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A new approach to studying religion and politics – MIT News

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Associate Professor Richard Nielsen is an MIT political scientist with an innovative research program: He studies clerics in the Islamic world, combining textual analysis, ethnographic insights, on-the-ground research in the Middle East, and a big-data approach to charting online tracts.

This method has generated novel conclusions about religious doctrine and authority — although Nielsen, who has graduate degrees in both government and statistics and does his primary research in Arabic, downplays his versatility.

“I basically tell people that I’m not the best in the world at any of the things I do,” Nielsen says. “It’s just that there’s a real dearth of people who are trying to do all of them.”

Nielsen’s first book, “Deadly Clerics: Blocked Ambition and the Paths to Jihad,” published in 2017, drew praise for both its insights and methods. After scrutinizing the online writings of about 200 radical clerics, Nielsen concluded that a substantial portion of these clerics had come from academic backgrounds, but found their career paths blocked. Disenchanted, many became jihadists, preaching war against their perceived enemies.

Nielsen’s follow-up book project, in progress now, looks at authority in the Islamic world, with an increasing focus on women who have become online preachers.

“Most people don’t think of Islam as having female preachers,” Nielsen says. However, he notes, “They’re helping this movement expand. These people help reach new audiences on the Internet. So the question is … how do women gain authority in these conservative religious spaces?”

As with his first book, this project combines a close study of society with large-scale analysis of textual trends. Nielsen has refined many of those analytical techniques over time, and has published numerous papers about data and research methods as well. 

“The ethnographic type of approach is not often combined with the statistical approach,” Nielsen observes. “My personal view is that’s where a lot of scientific discovery happens, from people who are willing to try multiple things.”

For his research and teaching, Nielsen was granted tenure at MIT in 2020.

No place like home

Long before he became a professor, Nielsen spent some quality time at MIT. Nielsen’s father received a PhD in chemistry from MIT and lived in campus graduate housing along with his young family.

“It’s really a homecoming for me to be here, because my earliest memories are of living in Eastgate and Westgate [apartment buildings] as a toddler,” Nielsen says. Another memory: “The MIT boathouse master taking my mom and me out in one of the motorboats, which I thought was an amazing thing. They let me hold the steering wheel, and that’s the first thing I think I remember.”

After MIT, the Nielsen family moved around a bit. They lived in upstate New York and eventually San Jose, California, where Nielsen attended high school and became an avid surfer, finding some overlooked breaks on the Northern California coast.

Nielsen attended college at Brigham Young University, and after watching the terrorist attacks of September 2001 unfold on television became interested in studying the politics of the Islamic world. That alone might not have led him into academia. But one summer, when Nielsen was working part-time as a campus security guard, a professor of his stopped by a campus event, saw Nielsen monitoring the door, and asked him, “Would you like another job?”

That professor — Daniel Nielson, an expert in international politics — had a National Science Foundation grant to study foreign aid; he encouraged Nielsen to jump into serious research. By the time Nielsen graduated from college, he had presented work at conferences and helped co-author a paper that would be published in the American Journal of Political Science.

“That was a huge break for me, and really when I cut my teeth on research,” Nielsen says. “He [Nielson] gave me and a couple other people really meaningful opportunities.”

That also helped Nielsen get accepted into Harvard University for graduate school. Nielsen received a master’s degree in statistics in 2010 and his PhD in government in 2013. He made two trips to Egypt during his dissertation research, starting by grasping the dynamics of a prominent teaching mosque.

“On the ground, watching students interact with their teachers is where I had the core insight of my first book, that these people, who I had thought were so different from me, were really just students and professors,” Nielsen says. “The story I was hearing about the folks who got more extreme in their beliefs was that they weren’t making the connections they needed to, so they got frustrated, [leading to] more extreme religious and political beliefs. I took that insight which I’d had qualitatively, back to this very large corpus of [textual] data, and could confirm that pattern was indeed happening.”

Nielsen joined the MIT faculty in 2013; his dissertation research became the basis of “Deadly Clerics.”

Riding the waves

At the Institute, Nielsen teaches a range of graduate and undergraduate classes, and describes his students as “the sharpest” people imaginable.

