Bernie Sanders is a Disney Princess

birdie sandersIn a presidential campaign where fantasy and reality are constantly clashing, the memeification of Bernie Sanders is a strange phenomenon. The fervent need to declare Sanders the most authentic presidential candidate falls somewhere between hysteria and deification. But now the Sanders phenomenon has reached a climactic moment. Sanders statistically probably won’t be the Democratic nominee but his perceived authenticity is still attracting rabid support.

Birdie Sanders, the meme that emerged after a bird landed on the podium as Sanders gave a speech in Portland, illustrates the spectacle surrounding his candidacy. The audience reaction, seen above, is mesmerizing. It is unreal. It is literally the unabashed fandom reserved for Tumblr manifesting itself at a political rally.

It’s also reminiscent of a trope commonly found in several Disney Princess movies.

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)
Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
beauty and the beast
Beauty and the Beast (1993)

The visual comparison between Birdie Sanders and Disney Princesses found its way into the subsequent meme; Buzzfeed posted several “amazing” examples. Like anything driven by nostalgia and the Internet, people were entertained by the comparison. But Birdie Sanders is not an adorable intersection of politics and pop culture. These memes do nothing more than show how the Disney Princess movie is almost always perceived as a charming fairy tale. The false nostalgia from childhood clouds the memory and value of deconstructing these movies. Continue reading “Bernie Sanders is a Disney Princess”

It’s Dionne’s World, We Just Live In It

By now almost all of the hype surrounding Chris Rock’s Oscars is over. But there is still one moment I cannot shake. It has nothing to do with perfect human Brie Larson, precious cargo Joe Biden or endless meme generator Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s the bizarre appearance of Stacey Dash. What was Dionne from Clueless doing at the Oscars?

In case you missed it (how could you?), watch the clip below.

Like Chrissy Teigen, you cringed. I cringed. We all cringed.

Coming at the end of Rock’s monologue, which was either legendary or divisive depending who you ask, Dash is introduced as the Academy’s new Director of Minority Outreach.  You can hear the crickets in the audience as Dash walks on stage and awkwardly proclaims, “I can’t wait to help my people out! Happy Black History Month!” It’s a kind of joke that seemingly bombed and served no purpose.

It may be one twisted symbiotic relationship but Dash’s appearance is kind of genius. It’s subversive and weird and politically in tune with the entire monologue.

Continue reading “It’s Dionne’s World, We Just Live In It”

Counting On: Meet the Duggars 2.0

Jill and Jessa 2

You probably heard by now, TLC has ordered a full season of Jill and Jessa: Counting On. If you didn’t know, I’m sorry to ruin your day. (But are you really that surprised? I did tell you this could happen and be successful.) But do not dismiss TLC’s continued commitment to the Duggars 2.0; this family and every nuanced aspect of their brand matters more than ever before.

Perhaps you have caught on to the extreme conservatism (and extreme progressivism for that matter) holding the United States hostage right now. The Duggars, as public evangelicals whose sole purpose is to normalize fundamentalist Christianity, are contributors to and a byproduct of the public sphere currently reshaping American politics and ideologies. Beyond that, as I’ve written before, 19 Kids and Counting and now Jill and Jessa: Counting On are part of a larger, complex media system. As much as you might hate the Duggars’ presence, they’re sticking around for a reason. Continue reading “Counting On: Meet the Duggars 2.0”

Desperately Seeking Authenticity: The Memeification of Bernie Sanders

“Nowadays, everybody tells us what we need is more belief, a stronger and deeper and more encompassing faith. A faith in America and in what we are doing. That may be true in the long run. What we need first and now is to disillusion ourselves. What ails us most is not what we have done with America, but what we have substituted for America. We suffer primarily not from our vices or our weaknesses, but from our illusions. We are haunted, not by reality, but by those images we have put in place of reality.” Daniel Boorstin, The Image, 1962

The popularity of Bernie Sanders among millennial voters is rather extraordinary and it is striking a nerve among older voters, who are actively dismissing Sanders’ youngest and often most vocal supporters. Gloria Steinem’s criticism of young women voting for Sanders reveals a fundamental and generational divide between feminists. Steinem’s comments reveal something larger happening during this election. That is the divide between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns.

More and more, I am observing my peers share memes and misconceptions about the two Democratic nominees across social media. These memes, particularly the Bernie Bros, emphasize that for whatever reason, the Clinton campaign simply does not resonate with millennials. Among my friends, the same people who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, are not supporting HRC. But why? Because Bernie Sanders, a 74-year-old white Jewish man originally from Brooklyn, is somehow perceived as more authentic than Hillary Clinton.

The supposed evidence of Sanders’ authenticity often appears on Facebook. For instance, a friend recently updated her cover photo with the caption: “When you walk the walk”.

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Bernie Sanders, allegedly marching with MLK, Jr. in Selma.

This is allegedly a photo of Bernie Sanders marching with MLK, Jr. at Selma in 1965 and it’s an internet hoax. Think about it. Do you really believe Sanders would go his ENTIRE political career (30+ years) without ever mentioning this photo? Or his presidential campaign, which needs moments like these (the real ones, not the fake ones) to elaborate the appeal of a Sanders’ presidency? The answer to both questions is no. But the memeification of Bernie Sanders is just selling what the Clinton campaign seems unable to produce.

Authenticity. Continue reading “Desperately Seeking Authenticity: The Memeification of Bernie Sanders”

#OscarsSoWhite: How I Learned To Stop Caring And Hate The Oscars

The Academy Award nominations were announced today and for the second year in a row, the acting nominees were all-white. Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Will Smith in Concussion, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation were all snubbed. And so, like that Hollywood sequel you didn’t ask for, #OscarsSoWhite is back. I’m both disappointed and not surprised. I don’t think anyone is truly surprised. Discussions of race and gender in Hollywood, both on screen and behind the camera, are never-ending. But more importantly, the Oscars are rooted in industry politics and its more clear than ever that Hollywood cannot escape itself.

Expectations are now being placed on host Chris Rock to say something, anything about this year’s Oscar snubs. But before you go down that rabbit hole, keep this in mind:

As I process yet another year of being disappointed by not only the Academy Award nominations but also by Hollywood in general, I have accepted that I simply don’t care as much as I once did.

Continue reading “#OscarsSoWhite: How I Learned To Stop Caring And Hate The Oscars”