Perceptions Matter

An Egyptians audience may have a controversial reaction to the video based on their perceptions of America. Some will perceive it as a funny joke but others, probably the majority, will perceive the humor as offensive.

Most probably, an Egyptian audience will immediately consider the target of the humor in the video as the protesters and the Egyptian people. The reason for this kind of perception is simple; it is the idea deposited in their minds that America controls the whole world with its policies. Consequently, when they watch that reporter asking ridiculous questions to the protesters like “Where should America send the prisoners to make sure that they will get tortured properly?” it seems as though he is making of them.

Egyptians may take this as very offensive questions revealing the “real image” of America.

When an Egyptian audience watches the video their perceptions of how Americans think of themselves when compared to the rest of the world may lead them to believe that Egyptians are being insulted.  The reporter’s annoying questions and his foolish facial expressions seem disrespectful of the protestors; however, the fact is that those stupid questions and those foolish expressions are funny and make him the real target of the joke.

Moreover, the people who felt offended by the video can be the same people who would laugh at it. To do this they would need to look at it from a different side. The reporter who seemed to insult them is really making fun of the conservative Americans who think this way.


This entry was posted in CCR exchange: Stanford-AUC, Spring 2011: Humor and Political Regimes. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Perceptions Matter

  1. Jordan Kozal says:

    Hey! This is Jordan K., Jordan G., and Harrison,. We are sophomores studying at Stanford University. Currently, we are in “What’s so funny? Humor, Race, Class, and Gender,” which is a program in writing and rhetoric class.

    I am Jordan K. I am a biology major and study art minor here at Stanford. I am 20 years old and currently live in Connecticut. I moved around a lot when I was younger. I was born in Nebraska, and then moved to California, Iowa, Texas, and Connecticut. I am an outgoing and fun loving person. I really enjoy all kinds of comedy, especially stand-up and improvised comedy. I also love the Daily Show, Colbert Report, and Saturday Night Live.

    Jordan G. is 19 and is a social psychology major. He is on the varsity wrestling team here at Stanford and has been wrestling since he was 5. He is from Vermont, a really tiny state (there are only 750,000 people total!). Jordan is an out going and sociable guy and really likes humor and comedy, specifically improvised comedy.

    Harrison is a health and development psychology major. He is from Southern California and really likes to swim at the beach when he can. His daily activities include working with children at preschools and volunteering at Stanford’s Free Clinics when he’s free. His favorite form of comedy is satire.

  2. Khalil Wilkes says:

    Hello friends, this is Khalil Wilkes and I am with Michael Spanos and Myles Muagututia. We are students of a Humor, Race, Class and Gender class at Stanford University. I (Khalil) am from New Jersey, while Myles and Michael are from California. We are all sophomores and play on the football team here at Stanford University. We have learned about your situation in Egypt and the revolution you guys are going through. However, we are very curious on your personal feelings toward Hosni Mubarak and how the protests have affected you. One thing that intrigued us about the situation is that when Mubarak stepped down he gave most if not all of the power to the military. We were wondering what you guys thought of this decision and how has it affected Egypt so far. When reading your blogs one that interested us specifically was the Perceptions Matter blog. This blog sparked our interests because we share similar thoughts about the comedic message being sent in the story. We also believe that when first watching the clip one can think that the Egyptians are the targets of the humor. However as you guys stated, this clip actually makes fun of American media and the way in which Americans have perceived the situation in Europe. One situation in the clip that makes fun of the American media is when the reporter asks the protester if America can pick the candidates for Egyptians. This shows the arrogance of American media, and shows that Americans always try to handle situations on their own terms.

  3. Burke Sims says:


    My name is Burke Sims. I’m a sophomore at Stanford and a member of the varsity swimming team. I am pursuing a degree in Economics and History. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois. The political unrest in Egypt has been all over the news in the U.S. and I am looking forward to getting your opinions on what is happening. Have you had any involvement with the protests? If you feel comfortable, I would love to hear about your own personal political views.

    I think your analysis of the Daily Show was spot on. While a careful analysis, good deal of background information on U.S. foreign policy, and an understanding of American humor would lead to the obvious conclusion that the piece was a satire of the U.S., it could easily be misconstrued. I’d be interested to know more about how Egyptians interpret our fake news shows (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Onion, Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update) and whether there are any Egyptian equivalents.

