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Charlie Don't Meme

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If you're reading this, by now you're probably familiar with the concept that's usually worded "the Left can't meme". At its' core, what this means is that as of Current Year +2 the Left have found themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to driving internet culture. Because the internet is now so central to culture in general, particularly for what are supposed to be some of their core demographics, this has put Leftists in a perilous position - as Andrew Breitbart said, "Politics is downstream from culture." Put plainly, the Left just aren't fun or funny any more. That territory has been ceded almost entirely to the nationalist right.

We refer to the last couple of years, roughly encompassing Brexit and the 2016 US Presidential election, as the "(Great) Meme War" for a reason. The world reached a kind of connectivity tipping point, long-standing trends (demographics, trust in the media, identity politics) came together, and we were blessed enough to bear witness to the perfect storm of right wing populism tailored perfectly for the information age. Make no mistake about it, Donald Trump is President of the United States of America because of the internet. Trump masterfully played the role of the populist candidate by communicating directly with the voters via Twitter in concert with holding rallies nationwide rather than playing the outmoded, overpriced policy wonk game of targeting swing states, but he also had an absolutely gigantic, fanatical volunteer army fighting for him online 24/7.

The memes, of course, played a huge role in Trump's win, and this post isn't about the winning side so I won't devote much time to them. We baited Hillary Clinton into naming the Alt-Right while calling a cartoon frog racist. There were effective campaigns like #DraftOurDaughters, and memes were also used by the right for damage control and normalization. Really, taken as a whole, the presidential election was an impressively effective crowdsourced psyop; it's the kind of thing the CIA dreams about, but it was pulled off by internet racists and NEETs. There are even memes ridiculing government agencies for not being as good as chan autists at solving IT-related crimes or finding terrorists.

Instead, what I want to focus on is the Left's continued struggle to get their groove back when it comes to comedy and effective information warfare. They may control the legacy media and Hollywood, but they're being made fools of online. I've got specific examples for this post to broadly illustrate three problems they have: 1) their attempts at new memes are subverted, repurposed, or appropriated by the right, 2) their memes are inartfully crafted and are therefore useless as propaganda, and 3) their attempts to appropriate memes fail because of their inflexibility and narrow band of accepted humor.

Memes ripe for appropriation.

Here we have the "Trump chicken", currently being run into the ground on r/The_Donald. This example should be immediately obvious as a failure, but there's even more going on if you take the time to analyze it.

First, consider the Leftists' intent. They set up a 30 foot tall inflatable chicken that looks like Donald Trump outside the White House. There's no signage with it, and to my knowledge there have been no press releases or statements by the group responsible, so it's left up to the observer to interpret. It's obviously comparing Trump to a chicken, implying cowardice, and generously viewed it could also be a play on the term chickenhawk because of Trump's recent rhetoric about North Korea.

In this case, the Leftist intent doesn't really matter any more. The object was almost immediately embraced and appropriated by the right as a pro-Trump meme, with people taking pictures in front of it wearing MAGA hats and drawing cartoon versions of it.

Why is this a failed meme? The surface explanation is that the chicken is too cool and/or cute looking to be an effective insult, regardless of the symbolism. It's not a grotesque, unappealing caricature, instead looking more like a cartoon character. But there's more going on here.

The hair, beak, and feet are accented in gold, which has essentially no negative connotations; it's used solely to strengthen the "get it, it's DRUMPF" aesthetic. Gold is an ancient symbol of wealth and power, and they're deliberately associating it with their enemy without presenting any kind of explicit or implicit argument as to why it's a bad thing.

The character is making gestures which are now strongly associated with Donald Trump's style of talking with his hands: the flat "OK" gesture and the pointer finger. The problem is that these are simple, powerful emotive gestures - The Don uses them for a reason - which, again, aren't being adequately reframed as negative in this context.

Rather than simply portraying Trump as a chicken, they've given the character a golden comb and a bright red wattle: this is clearly a rooster. The rooster is an animal which has been associated with strength, pride, boldness, and fighting ability for over a thousand years. A man isn't referred to as "the cock of the walk" if he's weak, modest, or submissive.

What we have here is in fact a mess of an attempted insult, which is becoming a hallmark of the Left. There's no clear idea - there's literally no text or slogan offered with it - which is a characteristic of bad propaganda. You don't want to rely on the target interpreting your propaganda correctly devoid of an explicit or implicit message, and "Trump = gilded rooster" isn't even in the ballpark of good messaging.

Oh, and there's one other problem.

That inflatable Trump rooster is directly based on a statue that was originally put up outside a mall in China to celebrate the Chinese New Year. 2017 is the Year of the Fire Rooster, a time of strength and prosperity, which is described as follows according to some ching chong Fung Shui crap:

--- Quote ---The Fire Rooster is an extremely strong willed and proactive person. They have many leadership qualities and are excellent organizers which is always visible in their workplace. They have the ability to go very far in their workplace as long as they are able to overcome their shyness. The Fire Rooster is able to handle big tasks very well and is very good at multi-tasking. ...

The Rooster has a flamboyant and colourful personality and is thorough in all they do. They are always organized and like to plan their various activities well in advance. They are usually highly intelligent and very well read with a good sense of humour  They love discussion and enjoy taking part in debates. They have no hesitation in saying what is on their mind. Roosters should try to avoid acting on the spur of the moment as they have a very volatile nature. They are capable of accumulating a considerable sum of money throughout their life.
--- End quote ---

Wow. Those Progs really laid a sick burn on DRUMPF with their balloon.