“I teach a fairly large undergraduate class on introduction to international relations,” Nielsen says, “and every time I get up at the beginning, I say, ‘All of you are smarter than me, I’ve just been doing this for longer.’ And every time, it’s true.”

While teaching, Nielsen is continuing with the second book project, which was also helped by a prestigious Carnegie Foundation fellowship in 2017. Nielsen’s new work took shape in part because he noticed that some online female preachers had larger audiences than their male counterparts; those female preachers, Nielsen says, generate “a lot of positive reactions and fairly minimal negative reactions.”

Nielsen adds that there clearly is “a broader segment of the Islamic world that is interested in women’s authority. And I think that is because people do things on the internet that they would feel awkward about if meeting in public. … Women are asserting their authority to speak to women’s experiences and more generally to a broad Islamic experience that commenters are not aware of. I’m not saying this a bastion of classic liberal feminism. It isn’t. But I do think there are the seeds of new perspectives happening in the preaching of these women.”

If that were not enough, Nielsen is also working on an additional project, about female white nationalists in the U.S., analyzing some 15,000 videos to better understand how and why women join the movement.

“I love working on multiple projects,” Nielsen says. “I think it’s a creative stew for myself. And I’m really glad MIT sees the promise in the whole stew.”

When Nielsen is not teaching, doing research, or at home with his family, he is likely doing one other thing: surfing. Having learned to surf in California, Nielsen still seeks out good waves in Massachusetts. To this day, Nielsen says, surfing clears his mind of everyday worries, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

“During the shutdown it was almost the only reason I was leaving the house,” Nielsen says, adding: “It’s been my sanity outlet all the way through grad school, and the tenure track. … It’s one time when my mind stops thinking about work.”

And when he’s back on land, Nielsen recognizes how well his distinctive brand of political science fits the interdisciplinary ethos of the Institute he again calls home.

“MIT is a special place to me and has given me opportunities I couldn’t have imagined almost anywhere else,” Nielsen says.

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Newfoundland ex-pat makes waves pairing politicians with their cartoon doubles – The Guardian

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An effort to shake off some homesickness led Adam DuBourdieu to mix pop culture and provincial politics — namely, taking politicians involved in this election and matching them with their visual counterparts on “The Simpsons.”

Originally from Kippens on the province’s west coast, DuBourdieu, 30, moved to Edmonton, Alta., just before the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

As with many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, he experienced homesickness in the months that followed the move.

A keen follower of local politics when living in the province, DuBourdieu set about combatting his traveller’s lament by having some fun with the upcoming provincial election.

Combining his love for “The Simpsons” and politics, he matched the politicians running in the election with the Simpsons character he saw as their cartoon counterparts.

“I always loved watching ‘The Simpsons,’” DuBourdieu. “I watched it with my dad.”

Some matchups were tough, while others were easy fits, such as the NDP’s Jim Dinn, a former schoolteacher, and his match with Principal Skinner.

“You can’t take yourself too seriously. Being a teacher, that’s par for the course,” Dinn said of that character match.

Dinn has seen the rather large social media thread containing the pictures.

He said that as a teacher, he learned long ago that you have to have a sense of humour, and it’s a lesson he’s taken with him to politics. Seeing the thread, he took it in good fun.

He said it could be worse. It could turn into a meme like a recent picture of United States Senator Bernie Sanders.

“Let’s have a laugh with it,” said Dinn. “It’s a good thing. It’s a bit of good fun.”


Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and Springfield nuclear plant owner Monty Burns were paired in DuBourdieu’s character breakdown. Photo courtesy Twitter
Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and Springfield nuclear plant owner Monty Burns were paired in DuBourdieu’s character breakdown. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


The result was a 47-part thread on Twitter filled with pictures of the politicians and their characters side by side. It is a mixture of retiring MHAs, incumbents and party leaders of all political stripes.

“The Simpsons” and politics have a bit of history. Across its 32 seasons, the show has mixed humour and politics.

The show seemingly predicted the start of the United States presidency of Donald J. Trump, and the Lisa Simpson presidency that followed him.

