We analyze whether humor can release some of the tension in Islam controversies and open up new directions for dialogue. We do so in the context of Dahlgren's civic cultures framework, asking whether humor can be a civic practice and how it is articulated with value conflicts. We examine the features of the humor performed in two comic vlogs on YouTube and the sentiments these vlogs evoked among their viewers. In one vlog, the comedy calls for interreligious acceptance, while in the other vlog comedy is used to "other" Muslims. The comments on both vlogs, however, comprise negative and positive sentiment in the same patterns, often expressed in an antagonistic style. These findings call for caution when contemplating the potential of humor to alleviate interreligious tensions and the prospect of the Internet to form a space for meaningful democratic deliberation, especially when dealing with topics as controversial as Islam.

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doi.org/10.1177/1527476412453948, hdl.handle.net/1765/68679
Television and New Media
Department of Sociology

Hirzalla, F, van Zoonen, E.A, & Muller, F.A. (2013). How funny can Islam controversies be? Comedians defending their faiths on YouTube. Television and New Media, 14(1), 46–61. doi:10.1177/1527476412453948