Memes with botched executions and muddled messaging.

This is one of those fairly standard "lol Trump is dumb/says dumb things" memes, but this is an example that is poorly executed and therefore a miss when it comes to persuasion. Again we're presented with a meme that requires the reader to interpret it correctly, and the creator has left too much room without enough anti-Trump guidance. Beyond that you have a deeper problem - we've observed the Left's increasing reliance on pop culture as a frame of reference, particularly Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and the like. This anti-Trump meme presents the target as watching one of their own cultural touchstones, and moreover it risks casting Trump in a sympathetic light as a regular guy who watches and enjoys the same TV shows normies do.

There's another Leftist blind spot negatively impacting the effectiveness of this meme, and it comes in the form of credentialism. "OMG Drumpf is so stupid, he says he learns stuff from watching TV. He's not smart like me because he doesn't have three degrees in Intersectional Queer Latinx Gender Studies." The normie doesn't see anything intrinsically wrong with learning by watching TV. There are dozens of cable networks originally founded on that very idea.

Another problem here is that it risks tying Trump's inspiration to the dragon, which is a fantasy creature that carries much of the same symbolism as the rooster from the previous example. Dragons have been included in heraldry for centuries, and even in the meme it's portrayed as powerful. In a way it's natural to be inspired by the idea as presented.

Finally, we have Trump Derangement Syndrome coming into play. This meme was born because the president did some saber-rattling against the Norks, and by God the Leftist cannot allow that to stand un-challenged. So we have here a clumsy meme that could easily be interpreted as a Prog leaping to the defense of Kim Jong Un just to get in a limp "lol ur dumb" joke that turns off normies.

Missing the point & making obvious, inferior knockoffs.

This one may require some prefacing, because I don't know how caught up you guys are on your memes. I found what is a Leftist version of the Virgin/Chad meme to use as an example here, but I don't know if you all are familiar with the original concept.

Here are a some examples:

I won't dedicate much time to explaining it, because explaining a joke ruins it. Suffice it to say that, at its' heart, the meme is silly and at least slightly self-deprecating on the part of the right. Everybody has a little of the Virgin in them, and not enough of the Chad, and so on.

On the other hand, here we see the Leftists giving it the old college try:

Close, but no cigar. It's formatted both sloppily and incorrectly, it's lazily made/redrawn, and all in all it's quickly and easily identifiable as a substandard counterfeit. The message, just like any knockoff, is muddled. On its' face it seems to have the same tone as the genuine article, but in this case it doesn't function as propaganda because it doesn't leave an ideological opening for the normie - it's alienating if you believe voting can still serve a purpose, it's pro-rioting, its' anti-capitalism message is targeted more at sympathetic liberals than the right, etc.

Perhaps the biggest sin the creator committed in making this, though, is that they either missed the point of the meme or couldn't bring themselves to be a little self-critical. Clearly the creator wants so strongly to identify with the Chad that they neglected to poke fun at themselves by including some of their small flaws in the Virgin. They're not esoteric or insightful, and it's just not funny. None of these examples of Prog memes are inviting for fence-sitters, nor are they effective rhetoric.

There's no genuine mirth any more on the Left, because their world is ending. They're mentally exhausting themselves by going to Defcon 1 over everything Trump says or does. That's not the kind of environment that fosters humor. If anything this shows how shitty George W. Bush was, because Bush Derangement Syndrome was the precursor to Trump. Dubya tried to pay nice and roll with the punches, and it won him nothing. In hindsight the seething rage that was the undercurrent of all the BU$HITLER protesting is on full display now because Trump isn't cooperating. That's what all of this keeps coming back to. It's not funny, and it's no fun to be the loser.

Dem Wypipo:
The left is so straitjacketed by the progressive stack that it has effectively paralyzed them.  The left is unable to be funny in general (see: Aziz Ansari and Donald Glover) because they have to adhere to rules that are nonsensical and are easily exploited by their enemies.  So they keep getting outwitted at every turn.  This only makes them angrier, which makes them even less able to counter, and so on.  It's a death spiral until the left just melts into a puddle of lard and blue hair dye.

The Trumpriarch:

--- Quote from: I love cock more than 🍆🍆🍆 does on August 11, 2017, 07:08:06 PM ---they have to adhere to rules that are nonsensical and are easily exploited by their enemies.

--- End quote ---

While not wrong, the true irony is that these rules are exploited by their own side in order to virtue signal how committed to the cause they are. They just can't wait to turn on their own, because only those on their side truly care about being called out for micro aggressions and wrong-think.

that chicken thing is as evocative of colonel sanders as it is trump


--- Quote ---It's not funny, and it's no fun to be the loser.
--- End quote ---

Yeah, case in point:

These shits were all over social media, from the end of 2016 until the inauguration, when The Left finally lost its marble. This kind of bland, two-tone humor isn't funny. Not the gut-busting, Tay Zonday in a Dr. Pepper commercial funny. It's hipster humor.

The Left has decided that mean-spirited, derogatory comedy is verboten, and as a result, have become the puritanical prudes they always shamed their grandparents for being. Which is real neat, since their grandparents grew up with the likes of Looney Tunes. They've thrown away "smart" comedy because its too sexist, or made by white people. They've shut themselves out of clever shit like Monty Python unironically. Their fragile echo chambers can't handle it.

They deserve to lose.


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