Donald Trump's Meme Page Is The Strangest Place On The Internet
For millennials, it seems that political battles are waged online as much as they are waged in the voting booth. Nowhere is this generational gap more visible than with memes. They help build communities on social media, lending in-jokes and a shared lingo to fellow enthusiasts.
For most of this presidential carousel, Bernie Sanders has been the de facto leader of internet memes, as evidenced by his dank meme coverage in The Washington Post. But what if that shared fandom revolved around the vitriol of presidential candidate Donald Trump? The past few weeks, Reddit’s community for “The Donald” has ballooned, controlling the website’s front page with “HIGH ENERGY” ad hominems. It’s an odd microcosm of Trump fans who brandish their internet literacy like swords. Just how does this pocket of Trumpeters use their meme-spiration?
Bernie memes are generally focused on emphasizing Bernie’s likeability, especially in comparison to Hillary Clinton‘s manufactured hipness. The Donald’s meme page, on the other hand, has laser sights for any opposition. Hillary is terrible, the GOP is terrible, the media is terrible–SAD!!! In effect, everyone hates Donald because they can’t stand his success. To his fans, Trump is already a brand–he doesn’t need to establish coolness.
First and foremost, the community has adapted to Trump’s frank manner of speaking, pegged by one study as grammatically “below 6th grade level.” Enemies of Trump–an ever-growing group that includes the mainstream media, the political process, and the world at large–are described as “cucks,” a slang term for cuckolds. It’s a diss as old-timey as Shakespeare, meant to establish Trump as the Alpha plowing his way through politics.
Posts on the website abuse Caps lock in an effort to maintain the same “HIGH ENERGY” they see in Trump’s candidacy. His nationwide speeches, marked by yelling, violence, and immigrant blaming, draw large crowds for their rowdiness, and occasionally include a salute of loyalty.
More than anything, “The Donald” community hates to see their candidate compared to Hitler. Last week, when Israel’s largest conservative paper endorsed Trump, the community celebrated the supposed hypocrisy of the media. “HITLURR DURR,” the article’s tag read. Undoubtedly, the comparison is a bit sensational–Hitler is just the go-to face of evil. But it’s Trump’s inability to address criticism, his rampant Islamophobia, and his anti-immigrant policies that draw analogs to Hitler, not his relationship with Israel’s ultra-right.
Reddit, in particular, seems like an ideal website for Trump to build up a resistance against the perceived slights of internet activists–the so-called “Social Justice Warriors” and “BernieBots” of America. “SJWs are terrorists,” declares one of the subreddit’s moderators.
In demographics studies, Reddit’s users are consistently young, male, and white. Seemingly in reaction to the swell of activism in the last decade, Trump’s meme team are anti-political and anti-politically correct. One of the subreddit’s more popular posts suggest that Hillary will abandon black voters “just like Dad.” The Reddit page revels in insulting the underrepresented, banning anyone who openly criticizes Trump’s policies.
For many controversial remarks, regarding Muslims, women, and Muslim women, Trump has built a wall around himself by insisting that his statements were jests. Exploring serious topics through jokes–you’d be hard pressed to find anything more memetic than that.
But memes, by and large, are thrown into the vat of the Internet, deep-fried and discarded once the next spicy meme catches on. Trump’s political rise, meanwhile, could dictate years of American policy. Despite being anti-establishment, and anti-political, Trump’s candidacy threatens the livelihood of many minorities. That’s not radical–that’s regressive.
Lead image by Kathryn Chadason. Additional images via Slate, Imgur.
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