The Art of Political Memes
Veronica de Souza was perched in front of her TV with her iPad on her lap as she watched the presidential debates. So when Romney uttered the now infamous phrase, “binders full of women,” Veronica immediately saw an opportunity.
She logged onto her Tumblr account and created the blog, Binders Full of Women. To date she has about 15,000 submissions.
“I thought it was funny. But I never expected it to become what it did,” she says.
Memes are appealing to people because essentially it’s quick, sharable content that everyone can relate to, she says..
So why are internet memes such the rage now? It’s a way of creating a personal reality. Not only is media a fractured medium. Our interpretations of these events are nuanced as well. Memes are a collage of truth, fiction and personal beliefs. ..and of course, humor. It’s a 2D virtual reality.
It’s the same premise behind what makes videos go viral. These phenomenons are a tapping-into of the culture. I get “Icanhascheeseburger.com.” LOLcats rule. They’re cute. They elicit smiles. And according to Drakejournalism, the first iteration of what is now LOLcats was published in the 1870s when photographer Harry Whittier Frees took pictures of his felines and turned them into greeting cards with some added text. But random gangnam style dancing? I don’t get that. But I suppose it’s just a more subtle sharing of cultural context. But really I’m just not cool enough.
Trying to monetize the frenetic sharing of these memes and viral videos isn’t the point. The point is that political memes can be used as tools to gauge the cultural zeitgeist. What could be more valuable than understanding the emotions and motivations of our digital neighbors?