Coincidentally, Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans is paired with the presidential Lisa.

The relationship, however, between “The Simpsons” and the political arena doesn’t stop at a coincidental presidential prediction.

The show has often tackled topics of the day, such as same-sex marriage and gun control, and it has often been accused of having a liberal bias. Springfield’s Mayor Quimby is a regularly appearing character, and DuBourdieu saw him as a perfect match for Conception Bay East-Bell Island incumbent David Brazil.


NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter
NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter

Homer Simpson — coupled with Topsail-Paradise MHA Paul Dinn — once fought former U.S. president George H.W. Bush after the two became neighbours. Former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford have also made cameo appearances on the show.

DuBourdieu tabbed Ford as the right match with Mount Pearl North MHA Jim Lester.

“Politics has always been in ‘The Simpsons,’ and Newfoundland politics has some characters,” said DuBourdieu.

Harbour Grace-Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons knew at once who voiced Bart Simpsons’ former babysitter, Laura Powers.

“That’s the one where Darlene from Roseanne voiced the character. Sara Gilbert,” she said.

Like other children of the ’80s and early ’90s, Parsons grew up in the early years of “The Simpsons.” She saw the show move from animated shorts on “The Tracy Ullman Show” to a pop culture phenomenon on Fox.

“Growing up as a child, I certainly watched ‘The Simpsons.’ I loved Bart Simpson. I think we all did,” said Parsons. “I even had the little toys that McDonald’s was putting out.”


Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter
Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


Parsons is one of 10 women featured in the long Twitter thread. Of the 10, nine are incumbent MHAs and their animated doppelgangers. The remaining one is Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote.

She was paired with Springfield Elementary second-grade teacher Mrs. Hoover.

“I like that (Dubourdieu) was non-partisan,” said Parsons, who appreciated the comedic break it offered. “I got a good chuckle out of it.”

The response to the sizeable thread has been favourable online.

It was something that surprised DuBourdieu at first.

Since it went online, there have been dozens of interactions between politicians and the public. People have marvelled at how perfect some of the comparisons are, such as independent MHA Eddie Joyce being matched with oil tycoon Rich Texan.

“It is something people are familiar with,” DuBourdieu said about why he chose to use “The Simpsons” as a reference point.

Liberal candidate George Murphy tweeted that he thought of himself as the lovable barfly Barney Gumble instead of Police Chief Wiggum, the character he is attached to.

Other candidates, such as Progressive Conservative candidate Kristina Ennis and the NDP’s Jenn Deon, have expressed interest in being connected to their Simpsons doubles.

Lake Melville NDP candidate Amy Hogan even went ahead and did her own. It was Jerri Mackleberry, the mother of notable twins Sherri and Terri.

“I think I’m probably the twins, Sherri and Terri’s mom, Jerri. It’s is the purple hair and the glasses,” Hogan tweeted.


Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter
Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


DuBourdieu pledged to do a third part of the thread if there is enough interest.

In the days since it was posted, a link to the thread made its way around the Progressive Conservative email chain.

“We got a good kick out of it,” said Conservative MHA Barry Petten. “You can’t help but laugh.”

The Conception Bay South representative readily admitted he wasn’t much of a Simpsons watcher and had little background on Superintendent Chalmers or why he was paired with him.

Still, Petten said he appreciated the work and the humour it brought to the election.

“It’s all good humour,” he said.

Looking back on the process and the result of his humourous entry into the Newfoundland and Labrador political scene, DuBourdieu has no regrets about piecing everything together.

Some comparisons were easy, while others required a bit more thought, he said, and he learned a little along the way, namely, how male-dominated this province’s legislature is.

As the province rolls toward the election on Feb. 13, DuBourdieu will watch from his home in Alberta.

In the meantime, he is glad he got to contribute to the run-up in some way.

“I’m glad I did it and I hope people get a good chuckle out of it,” said DuBourdieu.

Nicholas Mercer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering central Newfoundland for SaltWire Network.

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Newfoundland ex-pat makes waves pairing politicians with their cartoon doubles – The Journal Pioneer

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An effort to shake off some homesickness led Adam DuBourdieu to mix pop culture and provincial politics — namely, taking politicians involved in this election and matching them with their visual counterparts on “The Simpsons.”

