From Russia with Lols: Humour, RT, and the Legitimation of Russian Foreign Policy

Crilley, Rhys and Chatterje-Doody, Precious (2020). From Russia with Lols: Humour, RT, and the Legitimation of Russian Foreign Policy. Global Society (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13600826.2020.1839387

Abstract

The Russian state-funded international broadcaster RT is often accused of pedalling misinformation and claiming legitimacy for nefarious Russian activities. Whilst studies have so far analysed the content of RT's media reports, they have yet to interrogate how Russian legitimation claims are often expressed on RT through a blurring of news reporting and comedy. This paper addresses this gap and places humour at the centre of analysis, arguing that comedy and satire are fundamental to how RT claims legitimacy for Russian foreign policy. We begin by introducing theories of legitimation to studies of comedy in global politics, before then examining RT's social media outputs and audience responses to those. In doing so, we demonstrate that humour is central to how RT claims legitimacy for Russian foreign policy. From military intervention in Syria, to the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury, humour shapes how RT's legitimation claims are interpreted by their audiences.

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