Over the course of the last semester there have been some moving and powerful moments within the 2016 election, and there have been some downright disgusting, repulsive, scary, and even dangerous times as well. The feelings that have transpired during these moments have fueled, shaped, and transformed our class as the semester progressed, allowing us all the benefit of new material and every changing ideas, stories, motives, and statistics.
Personally, I found myself drawn to more visual aspects and reactions of the campaigns, especially those visual items culminated on social media sites like Facebook, twitter, and more. Memes and other meme like creations were sparking up every affect and effect of election interactions, and the draw was even leading to ‘stashes’: social media pages dedicated to a certain meme theme or concept- like the Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash, and the Hillary Hate Dank Meme Stash, created by yours truly. The Hillary Hate Dank Meme stash I created has also been added to and changed to reflect the growing ‘eras’ of memes which I use to compare and analyse the shifts.
Creating memes has always been seen as an art but during this election it seems to have gone even further than that, which is the reason I felt so compelled to collect, analyze, study, and predict meme creation and content. All of this progression has now lead me here- an end- attempting to ask one final question to wrap up the semester, and yes, maybe even this train wreck of a campaign. Is there a difference in pre-election, imminent-election (election day- including immediately before and after), and post-election memes? Why do Biden-Obama memes dominate post-election memes? Why don’t Hillary or Trump based memes dominate post-election memes? How will these memes affect Trumps presidency? How will these memes continue to shift?
These are a lot of questions for a final project which is supposed to be wrapping things up; however, I find them all crucial! They all show a certain mood in their respected ‘era’ of creation and the effect they were meant to have within that era. Besides their era and intended effect, these memes are crucial in thinking about the memes that follow.
I believe I came to these more final thoughts and questions because of the surprise I felt when I saw Biden-Obama memes surfacing after the election. I expected there to be an overflow of Trump memes based in racism and hate, which some were, but there were much more created and circulated from the Biden-Obama front. Once I came to turns with the shift to Biden-Obama meme, and not so secretly crushed on them, I thought that there might be something to this shift and a need for reflection. Continuing, I decided to break up the memes into creation and appearance ‘eras’, which I explained above as pre, post, and immediately surrounding Election Day. After coming to all of these organizations, I also decided to make alterations to my exploration project creation, the Hillary Hate Dank Meme Stash, and make it friendlier to the entire election process- ‘era by era’.
Pre-election Day: In the exploration talked about the different themes seen within the memes created in the earlier segment of the election- the campaign period. I harped on the ideas of corruption and trustworthiness in memes that mostly focused on Hillary or photos of Hillary which had comments or ideas that Trump and other negative forces put on Clinton.
One of these memes shows Clinton’s ‘untrustworthiness’ with a photo of Bernie who is sarcastically acting like he did everything he could to endorse Hillary. This is like the article from Time which covered the endorsement Bernie gave in New Hampshire. Time spoke about the fact that Sanders was known for bringing people “off the sidelines,” and into politics to help Americans; however, it also seems to allude to the fact that once Bernie gets to the actual endorsement it seems to become less sincere.
Another meme I spoke about in my exploration was about the suspected corruption that surrounds Hillary from her time as Secretary of State. She was accused of Emailgate and this idea of her corruption is displayed in the meme where her eyes grow an exaggerated amount to show how much she loves corruption that is assumed of her. The idea of corruption was not only found in the memes that I collected but also within the article “Hillary’s First 100 Days.” The article looks at a fictitious portal of what Hillary’s first 100 days as president would look like. It cronicalizes the popular ideas of corruption, like the placement of friends to high positions, makes fun of Bill and the idea that Hillary did more than him while in the White House, and more.
These ideas of trustworthiness and corruption are ones that follow Hillary throughout the memes created before and even after the publication of my exploration project. These also followed in memes that were post-election, for example, there is a meme of Hillary trying to figure out her loss but she lost the email- always going back to her trustworthiness and corruption.
Imminent Election Day: These memes were not ones I got to analyze in my exploration. Many of the memes right before and right after the election- very soon after getting the results- were created in humor. Americans, Trump supports and non-Trump supports alike, could not believe Trump’s victory so a lot of meme creators made memes to shows Hillary’s very close call or the fact that so many people thought she would win.
One of the memes that displays this best is of a man- from a comical commercial- dangling the White House over Hillary’s head, as a ‘you were so close, but too bad’ type of display.
Another meme that continues this comical nature is one of Steve Harvey, a previous host of Miss Universe. During the airing of his announcement of Miss Universe Harvey accidentally announced the wrong name, it was a huge comedic event that graced pop-culture. This meme is like the last in the fact that they both show how close Hillary was portrayed as projected winner.
These memes have Hillary in common, as well as the comedic aspect; however, an even more important shared aspect is the pop-culture use in both memes. This is definitely seen in the pre-election memes as well, especially in this meme, which takes a very popular photo on used on Facebook, and other memes, circling the pop-culture presents that fuels memes.
Both the pre- and post-election memes are very similar because of the pop-culture aspects as well as the use of Hillary as a comical point to condemn her alleged past, with some Trump thrown in there. However this is not a trend that continues as strongly as it did within the first two ‘eras’. There is a shift that was, to me unexpected, but in other ways expected.
Meme Shift Analysis Post-election
Coming into the post-election era, I think many would agree, that an overwhelming amount of Trump meme was expected- since there was a lot of harsh and overwhelming rhetoric surrounding his campaign. You would think that a lot of memes surrounding racism and white supremacy would spout but instead there were many ore memes staring Obama and Biden beginning to buzz around social media. Within the Post-Election Meme category on the Hillary Hate Dank Meme Stash…..Turned Post Election Reflection, the sheer amount of Biden-Obama memes is very evident because they were absolutely everywhere when I was collection for this section.
Many of the OB (Obama-Biden) memes are directly related to Trump in a comical way, like Biden playing practical pranks on Trump, setting traps for Trump for his arrival at the White House. Many of the memes even go as far changing or code-switching language, like this meme that switched between standard and vernacular Englishes.
Like the other ‘era’ categories, the post-election or shift ‘era’ also carries pop-culture references as seen in this meme where Biden takes the place of Kermit the Frog who shows plays the bad angel in many different types of memes.
These culture references, however, do not tell us why the OB memes dominated the Post-election ‘era’ of memes.
From the fear, uneasy, sad and openly uncomfortable moods of the post election speeches contained in the Open Thread: Election Results, it could be possible that the post-election shift came from the overwhelming doomed that people felt after hearing the final election results. So many people were so surprised by Trumps win maybe there was a bit of softening, so maybe the OB memes were representative of this sorrow that OB will leave the White House and Trump will enter. I think that the humor is still present in these memes like the pre and imminent eras because the American people need it to cope. And the sorrow and fear of change that the OB memes posses is present to help us heal.
These memes will definitely effect the time leading up to Trump’s inauguration. The sorrow that these memes show allows the disappointment of supports, other than Trump supporters, after the election of someone who was so hateful during their campaign.
This election was very draining.