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Media Studies Professor: Satire Can Play Role Against White Supremacists

Groups like the KKK and names like David Duke are in the headlines again. After the violence in Charlottesville shocked the nation — and as there are continued threats of white supremacist rallies to be held around the country — many are wondering how to respond to this new rise in far-right fanaticism.

Well one professor says the answer is simple: Laughter. So, what’s the idea here — how can we laugh off something so serious?  

This isn’t about ignoring the problem. Instead, it’s about the power of satire. Penn State media studies professor Kevin Hagopian says all we need to do today is look to a great American icon of comedy, Charlie Chaplin, and a film he made as Hitler and the Nazis were on the rise in Europe, called The Great Dictator. 

The film skewers Hitler and calls into question the cult of personality that was being built around him in the 1930s.

I spoke with Hagopian more about the film and the ways in which satire can play a role again — today.

Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.