Originally from Kippens on the province’s west coast, DuBourdieu, 30, moved to Edmonton, Alta., just before the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

As with many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, he experienced homesickness in the months that followed the move.

A keen follower of local politics when living in the province, DuBourdieu set about combatting his traveller’s lament by having some fun with the upcoming provincial election.

Combining his love for “The Simpsons” and politics, he matched the politicians running in the election with the Simpsons character he saw as their cartoon counterparts.

“I always loved watching ‘The Simpsons,’” DuBourdieu. “I watched it with my dad.”

Some matchups were tough, while others were easy fits, such as the NDP’s Jim Dinn, a former schoolteacher, and his match with Principal Skinner.

“You can’t take yourself too seriously. Being a teacher, that’s par for the course,” Dinn said of that character match.

Dinn has seen the rather large social media thread containing the pictures.

He said that as a teacher, he learned long ago that you have to have a sense of humour, and it’s a lesson he’s taken with him to politics. Seeing the thread, he took it in good fun.

He said it could be worse. It could turn into a meme like a recent picture of United States Senator Bernie Sanders.

“Let’s have a laugh with it,” said Dinn. “It’s a good thing. It’s a bit of good fun.”


Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and Springfield nuclear plant owner Monty Burns were paired in DuBourdieu’s character breakdown. Photo courtesy Twitter
Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and Springfield nuclear plant owner Monty Burns were paired in DuBourdieu’s character breakdown. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


The result was a 47-part thread on Twitter filled with pictures of the politicians and their characters side by side. It is a mixture of retiring MHAs, incumbents and party leaders of all political stripes.

“The Simpsons” and politics have a bit of history. Across its 32 seasons, the show has mixed humour and politics.

The show seemingly predicted the start of the United States presidency of Donald J. Trump, and the Lisa Simpson presidency that followed him.

Coincidentally, Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans is paired with the presidential Lisa.

The relationship, however, between “The Simpsons” and the political arena doesn’t stop at a coincidental presidential prediction.

The show has often tackled topics of the day, such as same-sex marriage and gun control, and it has often been accused of having a liberal bias. Springfield’s Mayor Quimby is a regularly appearing character, and DuBourdieu saw him as a perfect match for Conception Bay East-Bell Island incumbent David Brazil.


NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter
NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter

Homer Simpson — coupled with Topsail-Paradise MHA Paul Dinn — once fought former U.S. president George H.W. Bush after the two became neighbours. Former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford have also made cameo appearances on the show.

DuBourdieu tabbed Ford as the right match with Mount Pearl North MHA Jim Lester.

“Politics has always been in ‘The Simpsons,’ and Newfoundland politics has some characters,” said DuBourdieu.

Harbour Grace-Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons knew at once who voiced Bart Simpsons’ former babysitter, Laura Powers.

“That’s the one where Darlene from Roseanne voiced the character. Sara Gilbert,” she said.

Like other children of the ’80s and early ’90s, Parsons grew up in the early years of “The Simpsons.” She saw the show move from animated shorts on “The Tracy Ullman Show” to a pop culture phenomenon on Fox.

“Growing up as a child, I certainly watched ‘The Simpsons.’ I loved Bart Simpson. I think we all did,” said Parsons. “I even had the little toys that McDonald’s was putting out.”


Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter
Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


Parsons is one of 10 women featured in the long Twitter thread. Of the 10, nine are incumbent MHAs and their animated doppelgangers. The remaining one is Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote.

She was paired with Springfield Elementary second-grade teacher Mrs. Hoover.

“I like that (Dubourdieu) was non-partisan,” said Parsons, who appreciated the comedic break it offered. “I got a good chuckle out of it.”

The response to the sizeable thread has been favourable online.

It was something that surprised DuBourdieu at first.

Since it went online, there have been dozens of interactions between politicians and the public. People have marvelled at how perfect some of the comparisons are, such as independent MHA Eddie Joyce being matched with oil tycoon Rich Texan.

