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A Psychological Perspective on Vicarious Embarrassment and Shame in the Context of Cringe Humor

The Cringe and the Sneer: Structures of Feeling in Veep

American Studies Department, University of Leipzig, 04107 Leipzig, Germany
Humanities 2021, 10(4), 114;
Received: 17 August 2021 / Revised: 9 October 2021 / Accepted: 11 October 2021 / Published: 26 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Media and Politics in the Age of Cringe)
This article approaches cringe comedy through the lens of its affectivity, of the somatic experiences through which it puts its audiences’ bodies, and it uses this as a point of departure to think about the genre’s cultural work. Based on the observation that no cringe comedy makes its viewers cringe for the whole duration of its storytelling, the article suggests that cringe comedies thrive on destabilizing and ambiguating the affective valence of their performances of embarrassment, constantly recalibrating or muddying the distance between viewer and characters. They are marked by tipping points at which schadenfreude and other types of humor tip into cringe, and reversely, at which cringe tips into something else. The article focuses on one of these other affective responses, which it proposes to describe as the sneer. It uses the HBO-series Veep as a case study to explore how cringe and sneer aesthetics are interlaced in an exemplary comedy, and how they fuel this particular comedy’s satiric work. View Full-Text
Keywords: cringe comedy; affectivity; satire cringe comedy; affectivity; satire
MDPI and ACS Style

Kanzler, K. The Cringe and the Sneer: Structures of Feeling in Veep. Humanities 2021, 10, 114.

AMA Style

Kanzler K. The Cringe and the Sneer: Structures of Feeling in Veep. Humanities. 2021; 10(4):114.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kanzler, Katja. 2021. "The Cringe and the Sneer: Structures of Feeling in Veep" Humanities 10, no. 4: 114.

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