Sunday, April 24, 2016


Octaviano Ramirez

Laughtivism is the strategic use of humor and mocking by social nonvielent movements in order to undermine the authority of an opponent (Garland, 2013).  This tactic which is used to build credibility and break the fear of a certain person or institution was first made popular by the organization Otpor which has overthrown several dictatorships in the past 2 decades (Novovic, 2014).  The reason this strategy works is because it uses humor to put the "big picture" in a different perspective and show the people that whatever power that is oppressing them is not as all-mighty as they may believe.  This concept of laughtivism seems so revolutionary, pun intended, because historically revolutions have been by way of violence which has always been thought to be the golden rule, and all of a sudden you have a dictator being overthrown because he did not know how to handle himself when being the target of several jokes instead of rifle cross-hairs (Popovic, 2015).

The movie that I think that capitalizes on this concept is Mean Girls.  I see this happen because it is the story of 3 "mean girls" who terrorize a high school till one outsider destroys their little reign.  Where I see the connection is that the new girl did not use violence to win this battle.  She used humor to discredit the bullies and show the rest of the school they did not have to put up with their shenanigans.

With this information in hand, I decided to head over to the Quad and interview a few cadets about their thoughts on laughtivism, because the same way the Corps is filled with exemplary leaders, it also has a few bad apples.  The first cadet that was interviewed was asked how he could see signs of laughtivism happening in the Corps and his response was the following.

While we aren't necessarily trying to overthrow the system, you will run into a bad leader here and there, and now that you briefly explained what laughtivism is, it sort of makes sense.  You can make fun of a good cadet and they will shrug it off or play along and make fun of themselves further, but the minute you make fun of a bad cadet they will immediately try and find a way to discipline you or work the system against you.  I can definitely see how if a group large enough gets behind this, how even whole governments can be overthrown.

The comments of the second cadet where similar just worded differently.

I can see the difference in strategy here and in my head I can picture why it works, it goes back to the whole "hearts and minds deal".  If you violently remove someone from power, then you are no different then they are, at least that will be the perception the public will have of you.  But if you use a different angle of attack, such as humor, it is a win win because they really have no form of retaliating without looking like jackasses.
I told the second cadet he should've taught this lesson, for those were the words Dr. Tarvin used, or at least pretty darn close to them.

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