USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘purple’
Humor

Purple Passion

Due to the length of this story, a transcript is not provided. Instead, the audio clip of the Purple Passion story is attached to the Folklore database article. (Link)

Context: This informant is a nineteen year old college student, attending school in the US, but originally from Singapore. This anti-joke was told to me by the informant in a college dorm room. The informant made sure to take long pauses and deliberately spoke in an awkward manner to further extend the length of the anti joke. This, in turn, made the lack of a punchline all the more frustrating.

Background: My informant heard this story from  one of his friends while sitting at a bar. He appreciates this story because of how elaborate it is. The story weaves an intricate web of events, all centered around the use of a single term – “Purple Passion”. His story, by its end, is nearly ten minutes, and yet, it has no punchline. Instead it ends abruptly and unsatisfyingly, and the reader reacts accordingly, with anger, surprise, and frustration.

Analysis: Purple Passion is an expertly built anti joke, that, when properly delivered, demonstrates the efficacy of such constructs. In wasting the time of its subject so expertly, the story actually has a greater chance of spreading itself. Since ones time is wasted, telling the story to another person might appear to “settle the score”, and thus leads to its continued retelling. I personally enjoyed the story to the end, as it’s structured in a very deliberate manner – it is constantly building up to an ending, before suddenly turning the boy, and, by extension, the listener, towards another false objective.

Folk Beliefs

White Chocolate Makes You Turn Purple

“If you eat white chocolate, you’ll turn purple.”

 

The informant was made aware of this belief when she was about seven years old. This was one of several stories she was told by her cousins, who were eight and 12 at the time of the telling. They had passed this on to the informant because they were vouching for it’s validity, and because it had become popular in their school.

At her cousins’ school, there was a stigma against white chocolate because select students had deemed it “gross” and admonished people for eating it by saying that only “gross” people would eat it. This small group—and later, the general populace—believed that white chocolate was not “real” chocolate. This forced the informant to abstain from eating chocolate out of fear of being punished for eating it (by being made purple). She eventually lost her taste for white chocolate over the period of time that she was afraid to eat it. This represents a way for a powerful minority group to assimilate the beliefs of the larger majority. Fear of ridicule, a powerful emotion for grade-school children, served as the driver for pushing the beliefs of those that took charge.

This saying is powerful in its ability to alter behaviors. In the hands of a few, this functioned almost as propaganda getting the masses on board with a belief they may have rejected without fear. Even for those who do not believe the warning, the shaming that it fosters can remain effective.

 

For a similar story about shaming and color changing, (and specifically, the color purple) see:

http://www.snopes.com/science/poolpiss.asp

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