Noah La Vie| Des Moines, USA
President Trump retweets; sometimes they’re from fans expressing their favor with his operations, sometimes they’re unknowingly Mussolini quotes, and sometimes they’re what can only be described as internet spawn: memes.
The reaction was instant and vitriol. Some calling him a misogynist for showing a man knocking down a woman. Other’s cited his lack of judgment and making light of a serious moment. In all this few people were as loud as CNN. Not only was the username of the person in question “CNN Sucks” but their previous tweets allowed CNN to cast the twitter user’s qualities onto the President, implying that the President was personally endorsing this Twitter user’s ideas. The general reaction of the largest media organizations seemed to be of indignation and a general call of misogyny.
This should remind people of a previous meme that President Trump has retweeted not too long ago involving more violence and CNN where he body slams the effigy of CNN put on Vince McMahon’s head. It seemed to imply that President Trump was destroying what many saw as the fake news being perpetuated by CNN.
President Trump’s record of memeage, headline-grabbing, and all news is good news mentality is nothing new and should surprise no-one. It has however reached the point where some consider it be detrimental to the image of the Presidency. Some consider his lack of concentration on his policies in every station a failing on his part.
Trump is not dumb. It is foolish, and even risky, to assume he is. To many Trump embodies a mythos of the American Hero, an elitist who spent hours in construction vehicles as a kid, who doesn’t drink, who can have fun, and most importantly: Isn’t afraid to be human. This is all well documented however and shouldn’t be news to anyone. So what, to Trump, is the purpose of these controversial and to some inspiring memes?
To the President it is useful in three senses, it sensationalizes the media to cover the small news that offended a few people thus giving him a smokescreen to do anything else, helps his claim that the media is “fake news,” and of course the meme itself props up his ego and his credibility among his followers. This is not to say that Trump only sees these actions in the eye of the maneuver, but to assume he doesn’t see them in that manner at all is to blind to the fact of the situation that Trump knows exactly what he is doing.
Trump is self-inspired, self-serving, and self-dependent. This is why so many Americans look up to him in the way they do. Trump’s unique straddling of so many American ideologies is exactly what makes him such an odd-one-out in the field of American Politics. Memes are just another one of those tools, to Trump it can be supposed that he does receive the same gratification of a good meme as the rest of us, but it also has its own sinister layer.
The good of all this is that Trump might be able to connect and showcase his beliefs of what an American is to the fulfillment of his role as Chief of State, as someone who enjoys the occasional meme. After all, what is the good of being President if you can’t enjoy being an American as well? For Trump’s supporters, he perfectly fits the mold of the guy who may not be perfect, but he knows it. He may not always apologize and he may try to defend his actions, but he is the American his supporters see Americans as. The Memelord President, The Donald.
The bad of all this is that Trump could be diluting the power of bipartisan acts and acts that may not make everyone happy but would certainly make some content. The retweets cause a smokescreen but at what cost: Transparency. When the news covers, at their own detriment, the memes Trump retweets they miss the actual deals he is making behind the scenes that aren’t just internet fodder. Rather, these deals are actually serious. Americans see that and are frustrated.
The Meme of this all is that Trump, whether he intends to or not, has shot memes directly into the face of the world. Memewars used to be a joke in the specter of the internet. Now they are actually taking place as CNN, North Korea, Hillary Clinton, and others all receive the blessing of the President to be harassed with memes, often feeling the losses. Trump has sensationalized memedom in more than one way and the effects? They’re numerous, and in many ways, unmeasurable. One thing for sure is for certain:
Memes, Trump, and politics are now inseparable.