formats for engaging in symbolic interaction, especially in times of anxiety or emotional suppression, by providing users an expansive forum for humorous, combative, or intellectual communication, including jokes that cross the line of propriety and good taste.
Moving through engaging case studies of Internet-derived humor about momentous disasters in recent American popular culture and history, The Last Laugh chronicles how and why new media have become a predominant means of vernacular expression. Trevor J. Blank argues that computer-mediated communication has helped to compensate for users’ sense of physical detachment in the “real” world, while generating newly meaningful and dynamic opportunities for the creation and dissemination of folklore. Drawing together recent developments in new media studies with the analytical tools of folklore studies, he makes a strong case for the significance to contemporary folklore of technologically driven trends in folk and mass culture.
“An unassuming gem of a book. Blank’s largely informal and open writing style make it an absorbing and accessible read whilst also providing a range of captivating insights and pertinent case studies. He is eloquent in demonstrating the role of digital media in everyday life and how ‘folk’ connect with each other through humour in the midst of tragedy and anxiety.” ~ Information, Communication, & Society
“A model of meticulous scholarship and a highly recommended contribution.” ~ Internet Bookwatch
“The Last Laugh provides a useful map for a changing landscape.” ~ Times-Literary Supplement (UK)
“The Last Laugh is required reading for anyone interested in the many roles digital media now play in our everyday lives.”—Robert Glenn Howard, author of Digital Jesus: The Making of a New Christian Fundamentalist Community on the Internet
About the Author
Trevor J. Blank is assistant professor of communication at the State University of New York at Potsdam. He is editor of the e-journal New Directions in Folklore and of the books Folklore and the Internet: Vernacular Expression in a Digital World and Folk Culture in the Digital Age: The Emergent Dynamics of Human Interaction.
Trevor J. Blank, Ph.D., is a folklorist and assistant professor of communication at the State University of New York at Potsdam. Currently, he serves as editor to the open access journal New Directions in Folklore. He lives in upstate New York with his wife, Angelina, and their beagle, Penny.
Series: Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World
Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1st edition (August 26, 2013)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces