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Biden campaign now hawking Dark Brandon t-shirts
Plus: an embarrassing Tucker Carlson video, a yoga cult podcast episode, and some interesting reads.
There’s something unsettling (if not a smidge desperate) about a Democratic campaign embracing the meme-ification of a sitting American president. It's like playing Ouija board in a church or inviting a vampire into a warm disco tech. It doesn’t feel like a great idea. You remember the last president we meme’d into the White House? Are we getting a Dem version of Q, too? This is not a “we’re better than that” post. Honestly, fuck decorum right now. I’m not trying to clutch my pearls at a little fun. Selling Dark Brandon merch just feels like an odd choice for a campaign trying to elevate themselves above MAGA Republicans. And it makes me wonder if the campaign understands what they’re doing here, or how bad early polling is with Gen-Z voters.
Dark Brandon is a reactive commentary to the photo-shopped Trump images depicting the ex-president as an all-powerful being. I’m old enough to remember all the think pieces about the parallels such imagery had to fascist dictators (damn, maybe I am clutching my pearls a bit).
The “Dark Brandon” trend took the deeply unfunny “Let’s Go Brandon” phrase and made it into a 4chan-esque meme that you’d otherwise see from a MAGA Facebook page (who says the left can’t meme?). The laser eyes depicted in the image originated in gamer communities and unsavory forums a few years back. Ironically enough, this meme genre was later co-opted by internet communist personalities, and is often referred to as Lenin eyes.
I assume Megan Coyne made the call to go "dark." Coyne was hired by the White House to head its social media back in August after she successfully ran the New Jersey Governor's Twitter account. Twitter often praises her clap-back approach to online political discourse and grasp of internet culture. She undoubtedly noticed the Dark Brandon meme and perhaps thought it a good idea to leverage its dankness (barf) for some delicious internet clout.
But surely Coyne and her social media team know that once a meme is self aware it loses its je ne sais quoi. It becomes cringe. No one wants to touch it. Sure, a few elder millennials (me) who still use the phrase “da bomb” unironically (no offense) might pick up a tee only having a vague sense of what the image means. But that choir has already been preached. We’re not the target audience.
At any rate, Biden's campaign approved the idea, and now we can all buy a White House official Dark Brandon shirt for $32 plus shipping. And actually, who are we to say Biden & co. are the ones off the rails here? They’re just trying to connect with young voters. And hey, what if it works. Biden isn’t exactly killing it with the young folks. Why not toss the kids a couple of mee-mees? Who knows? Maybe some merch will make them forget that the Dems want to ban their favorite app. Or that Biden’s favorite pastime is calling for more police funding. Those little commies running around TikTok might just trade in their evil hammer and sickle for some good wholesome Union-busting.
Other stuff happening this week
Good Substack read: Why Silicon Valley is bringing eugenics back
Good podcast episode: The First American Yoga Cult Leader (part 1)
Have the day you deserve: Also, remember when Tucker Carlson had a complete meltdown when a guest called him out for being a corporate puppet? Let’s watch the video in honor of Tucker getting shit-canned this week: