Donald Trumped? Meme Warfare and the Next US President

Unless you’ve been hibernating for the past few months (and with Brexit and Scottish winters, who can blame you?) you’ll be painfully aware of this year’s US election results. On Tuesday the 8th November, the 45th president of the United States of America was elected: a man accused of 12 counts of sexual assault, who deems Mexican immigrants to be ‘rapists’, and whose policies range from the bigoted to the ridiculous: Donald Trump. Predictably, the internet has been ablaze with responses- many astute commentaries have been written, many analyses of the changes Trump plans to make. But for a second I’d like to direct your gaze away from these insightful and often sobering responses, and take a glance at a much more modest format. I’d like to lighten the collective mood with a romp through the world of the humble meme- and its surprising power to bring a glimmer of humour into this mess. They’ve been popping up on my various social media feeds for weeks now, and this is a fantastic excuse to indulge my penchant for internet wit, and document a few of the choicer examples.

Not surprisingly, one of my personal favourites is of the ‘Trump Quotes’ variety. In response to the (oh, I don’t want to type this) president’s misogynistic comments of 2005, one entertaining meme maker transposed his quote onto a dog. With his uncannily accurate wig, and encouragement of bold laughter in the face of Trump’s sexism, ‘Dognald’ makes an excellent parody…yes he does, who’s a good boy?

Dogs were a popular theme in the Trump pastiche category, it would seem- another amusing example features this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert overlaid with the faces of Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump. Obama is shown building a trampoline, above which hovers an image of the White House. Later, an eager Hillary Clinton gambols towards it, only to be overtaken at the last moment by a dog with the face of Trump, who claims the trampoline for himself….’You can’t always get what you want’ is the final caption. You can find this gem here

I could mention hundreds more, but for the sake of brevity, I’d like to conclude by paying homage to a thread of memes which have kept me going through all the madness of this month: the Joe Biden-Barak Obama conversation memes. In case you haven’t seen them, these are pretty much what the description suggests- hilarious made-up conversations between Barack Obama and his Vice President Joe Biden, often above pictures of the pair. The topic of conversation in most of these hinges on Trump- Biden is cast as a rebellious prankster tirelessly striving to injure or humiliate Trump, whilst Obama plays the weary authority-figure attempting to make Biden accept his presidency.

However silly, memes like these are a reminder that anxiety can be met with humour- a fundamental human coping strategy when things look set to change for the worse. With that in mind, go forth and scroll!

[Bethany Garner]

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