For decades, political activist groups have used humor for ridiculing their opponents and attracting media attention. This study analyzed the online presence of the Loldiers of Odin, a clown-disguised activist group created as a parody of the anti-immigration group Soldiers of Odin. By analyzing the rhetorical strategies of Loldiers’ performance, we show how absurd and naïve parody stunts were used to criticize anti-immigration street patrolling, distort radical right-wing discourses, and mobilize like-minded progressives. Furthermore, by analyzing Facebook commentary of the performance, we trace its communicative outcomes: support and legitimization, but also problematization and delegitimization. Our results highlight the unpredictable and ambivalent nature of humor in facilitating a political protest. We argue that while humor offers a compelling way for citizens to discursively engage with political issues such as the immigration question, the polysemic nature of parody paradoxically works to amplify and support existing polarized positions in online discussions.
- boundary work