The man, the mittens, the pose and the context itemized the most sensational US inauguration day hit content ‘grumpy Bernie Sanders’ memes for the internet world. Searching by #berniememes will provide you with some good laughs if you haven’t already followed the viral trend.
After the chaotic turn of events at Capitol Hill on January 6, finally the world refocused on the inauguration ceremony of US President Joe Biden and vice president Kamala Harris on 20th January.
But no one could’ve imagined the post- inauguration highlight of the internet world would be neither the president’s speech nor the significant ceremonial moments, but rather a single senator’s photo and a pair of mittens!
The photo of former Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont huddled in a chair with pose and poise, his two hands crossed in woolly mittens, and his expression cagey with a surgical mask, was viral for almost the entire week following the event, surfing through every nook and corner of the internet world.
How and why this image invited attention of this scale? No one knows exactly.
Maybe Bernie’s homely feeling mittens in an effort to keep himself warm resonated with everyone around the world from US to Argentina, and Iran to India. Also a political figure’s secluded yet endearing minimalist image in a prime political setting surely spiked the comic relief the world was eager to grasp, after a year of the pandemic and the shocking Capitol Hill riot.
Discover Bernie Sanders cropped into most bizarre backdrops
The #berniememes wave sparked a hilarious challenge of putting him cropped with his chair in the most bizarre places yet fitting perfectly.
Self-acclaimed social democrat Sanders is much-loved among the youngsters for espousing policies like minimum wage raise, healthcare for all and pointing at prevailing economic divide.
Most of this oldest presidential contender’s fans are aged under 30, so the meme wave was inevitable positioning him in every other famous sitcom, series or film.
Bernie in his mittens became pertinent in any place from Forrest Gump’s chocolate box scene, to chilling in Star Wars action scenes, to the Game of Thrones’ Brandon Stark’s chair!
One may find Bernie Sander these days even in historical photographs or paintings like Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ beside Jesus and his apostles or his mittened hand in the climatic fresco of Michelangelo’s famous painting in the Sistine Chapel .
Bangladeshi netizens also got hit by the Bernie meme storm and we saw him sitting on a foot-over bridge in Mirpur or with a bunch of HSC examinee without a care in the world. The #berniememe wave swung the Bollywood world too!
Look for famous ‘kuch kuch hota hay’ scene where Sharhrukh held on to the two actresses at the same time and Bernie sitting on the bench depicting a regular elderly resting in the park with the caption ‘Bernie was there’.
Bernie Sanders’s reaction
Memes involving Sanders were never out of fashion in the political meme arena but this one created a global fan base of its own over the night! And how would the prominent politician react?
In the ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’ NBC show Bernie admitted to being very aware and amused by his mitten memes with a genuine chuckle.
He also introduced the lady who handmade the famous brown mittens in the photo as a school teacher from Essex Junction in Vermont. The lady already got overwhelmed with the request for weaving more mittens but she refused saying,’ those mittens were a gesture of admiration to the Democrat senator and they are not for sale.’
Sanders’ team promptly took the chance of meme mania and started a charity service selling his meme printed T-shirts online.
Sanders told CNN on Sunday that his meme printed sweatshirts and T-shirts will be produced in Vermont and sold around US with all the proceeds going to a charity feeding low-income senior citizens.
Former presidential contender is expecting a couple of million dollars to be raised from the sales.
As Sanders is extremely popular among the youth the charity should definitely be a successful one.
A reflection of American political culture
Political satire has been an integral part of American political culture for almost six decades now. Evening TV shows where talk show hosts and comedians dissect politics with wit and courage remarks is a very common scenario for American viewers.
A generation’s political opinion and consciousness today in US is shaped and influenced by political comedians like Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel, John Stewart, Bill Maher and more.
They fashioned joke and satire as the perfect enzyme for digesting any and every political issue for the American audience. Anyone who gets the joke in America gets politics. And who doesn’t get the joke right?
In this regard Bernie memes doesn’t refer to any deep issue. Even its satirical calibre is quite a no- brainer.
Yet a prominent and powerful senator like Bernie Sanders’s reaction towards turning into a meme and him appreciating the sarcasm full-fledged refers to the decades-old political culture of tolerance and freedom of expression once again.
Sitting in this part of the world where the long nurtured culture of political caricature and cartoons are vanishing from the print mediums this sort of appreciation seems quiet unreal.
The question is we can make Bangladeshi versions of #berniememes as much as we like, but can we cultivate the same political culture in our country?