One of the most extraordinary things that came out of the 2016 Presidential election was the meme juggernaut that was TheDonald, a subreddit on Reddit that supported Donald Trump's run for President. It was and is a popular subreddit, so much so that Reddit has tried three times at least to "tweak" or "alter" the algorithm via which posts are considered popular enough to reach the coveted front page. Because the more popular a post is, the more prominent it is - and The Donald was popular. 

In contrast, there were tumbleweeds blowing through /r/HillaryClinton - because it was a tightly controlled, heavily censored echo chamber controlled by Correct The Record

And boy, did TheDonald meme like crazy. The 4chan frog, Pepe, became a repeated reference that was even mentioned during the campaign, and designated as a hate symbol by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In brainstorming they say never censor yourself - let all thoughts fly and amplify the ones that have merit. As a result, they had memorable and impactful slogans, images and memes that illustrated perfectly their love for The Donald. Whether you agreed with them or not, you had to applaud how deftly some of these folks could meme.

The New York Times was certain that after the election, the mad energy around /r/TheDonald would cease - and they were absolutely wrong. Wrong for one because "the people" (e.g. the losers of the election) didn't take the election loss sitting down and masked up and interfered with the inauguration. A splinter group decided to create a sister subreddit showing people "the tolerant left" called /r/tolerantleft. And they find any and every instance of "the tolerant left" and why they oppose it. Someone get bashed in the back of the head with a baseball bat because he wore a Make America Great Again hat to the Presidential inauguration? It'll be on The Donald, and they'll blow up the photo of the perpetrator.

Likewise the girl who lit a Trump supporter's hair on fire for wearing a Trump hat (at the inauguration) in front of the hordes of angry women with bullhorns screaming "THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE". 

The Women's Rights Marches took place in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. A laudable set of events. Of course a lot of women are genuinely fearful that a new President means an erosion of their rights - and they despair that America would choose a man who even remotely thought it appropriate to even think about grabbing women "by the pussy".  But The_Donald seized on the internet history of the woman who organized the protests - and it turned out to be a Muslim woman who strongly advocates for Shari'a law in the United States. Never mind the meme possibilities of making fun of the more.... theatrical participants in these sorts of things, they had a marvellous, marvellous contradiction to mock. Here are hundreds of thousands, even millions of women - some of whom wearing genitalia costumes and generally carrying on in ways that are not allowed in Islam - marching at the direction of a woman who wants to promote a legal system that by the marchers' standards literally subjugates women.

If you go on TheDonald right now, it's a mix of memes about the march,  and though I don't agree with the sentiment I still can appreciate on an intellectual level the impact of the memes: for example a 1950s man crouching over a boy and pointing in a black and white photo with the caption "Look son, a fat purple haired woman in a vagina costume is going to lecture us on human dignity" and the most barbed (considering the politics of the past few years, especially Michelle Obama's health and fitness initiatives for women and children) "Donald Trump got more (obese women) walking in one day than Michelle Obama managed in eight years." But also in this are savage ones: little girls in hijabs with the caption "Both Allah and my husband love me for who I am, not my age. Don't let Trump discriminate against Islamic marriage #ShariaForAmerica #WhyIMarched". 

An increasing problem for politicians is that these meme artists have a very finely tuned radar for cognitive dissonance, and absolutely love to hurl vitriol its way. And wrapping their perspective in humor and with meme whimsy makes it more "sticky". During the campaign the subreddit liked to say The Trump Train Has No Brakes - and it looks like that wrecking ball is continuing to swing around wildly, looking for new targets.

And it's STILL a pain in the gluteal regions for the administrators. There's no sign of their seemingly endless energy flagging, and the subreddit has more people following it AFTER the election than before. America loves to jump on the bandwagon of a winner - and they have managed to echo Trump's campaign meme about us winning so often we'll get tired of it.

 

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.