“It is something people are familiar with,” DuBourdieu said about why he chose to use “The Simpsons” as a reference point.

Liberal candidate George Murphy tweeted that he thought of himself as the lovable barfly Barney Gumble instead of Police Chief Wiggum, the character he is attached to.

Other candidates, such as Progressive Conservative candidate Kristina Ennis and the NDP’s Jenn Deon, have expressed interest in being connected to their Simpsons doubles.

Lake Melville NDP candidate Amy Hogan even went ahead and did her own. It was Jerri Mackleberry, the mother of notable twins Sherri and Terri.

“I think I’m probably the twins, Sherri and Terri’s mom, Jerri. It’s is the purple hair and the glasses,” Hogan tweeted.


Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter
Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


DuBourdieu pledged to do a third part of the thread if there is enough interest.

In the days since it was posted, a link to the thread made its way around the Progressive Conservative email chain.

“We got a good kick out of it,” said Conservative MHA Barry Petten. “You can’t help but laugh.”

The Conception Bay South representative readily admitted he wasn’t much of a Simpsons watcher and had little background on Superintendent Chalmers or why he was paired with him.

Still, Petten said he appreciated the work and the humour it brought to the election.

“It’s all good humour,” he said.

Looking back on the process and the result of his humourous entry into the Newfoundland and Labrador political scene, DuBourdieu has no regrets about piecing everything together.

Some comparisons were easy, while others required a bit more thought, he said, and he learned a little along the way, namely, how male-dominated this province’s legislature is.

As the province rolls toward the election on Feb. 13, DuBourdieu will watch from his home in Alberta.

In the meantime, he is glad he got to contribute to the run-up in some way.

“I’m glad I did it and I hope people get a good chuckle out of it,” said DuBourdieu.

Nicholas Mercer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering central Newfoundland for SaltWire Network.

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Newfoundland ex-pat makes waves pairing politicians with their cartoon doubles – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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An effort to shake off some homesickness led Adam DuBourdieu to mix pop culture and provincial politics — namely, taking politicians involved in this election and matching them with their visual counterparts on “The Simpsons.”

Originally from Kippens on the province’s west coast, DuBourdieu, 30, moved to Edmonton, Alta., just before the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

As with many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, he experienced homesickness in the months that followed the move.

A keen follower of local politics when living in the province, DuBourdieu set about combatting his traveller’s lament by having some fun with the upcoming provincial election.

Combining his love for “The Simpsons” and politics, he matched the politicians running in the election with the Simpsons character he saw as their cartoon counterparts.

“I always loved watching ‘The Simpsons,’” DuBourdieu. “I watched it with my dad.”

Some matchups were tough, while others were easy fits, such as the NDP’s Jim Dinn, a former schoolteacher, and his match with Principal Skinner.

“You can’t take yourself too seriously. Being a teacher, that’s par for the course,” Dinn said of that character match.

Dinn has seen the rather large social media thread containing the pictures.

He said that as a teacher, he learned long ago that you have to have a sense of humour, and it’s a lesson he’s taken with him to politics. Seeing the thread, he took it in good fun.

He said it could be worse. It could turn into a meme like a recent picture of United States Senator Bernie Sanders.

“Let’s have a laugh with it,” said Dinn. “It’s a good thing. It’s a bit of good fun.”


Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and Springfield nuclear plant owner Monty Burns were paired in DuBourdieu’s character breakdown. Photo courtesy Twitter
Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and Springfield nuclear plant owner Monty Burns were paired in DuBourdieu’s character breakdown. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


The result was a 47-part thread on Twitter filled with pictures of the politicians and their characters side by side. It is a mixture of retiring MHAs, incumbents and party leaders of all political stripes.

“The Simpsons” and politics have a bit of history. Across its 32 seasons, the show has mixed humour and politics.

The show seemingly predicted the start of the United States presidency of Donald J. Trump, and the Lisa Simpson presidency that followed him.

Coincidentally, Torngat Mountains MHA Lela Evans is paired with the presidential Lisa.

The relationship, however, between “The Simpsons” and the political arena doesn’t stop at a coincidental presidential prediction.

