M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Communication
In the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, scholars and political pundits alike were left scrambling to understand what had occurred. While there is no single explanation for this unexpected turn of events, the present study argues that an overlooked and central aspect of Trump’s appeal was foreshadowed by the increased prominence of antihero protagonists in American media, particularly exemplified by the recent “Golden Age” of television wherein television series like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Dexter found critical and popular success by building compelling narratives around morally flawed characters. Trump certainly defied traditionally heroic notions of presidential character, instead opting to embrace an unfiltered and morally flawed persona not unlike those depicted on television. This study surveys extant literature on heroism and anti-heroism to construct a framework for understanding the fundamental elements of the antihero genre before applying it in a generic rhetorical criticism of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.
Bodell, Harry, "From Tony Soprano to Donald Trump: Situating the Rhetoric of the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign in the Antihero Genre" (2019). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 6872.
Northern Illinois University
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