CU Anthropologists: How Mocking Opponents Helped Propel Trump to the White House

Listen Now
Photo: Donald Trump shooting gesture during speech
Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Madison, Alabama on Feb. 28, 2016. The authors of a University of Colorado study say Trump often uses a "shooting" gesture to illustrate points in his speeches.

a campaign that was unconventional -- and not just in terms of what he said. A team of researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder say his style, from the jokes he made about other candidates to his hand gestures, was unusual, and was rooted in traditions of comedy and entertainment that date back hundreds of years. Different interpretations of his comedic style by voters on the Right and the Left help explain polarization over Trump's candidacy.

Kira Hall, Associate Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology at CU, co-authored the study and spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel. The paper, called "The Hands of Donald Trump: Entertainment, Gesture, Spectacle," was co-authored by Donna Goldstein, who also teaches anthropology at CU, and Matthew Ingram of the University of Texas.