Cops, popes, and garbage collectors: metaphor and antagonism in an atheist/Christian YouTube video thread

Pihlaja, Stephen (2011). Cops, popes, and garbage collectors: metaphor and antagonism in an atheist/Christian YouTube video thread. Language@Internet, 8

URL: http://www.languageatinternet.de/articles/2011/pih...

Abstract

Using a discourse dynamics, metaphor-led analysis, this article investigates the use of metaphor in three YouTube videos made by two American YouTube users: one fundamentalist Christian and one atheist. The focus of the analysis is on how metaphor was produced dynamically in the interaction between the users as they discussed the appropriateness of user actions. Metaphorical language was of key importance to the discourse event, and was explicitly oriented to by the participants: The Christian user suggests an analogy between himself and a “cop,” the atheist retaliates that the Christian believes himself to be “the Pope of YouTube,” and the Christian resists this characterization, with other users leaving text comments that also directly respond to the “Pope of YouTube” metaphor. The analysis shows that YouTube users employed metaphors to describe and validate their activity on YouTube, and that although metaphor use did not differ depending on the user's ideological position, users reinterpreted and subverted the metaphor use of others to assert their own opinions about the community.

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