Feminist reclaiming of the popular: How to cut across hegemonic binaries in comparative analysis?
Subject: feminist reclaiming
The present paper is a contribution to feminist research in cultural studies that contests the allegedly incompatible relationship between entertainment and state politics, challenging the unproductive denunciation of the coupling of politics with popular culture. My argument is based on the comparative analysis of two recent examples of the political media’s attempts at gate-keeping intended to discredit woman politicians in Hungary and the US, trying to ‘put them in their place’. The two cases are the coalition building by the so-called white-capped woman MPs representing all opposition parties in parliament against the ‘slave law’ in Hungary and the response to the six presidential candidates of the Democrats for the 2020 US elections. I will conceptualize the two allegedly distinct fields of politics and popular culture as intersecting by pointing out a shared logic of spectacular communication at work in both as defined by Guy Debord (2006). In terms of methodology, I will argue that a comparative analysis in search of an overlap both between popular culture and elite politics and between the two societies entails a dialectical, dynamic approach to comparison. A comparative study is inherently multi-directional and cannot fix one of the social fields or societies as ‘the’ point of departure for the analysis. That fixation would make the selected element function into the ‘obvious’ measure, inevitably othering the one compared to it. A dynamic, multi-directional approach to comparison can be best accounted for as a relationship of intersectionality enmeshed in diverse global cycles of communication.