Political memes… even if you were to go above and beyond attempting to avoid everything and anything to do with politics, these pesky little things that litter the Internet will find you and force comedic political information on you. Memes have created a new platform that allows the public to share their political beliefs and opinions. This new era of freedom of speech has lead to political figures falling victim to the almighty meme.
Has our unhealthy obsession with memes actually effected the US presidential election? It seems that they aren’t just funny tad bits that make us LOL, and are in fact much more powerful, having a direct effect on the US election. This 2016 election season has seen memes seriously shape candidates branding and popularity.
Memes are more than just funny images or hash tags, they have a serious influence on todays millennials. Researchist Kim explains how ‘The Election memes tend to have a lot more leeway in terms of what can be said and what cannot about the candidates, whereas the scope of coverage in the news media can be limited within the ethical boundaries of political journalism.’ This freedom given to memes allows them to represent a democratic America.
This has completely changed the relationship between the public and the candidates. During Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday the 20th there was an immense backlash in memes. Historically this would have been a treasonable offence – with many joking about his death. Emphasising the power of the meme, acting as a catalyst for freedom of speech, so strong it cannot be contained.
Trump stimulated a never ending stream of hilarious memes after bragging that he had ‘built an empire’ and amassed a fortune of 3.7 Billion dollars from a humbling:
Memes unmasked Ted Cruz as not only the notorious Zodiac killer but also Kevin from The Office.
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were mocked in a series of fake campaign memes showcasing their differing opinions on hilarious issues.
An army of photo shoppers destroyed Jeb Bush’s Twitter Logo ‘Jeb!’ with countless memes mimicking the campaign as an ABC family sitcom.
Donald Trump was defiantly the king of memes during this election, and still is. The viral memes of Trump that constantly harassed everyone’s social media news feeds during the election period mimicked his outrageous acts and statements. He was presented as a sexist, crude, shifty man by the public – however he still won the election and is now America’s President – a scary thought. So it is interesting, yes although our new way of expressing opinion through memes has casted him as this villain by highlighting how hideous he really is, yet the majority of US citizens still voted for him. Making me wonder, because memes are so silly and hilarious are the important messages being them not taken seriously enough and does this mean that memes actually have little power?
Although, it is obvious that the power of the meme was in some ways a MAJOR influential in the US 2016 presidential election. This was the first election in which candidates actively pursued memes for tactful campaign promotion. Memes could provide a simple viral way for electoral candidates to reach the majority of online users. As memes represent opinions and common cultural beliefs, when candidates create them unbeknownst to the public, it means that the view shared in the memes are accepted as is is believed that it was ‘one of them’ that created it, and do not feel manipulated.
Hillary Clinton took advantage of this with her ‘Queen of Memes’ spoof ad, created by Super Deluxe who used a Hillary look a like, the funny and extremely cringeworthy video went viral, reaching 5.4 million views.
From a brief overlook it seems that this video had no direct links to her campaign but after a bit of snooping I discovered that she had actually paid for it.
Overall our obsession with memes both have and haven’t been incredibly instrumental in the 2016 president election. They have let the public see a more clear, truthful image of politicians and has revolutionised our once repressed freedom of speech, making it acceptable to openly share our own political opinions. Memes have made the election much more light hearted and comedic, criticising and poking fun at electoral candidates. They are obviously very successful at spreading information virally across the social network for candidates to invest in them as a marketing strategy. However can memes be seen as meaningless funny opinions and jokes? The vast amount of anti-Trump memes clearly out weighed any others during the election – yet he still won.
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