Political Gags

Political Gags

The sign maker, Peter Brookes, has created a political gag depicting ‘A Brexit Production’ of La La Land concerning Theresa May and Boris Johnson. Instantly, the reader must activate their schema and the knowledge they have in regard to the film La La Land, and the current Brexit politics.

In order for a metaphor to be successful the audience needs to ‘understand[…] and experience[…] one kind of thing in terms of another’ (Lakoff and Johnson 1980:5). The primary metaphor that is being portrayed here is that the two politicians are ‘skating on thin ice’ (in terms of Brexit negotiations). The ice underneath their feet is already cracking which is implying that they are already failing. Lakoff and Johnson coined the term CMT or ‘conceptual metaphor’, and my reading of this gag is that the CM is that ‘Brexit is on thin ice’. However, other interpretations could also be made. As well as this, my interpretation of this gag was that the scene in which they are depicting from La La Land is the famous tap dance scene. Tap dancing on thin ice would be extremely irresponsible and would obviously cause the ice to break. So maybe this is a metaphor for the irresponsible handling of the Brexit negotiations. The several different metaphors are arguably competing for the attention of the audience. Jones and Hafner suggests that the ‘ability to manage and distribute attention across a range of competing activities is increasingly important in the digital age’ (83), this allows for various different messages to be portrayed in a single political gag.

The over-exaggerated drawing style adds the to comical effect of the political gag e.g. the unbuttoned shirt accompanied by the over sized stomach, and the large facial features. The use of primary colours between the politicians (yellow, red and blue) directs our gaze immediately towards them and intensifies the message.

In a polyfocal world, it is harder to gain a consistent audience. Being controversial would ensure a larger attention economy. This gag in particular would be considered controversial as it is criticizing two major (arguable) figures within the Brexit politics. As well as this, it is completely original. It has used two ideas that are identifiable for almost everyone and created something unique with multiple important messages. ‘This new economy is based on endless originality, or at least attempts at originality’ (Goldhaber 1997)


Goldhaber, M. (1997) The Attention Economy and the Net. 2: 4-7

Jones & Hafner (2012) Understanding Digital Literacy. 82-85

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. University of Chicago.

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