    Hi there,

    My name is Matt Thompson and I’m a sophomore at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. I’m a member of the Men’s Swimming Team here at Stanford and I am in this rhetoric class with five of my teammates, who I also live with. Our rhetoric class is called “What’s so funny? Humor, race, class, and gender” and is heavily based on public speaking this year. In the United States, and specifically at Stanford, we’ve heard a lot about the recent protests and political issues in Egypt. I for one am very curious about what your experience has been like in Cairo, dealing with the recent events while being a student at the American University in Cairo? Also, I was intrigued by the picture on your blog post that showed the protestor with the sign that said, “Mubarak #fail” How has humor like this played a role in the demonstrations?

    How’s it going? I’m Mack Montgomery, a sophomore at Stanford majoring in earth systems- (basically environmental economics and policy) and a swimmer for the university’s team, though I mainly just slack off and hang out with my friends. I’m from the great and sovereign state of South Carolina, which you may know as the first state to secede from the USA and form the Confederate States of America. Nothing else has changed there since, but I escaped the time warp from the 1860s and made it to California thanks to Dr. Emmet Brown’s time machine. I love the coast and the desert, so I’d love to someday travel to North Africa- I missed a chance a couple years ago to go to Sharm el-Sheik and cruise the Red Sea- but hopefully I can do that and stop in Dubai sometime.

    Hey, I’m Andrew and I’m a sophomore at Stanford University. I’m majoring in Science, Technology and Society with a minor in #winning. In my little spare time, amidst hours upon hours of coding in the computer lab, I sometimes find opportunities to come out and enjoy the beautiful California weather. When I do get out, I find it appealing to consume as much alcohol as I can without blacking out, although if I do blackout it’s all fun and games. I’m from Southern California, known throughout the world as the greatest place on the planet, and enjoy cheering on the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, who are wayyyyyy better than the loser Boston Celtics. I must also add that like the other members of my group, I am a swimmer for the university’s team. Due to several early morning workouts a week, I have developed raccoon rings around my eyes due to lack of sleep. Sometimes students shoo me away from trash cans and I can often be found prowling in trees in the wee hours of the morning.

  4. American University in Cairo says:

    I am Shady Samy; I am a freshman student at the American University in Cairo. I declared my major to be chemistry and want to minor physics. Next month I will complete 19. My favorite hobbies are reading, especially scientific books, and playing chess. Proudly, I am Egyptian who was very lucky to live the glory of our revolution. However, it is becoming very worrying where Egypt is going, or better say where people are taking Egypt to.
    First of all, I would like to briefly show the reasons for the revolution which would show my feelings towards Mr. Mubarak and his dictatorial regime. At the beginning, protesters were demanding their rights, the very basic human rights. We wanted to feel secure in our country and to have the freedom of expression. These very basic rights were not fulfilled in the presence of Mr. Habib Al-Adly the interior minister, this corrupted guy whose hands were covered with innocents blood. Thus, the people demanded his resignation, but the stubborn corrupted regime started using violence against the peaceful demonstrations. Live bullets caused many deaths among the protesters. Thus, the demands were raised to higher and higher levels concurrently with breaking our prisons of fear. To sum up, I am feeling very proud of the benefits of the revolution as I never liked any regime that represses its people and kills them.
    My reservations on the unstable situation in Egypt now lies in three things: Salafi groups, the Muslim brotherhood and a bad feeling of collusion from the military side. For the Salafi, they are Muslim extremists who want to rule with the Islamic law like in Afghanistan ignoring the presence of any other people from different religions like Christianity. This is not their only disadvantages, yet they have no problem in applying violence to reach their destination. For the Muslim brotherhood, the situation is a little bit different. When we read through the history of this group and read their leaders books and writings to know their ideology, we will be able to know that they are not innocent like their claims. They show things unlike what they hide. The Muslim brotherhood’s presence became very noticeable in recent days in the political life. They use religion to affect the minds and opinions of politically ignorant people. This shows in many situations and the most recent is the referendum on the constitutional amendments. The Salafi and Muslim brotherhood distributed substantial number of flyers and hanged many signs that encourage people to vote with “Yes” since this will bring victory to Islam as they told the poor people. They also spoke out in many mosques that people should vote “yes” on the amendments since whoever would chose “No” would be against “Sharia”. Thus, these people used the ignorance of poor people to achieve their own sake.
    Anyway, I feel very glad that I participated in this great public revolution. However, I wish these hard unstable days pass quickly and the pure patriotism youths who created the revolution will get over what is happening.

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