Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Game Of Memes

Whether or not Theresa May drove the Conservative Party election campaign off a cliff on purpose to derail Brexit is up for debate, but there's no getting around the fact that within a matter of weeks her party slipped from probable landslide to just squeezing into power after being severely mauled by the Labour campaign.

  As somebody who spends far too much time on Twitter I began to notice a shift in the lefty narrative a few weeks ago, Corbyn and Corbyn related memes were being churned out like cheap Ladas, they were everywhere. I suddenly began to realise that I'd seen this all before, last year, actually, during the Trump campaign and the ''Great Meme War Of 2016''. Yes, after the brutal drubbing of 2016 the left had finally got their act together and discovered ''Meme Magic''.

According to the Telegraph:

Data from We Are Social, an agency, revealed that the Labour Party increased its following by 61 per cent across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the six weeks after the election was called. The Conservatives' following rose by just 6 per cent in the same period
"The Conservatives and Theresa May really missed a trick over the past six weeks," said Andre van Loon, research and insight director at We Are Social. "They would have seen the data as it came through and yet they didn't change anything. They could have tried to be more appealing to young people from the start."
He said that Theresa May's core message of stability did not appear to play well with undecided voters, but Labour's "engaging and social" posts performed better. "The 'strong and stable' message didn't seem to attract any new support on social media," he said.

 It's hard to think of two men as radically different to one another as Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump, whether in terms of personality or politics. However, in terms of waging a political social media campaign there's some striking similarities :

*Both men were vilified in the mass media.
*Both men relied on grass roots support.
*Both men claimed to be taking on the Money Power and Elites.
*Both men were relative outsiders.
*Both were widely thought of as joke candidates.

 Social media and memes are effective because it's a direct engagement from the public with the political process, this naturally means that such campaigns favour the outsider against ''The System''. In Trump's case this was the lying media, in Corbyn's it was the ''Murdoch Press''. The key to creating a good meme is that it has to be subversive and endear the person to a wider audience, and it is here where we see a gigantic difference between the Trump campaign and Corbyn's, but both have their own logic and are reflective of the positions of the two men, their characters and the cultural and political sphere within which they are operating. 

 In terms of character and politics, Corbyn can be thought of as the ''Anti-Trump'' and it shows in the memes:

Corbyn is the every man, he's the soft spoken grandfather reluctantly leaving his vegetable patch to take on the world and do what is right for the little people. It's typically Left Wing, ''Mr Corbyn Goes To Parliament''. The idea of Corbyn the Muslim terrorist sympathiser, or Corbyn the Bolshevik revolutionary is nullified. He's just a good guy standing up for what's right.  

The Alt-Right ''Shitlords'' understood that to try and portray Trump as the every-guy on the street was a complete non-starter so they bulldozed straight through it and held up Trump as the ''God-Emperor'' an unstoppable warlord, strength power and Will were unashamedly celebrated as virtuous. It was precisely because Trump was loud and aggressive, unapologetic and brash that he should be supported.  

If Corbyn was quietly shaming the Conservatives on the NHS and pensions, Trump would blow up the whole damn system, he'd ''drain the swamp'' and build himself a throne on the ruins of the American political system. In both cases the memes exaggerate and exemplify what the personality of the candidate stands for.

 The Guardian are also noticing the role played by memes in the election, in their selection of the best Corbyn memes they cite this one as being among the best, and for once I agree with them.

In this meme Corbyn is breaking the ''Fourth Wall'' the invisible barrier between the audience and the actor or entertainer or politician being watched, presumably taking part in some tedious discussion, Corbyn is saying ''This is bullshit, I know it, and I know you know it, I'm with you''. So yet again we see the outsider motif being played, he's there, but reluctantly, he is of and belongs with, the common man. 

The Conservative Party had nothing whatsoever to counter this social media memetic assault with, indeed, the only people who could've countered it had shunned the party because they were worried about being arrested under May's new internet censorship laws. Just one week after Muslims slaughtered British women with machetes on the streets of London a known terrorist sympathiser was able to be portrayed as a man of the people standing up against the elites, yet if people on ''The Right'' were to create memes pointing this out, or of the danger of Islam and demographics etc, they'd likely be locked up, especially on platforms such as Facebook where people use their real names.

 And so a mainstream ''Right Wing'' political party such as the ''Conservative'' party find themselves hemmed in on all sides by leftist political correctness while at the same time being the epitome of ''The Establishment'', this results in them being not much more than a gigantic punchbag for the left to pummel.

 The Conservative campaign was a disaster because the Left were energised and believed in Corbyn and what he represents, people voted Tory out of fear of Labour, pushing for Brexit and, well, that's about it. For somebody such as myself to enter into debate against the Left on behalf of the Tories would be idiocy, I cannot say I support any of their values, their ethics or their world view because they have nothing of substance, they're just a shell. 

 As social media becomes more influential in politics people will gravitate toward values and easily digestible memes carrying truths. The centre cannot hold, the future belongs to the extremes.....

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