The Left are notorious for being unable to get a good meme going. Enter Dark Brandon
In the past several years, it has often been said that the American political left, for all its online prowess, cannot ‘meme’. They just don’t seem to be able to get a good viral meme going. No one is expecting politicians to start a new meme format, that’s a big job but they can even use existing formats. Simply, the Left just can’t keep up. It’s a meme gap.
Memes, as digital petroglyphs, use popular culture references and limited text to convey emotion through strange visuals and clipped statements. Much of online discourse takes place in memes, and let’s face it, visuals are easier to comprehend for the average person than words and they can illicit an immediate response of joy, anger, or even anxiety. It isn’t a wonder that they thrive on social media. So, how did the Left steal one of the Right’s better memes?
But now, it looks like the Left doesn’t need to meme. Instead, they can simply steal the existing memes from the Right and completely change their meaning and repurpose them for their own use.
The Dark Brandon meme is a portmanteau of a few things. Firstly, it’s a reference to the Dark Knight rises batman film. Secondly, it is a reference to Biden being derisively called ‘Brandon’ after a cheering mixup at a NASCAR race in 2021. Instead of hearing “Fuck Joe Biden” the sportscasters thought the crowd was cheering on a winning driver. Let’s Go Brandon was born. Lastly, the imagery is supposed to evoke a certain evil feeling.
The Left has taken the last bit out of the meme and has started using it as a way to promote, rather than denigrate, President Biden. While still evoking the darkness and sense of evil, they have turned it around so the evildoers are Trump supporters and Biden is coming for them. He is using the powers of darkness to rid the country of pests and ne’er do wells.
Most of the criticism of President Biden has had little to do with his policies and far more to do with his stutter, his son’s wild lifestyle, and his supposed crimes that mysteriously have little evidence. You’ll often see the phrase, “Biden Crime Family” too. In modern discourse, there is no need to have any actual ideas, just memes and that is what makes the theft of Dark Brandon so sweet.
Dark White House
The White House, in President Biden’s recent national address (which was ignored by the major networks), seemed to play into the Dark Brandon theme with their choice of lighting (green and red set against Independence Hall at night) and the scene of President Biden standing at the presidential podium flanked by marines at parade rest. The speech was a full-throated defence of democracy, rule of law, and the American way. Only if someone believed in the personal cult of Trump would they see it as anything other than unabashedly American. Throughout the speech, there were shades of Roosevelt, Kennedy, Obama and even Bill Clinton. As presidential speeches go, it was top drawer. It was what one would expect from the American president.
The most entertaining part is that the Right was really enjoying not using Biden’s real name and calling him Brandon reinforced the solid “not my president” vibes that they were going for and the fact that the whole trend started off with a protest at a NASCAR race makes it even more entertaining. Rather than trying to counter the trend, the Left adopted it and made it their own as if to take power from the Right.
Ballots and Memes
Will this matter at the ballot box? Likely not, but in an environment where the internet is the public sphere and social media is our modern forum, this is a cultural coup worth paying attention to at least. It might signal a shift within the greater liberal/Left sphere that realizes that when it comes to the digital world, the Left has been lagging.
The Right has thrived by being able to spread propaganda around the internet and recruit people to their cause in ways that the Left has never been able to accomplish. Perhaps, in the course of the continued meme fight, people might begin to drift away from a movement that can offer nothing other than cute memes and complaints. This may be an opportunity for substance to win over the farce.