It’s a picture that might belong to a movie that’s half horror, half sci-fi: US President Joe Biden standing towards a murky background, bright-red laser beams emanating from his eyes, his United States flag brooch shining prominently towards his lapel.
But, it was no meme web page or troll account posting that picture: It was posted on Biden’s personal X web page early on Monday. Coming towards the backdrop of Israel’s brutal struggle on Gaza that has killed greater than 28,000 folks and that the US has backed, the picture prompted specific criticism of Biden by some social media customers.
Right here is all we learn about Biden’s publish thus far:
What was the publish about?
Biden’s publish got here after the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers within the Tremendous Bowl.
Singer Taylor Swift – arguably the largest title on the earth of leisure who has beforehand criticised former US President Donald Trump, Biden’s chief rival within the 2024 election – is relationship Travis Kelce, who performs for the Chiefs. Whereas Swift’s look at Nationwide Soccer League (NFL) video games this season has helped the game’s model, it has additionally sparked conspiracy theories from sections of the far-right, which have advised that the NFL was conspiring to arrange a win for the Chiefs to create a backdrop for Swift to endorse Biden’s candidature.
Although the Chiefs gained, Swift is but to declare help for any presidential candidate. That didn’t cease Biden from mocking the conspiracy concept together with his tweet, suggesting that he had plotted the second.
Similar to we drew it up. pic.twitter.com/9NBvc5nVZE
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 12, 2024
Biden’s tweet set off a variety of reactions on X, from digital eye-rolls to responses expressing disappointment and outrage.
A number of customers questioned whether or not Biden’s account was hacked. Others joked about an intern posting the picture whereas others remarked how they thought a parody account posted the image at first look.
Many advised that Biden’s publish was distasteful and insensitive because it got here amid Israel’s devastating struggle on Gaza.
The Biden marketing campaign makes a Darkish Branden joke on the identical evening that Israel kills over 100 Palestinians in a brutal bombing marketing campaign over Rafah. What did they imply by this? pic.twitter.com/QXvenBlFi0
— The Barracks (@thebarrackslive) February 12, 2024
Whereas calling for an finish to civilian deaths in Gaza, the Biden administration continues to promote and provide weapons to Israel.
that is what the president of america is tweeting whereas over 1 million males, ladies and kids are being slaughtered with weapons he has offered and paid for. https://t.co/Y278Per7ZT
— jay (@kendallhosseini) February 12, 2024
Given the struggle in Gaza, the publish was not “acceptable”, stated Ahmed Al-Rawi, an affiliate professor of stories, social media and public communication at Simon Fraser College in Canada.
“However I don’t assume Biden is pondering of the worldwide viewers right here,” he stated. “He’s largely serious about his US viewers.”
What’s the Darkish Brandon meme?
The alt textual content, or picture description on Biden’s publish, merely says, “darkish brandon”. This can be a reference to a meme that dates again to October 2021.
A crowd was chanting obscenities about Joe Biden throughout a race on the Talladega Superspeedway race observe in Alabama. Whereas interviewing race winner Brandon Brown, NBC’s sport reporter Kelli Stavast interpreted the chants to be, “Let’s Go Brandon”, and reported them as such on dwell tv.
Since then, the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” turned code for verbal abuse at Biden, lending Republican politicians new language to make use of towards Biden on-line, circumventing censorship and avoiding criticism. The phrase additionally began exhibiting up as track lyrics.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 17, 2021
The Brandon meme has since developed and totally different renditions of Biden’s picture with laser beams taking pictures out of his eyes – dubbed “Darkish Brandon” – began making the rounds on the web.
Cutouts of the Darkish Brandon meme even made an look on the venue for the third Republican presidential major debate in November 2023.
Has Biden made comparable posts up to now?
No matter origin, the meme that was supposed to mock and criticise Biden has repeatedly been co-opted by Democrats and Biden himself. His tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the Brandon phrase started as early as 2021 and has continued.
In April 2023, Biden placed on darkish sunshades after making a joke about turning into the “Darkish Brandon” persona through the White Home Correspondents’ Affiliation dinner in Washington, DC.
Biden’s marketing campaign made its first publish on Fact Social, presidential race rival Donald Trump’s conservative social media community in October 2023. With the Darkish Brandon profile image, the verified @BidenHQ account posted, “Nicely. Let’s see how this goes. Converts welcome!”
This appropriation of memes is a part of an ongoing political struggle, stated Al-Rawi, who has researched and written in regards to the politics of memes.
“The meme in itself is a political communication software,” he informed Al Jazeera. “It’s being weaponised by totally different events in an effort to appeal to consideration and distract from different points.”
Al-Rawi believes the Brandon meme has labored in Biden’s favour from the angle of his supporters, who like the truth that he takes on a political assault. Then again, Al-Rawi stated, it might come throughout as insensitive in components of the International South.
Al-Rawi additionally attributed Biden’s efforts to “meme-ify” political messaging to makes an attempt to attach with youthful voters. Biden’s capacity to manipulate has come underneath scrutiny as a result of his age and points together with his reminiscence.
Biden isn’t the one politician who has used memes to relay political messaging. Social media groups and followers of politicians together with former US President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have banked on memes and web tendencies to additional political messages.
World leaders used to speak via press releases and statements aired on tv, however the creation of social media has shifted how they convey with the general public, Al-Rawi stated.
Memes are one such means.