There are many manipulative techniques in television that try to influence the perceptions and judgements of the audience. We are always very critical of these sorts of “tricks” by shows and commercials, particularly politically based television. Politicians and political organizations have developed a thorough set of techniques to penetrate all levels of mediated communication channels. They use negative attack ads, emotional appeals, whatever it takes to “sell” their message to the audience. Out of this system comes political culture jamming.
One of the best representations of political culture jamming is The Colbert Report. It takes the serious and unquestioned political broadcasts and parody’s them to counter the message bombardment. The Colbert Report, in particular, uses a humorous approach to show the irony and offenses of the dominant political media. In the show, Stephen Colbert speaks in ridiculous and factually incorrect ways in order to show the ridiculousness of the political media which often uses emotional appeals rather than rational appeals. In this article, Political Culture Jamming: The Dissident humor of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jamie Warner, a professor at Marshall University, discusses another popular example of humor in political culture jamming. After viewing media that uses the technique of political culture jamming, one begins to wonder how society is so easily moved by politicians’ manipulative techniques. One need not look very far for an answer.
In his article, Haha He Said Haha, Chuck Klosterman describes how “canned laughter is a lucid manifestation of an anxious culture that doesn’t know what is (and isn’t) funny.” Society has more than merely a need to be told what is funny. Society has also developed a need to be told what is serious, what is sad, what is ironic, and so forth. This is partly why political culture jamming is so effective. It shows society what lies behind the manipulative techniques of political media through a manipulative technique of it’s own.
It is important here to note that manipulative techniques are not always used negatively. In some ways they are necessary in order to keep the attention of a society already engrossed in media. We are moved by political culture jamming techniques, and because we are moved by them, we stop and begin to question the other political techniques that hold influence over our thoughts and actions. The greatest irony is the realization that only through manipulation in the media can we become acutely aware of all other forms of manipulation in the media.