Memeing the Unmemeable President: Dark Brandon Takes on The Right

The Dark Brandon memes are a good distraction from a very normal presidency — but reveals a new tactic against the conservative meme machine

Jamie Cohen

--

“Dank Brandon” edit by u/The_Michelin_MANiac on the r/DarkBrandon Subreddit

But what is Dark Brandon?

This is now the meme question I’m getting most often. (The second most is about NAFO, but that’s another story.) Typically, I’m hesitant to explain the Dark Brandon — now Dank Brandon — meme because it means so much and so little at the same time, but the meme’s secondary power inspires me.

In a standard analysis, Dark Brandon is a nuanced, layered, reappropriated meme, combining visual meme clusters from the far-right, the right, and the very online. Secondarily, it provides a tactic in disarming a wide-spread grift. Dark Brandon is also just a celebration of a President doing his job.

President Biden promised a boring presidency and he’s kept that promise pretty well. The downside is that the previous president was a walking, talking, grifting, human meme who made policy choices like he was reading an internet comments section.

Systems shifted to adapt to that reality — social media changed its profit model, the news became more tolerant of the far-right, and citizens saw America’s top office used unconventionally. With Trump out of office and booted from mainstream social media, there is a president-sized meme-shaped-hole in the internet.

This is where Biden is now, but by comparison, Biden is fairly un-memeable. He makes so many gaffes, misstatements, and stumbles (verbally and physically) with such normalcy that it just is what it is.

These gaffes and their lack of news coverage happen to confirm an imbalance of how Biden is presented on screen by comparison to his predecessor — but then again, Biden isn’t a mean and callous racist. At his most memeable, Biden was the counterpart in the poorly-aged Obama/Biden last days in office memes or as the butt of Trump’s jokes.

--

--

Jamie Cohen

Digital culture expert and meme scholar. Cultural and Media Studies PhD. Internet studies educator: social good, civic engagement and digital literacies