The show has often tackled topics of the day, such as same-sex marriage and gun control, and it has often been accused of having a liberal bias. Springfield’s Mayor Quimby is a regularly appearing character, and DuBourdieu saw him as a perfect match for Conception Bay East-Bell Island incumbent David Brazil.


NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter
NDP Leader Alison Coffin and Bette Midler were paired together during the exercise. Midler made a cameo on the show in Season 4. Photo courtesy Twitter

Homer Simpson — coupled with Topsail-Paradise MHA Paul Dinn — once fought former U.S. president George H.W. Bush after the two became neighbours. Former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford have also made cameo appearances on the show.

DuBourdieu tabbed Ford as the right match with Mount Pearl North MHA Jim Lester.

“Politics has always been in ‘The Simpsons,’ and Newfoundland politics has some characters,” said DuBourdieu.

Harbour Grace-Port de Grave MHA Pam Parsons knew at once who voiced Bart Simpsons’ former babysitter, Laura Powers.

“That’s the one where Darlene from Roseanne voiced the character. Sara Gilbert,” she said.

Like other children of the ’80s and early ’90s, Parsons grew up in the early years of “The Simpsons.” She saw the show move from animated shorts on “The Tracy Ullman Show” to a pop culture phenomenon on Fox.

“Growing up as a child, I certainly watched ‘The Simpsons.’ I loved Bart Simpson. I think we all did,” said Parsons. “I even had the little toys that McDonald’s was putting out.”


Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter
Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote found her Simpsons doppelganger in Mrs. Hoover. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


Parsons is one of 10 women featured in the long Twitter thread. Of the 10, nine are incumbent MHAs and their animated doppelgangers. The remaining one is Newfoundland and Labrador Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote.

She was paired with Springfield Elementary second-grade teacher Mrs. Hoover.

“I like that (Dubourdieu) was non-partisan,” said Parsons, who appreciated the comedic break it offered. “I got a good chuckle out of it.”

The response to the sizeable thread has been favourable online.

It was something that surprised DuBourdieu at first.

Since it went online, there have been dozens of interactions between politicians and the public. People have marvelled at how perfect some of the comparisons are, such as independent MHA Eddie Joyce being matched with oil tycoon Rich Texan.

“It is something people are familiar with,” DuBourdieu said about why he chose to use “The Simpsons” as a reference point.

Liberal candidate George Murphy tweeted that he thought of himself as the lovable barfly Barney Gumble instead of Police Chief Wiggum, the character he is attached to.

Other candidates, such as Progressive Conservative candidate Kristina Ennis and the NDP’s Jenn Deon, have expressed interest in being connected to their Simpsons doubles.

Lake Melville NDP candidate Amy Hogan even went ahead and did her own. It was Jerri Mackleberry, the mother of notable twins Sherri and Terri.

“I think I’m probably the twins, Sherri and Terri’s mom, Jerri. It’s is the purple hair and the glasses,” Hogan tweeted.


Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter
Monorail salesman Lyle Lanley made the perfect visual double for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey. Photo courtesy Twitter

 


DuBourdieu pledged to do a third part of the thread if there is enough interest.

In the days since it was posted, a link to the thread made its way around the Progressive Conservative email chain.

“We got a good kick out of it,” said Conservative MHA Barry Petten. “You can’t help but laugh.”

The Conception Bay South representative readily admitted he wasn’t much of a Simpsons watcher and had little background on Superintendent Chalmers or why he was paired with him.

Still, Petten said he appreciated the work and the humour it brought to the election.

“It’s all good humour,” he said.

Looking back on the process and the result of his humourous entry into the Newfoundland and Labrador political scene, DuBourdieu has no regrets about piecing everything together.

Some comparisons were easy, while others required a bit more thought, he said, and he learned a little along the way, namely, how male-dominated this province’s legislature is.

As the province rolls toward the election on Feb. 13, DuBourdieu will watch from his home in Alberta.

In the meantime, he is glad he got to contribute to the run-up in some way.

“I’m glad I did it and I hope people get a good chuckle out of it,” said DuBourdieu.

Nicholas Mercer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering central Newfoundland for SaltWire Network.

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