Politics in memeland

Apr 262012
Authors: Emily Luft

I’ve always found presidential elections to be exhilarating. As someone who loves television, there is no better excuse to leave the TV on than during election season. As a journalism student, I love big national or international events, and I love when they go on forever. Analyzing the coverage, picking out mistakes. “That’s bias!” “That was un-bias!” Oh, the thrill!

The Olympics are another great example. But presidential elections are fun, and if you aren’t having fun, you are probably just in the wrong mindset. Back in the Kennedy v. Nixon days, I’m sure they were not fun. Citizens just learned about the candidates, watched Nixon sweat on TV and voted. But now, the election process is beat to death like a million dead horses.

I remember the 2008 election quite clearly. I was a senior in high school when it started and a freshman in college when the election was over. I was excited to be old enough to vote, and I would leave the TV on while working on homework. As a rabid Tina Fey fan, all the Sarah Palin stuff delighted me. I pulled out my “Monica Lewinsky’s ex-boyfriend’s wife for president” t-shirt, which I wore on Election Day. When Election Day finally came around, I went with my dorm friends to get our free political ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s and a woman noticed the shirt.

“Hillary Clinton isn’t even running for president anymore. It’s Obama and McCain,” she said, clearly disturbed.

“NO WAY! Gosh darn, that’s totally who I voted for! I wish I had known.”

No one can take a joke, although to give her credit, there were probably people who weren’t sure of the candidates. But now the opportunities for non-stop political humor exist outside of t-shirts and “Saturday Night Live.” The Internet happened.

The Internet was definitely around in 2008 and before, but 2008 was sort of the dawn of social media, whereas we are currently in the searing midday sun of social media. This means taking 2012 election coverage to an unacceptable level of saturation previously unknown.

We no longer just have CNN, MSNBC, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, CSPAN, CSPAN2, HLN, Comedy Central, 700 Club and their websites, but we have their respective Facebooks, Twitters (their anchor’s Twitters, the show Twitters, their Twitters’ Twitters), and now they’ve reached the blogosphere, and they have Tumblr blogs. Oh, also there’s print and radio and your mom.

The best thing about this new era of computers and phones and electricity is memes. Oh, the memes that revolve around this! So grand! With all the hoopla surrounding the GOP debates, there was this outpouring of fantastic Internet trolling, meme generating and Tweeting. Instead of a lot of F***yeah Tumblr blogs, we get things like “I Hope Rick Santorum” and “Texts from Hillary Clinton.” I encourage you to check them out, even if they are no longer relevant to the race.

Also a good picture I recently found is of Hillary Clinton dancing in what appears to be a club somewhere, and it reads, “I don’t usually dance, but when I do it’s for justice. “ Hillary is so popular this year! Don’t people know she isn’t running for president?!

Let’s go back to television real quick — another fun way to experience the elections. I’m not talking about MSNBC (as fun as it is to watch Chris Matthews yell at every one of his guests), but entertainment shows jump on this. “Saturday Night Live,” “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” etc. This is when the genius comes out on these shows. This is what they live for. Amy Poehler doing the Sarah Palin rap, Jon Stewart monologuing, Andy Richter masquerading as Newt Gingrich and Conan O’Brien as Mrs. Newt Gingrich (please Google it).

Now of course there are plenty of wonderful ways to inform yourself about the elections in a serious way. The Internet has made that information wonderfully available and easy to find. Both sides are continually represented, and the reporting is pretty fair and ethical. Twitter is great for updates; blogs are great for in depth pieces. Your options for coverage are literally endless. Despite keeping up on the elections, I do love some good entertainment. But at the end of the day, I just want to dance with Hillary Clinton.

Essentially, the elections are my personal “Hunger Games.” May the odds be ever in your (but mostly my) favor.

Emily Luft is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:15 pm

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