For some people, Joe Biden’s inauguration day and the memes of Bernie Sanders at the celebration have become an entertaining moment of the past. Yet, thanks to the internet and its inability to let things go, the viral image of Vermont’s senator sitting on a foldable chair doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
With temperatures low in Washington, D.C., Sanders donned a winter coat, cosy oversized mittens and a medical face mask to keep himself warm and safe on January 20th. Blissfully unaware of what was taking place online, his image created a social media frenzy thanks to his “informal dad attire” – his signature look which also created a viral meme in 2020. However, for others it wasn’t just about his style – it was his unbothered demeanour that really set the internet off. Photographed with both his arms and legs crossed over his body in an impatient manner that left many interpreting the senator had somewhere better to be, a flood of tweets dominated Twitter before President Joe Biden’s swearing in even took place.
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What started as a craze of Photoshopped images of Sanders on different backdrops, album covers and culturally relevant pictures has now developed into a series of animations, illustrations and comedy skits. #BerniesMittens became one of the top trending hashtags during the ceremony and his mittens – made by Vermont teacher Jen Ellis from repurposed wool and recycled plastic – became a fashion statement. On the same day, masters student and web designer Nick Sawhney went even further and created a Bernie Sanders meme website – Bernie Sits – to help less Photoshop-savvy users create even more memes. And though the website has now been disabled due to API costs, almost ten million Bernie memes were created in total.
Sanders’ team even participated in the trend by releasing merchandise to raise money for charity. Among his more established 2020 campaign gear on his official online store lies a black crewneck sweater with the trending image and, as expected, the first drop went viral and sold out immediately.
And while many are starting to get bored as the memes drag on – myself included – seeing Sanders on different backgrounds offered a collective release of entertainment after a chaotic term with Donald Trump. So, if you’re lucky and have missed the ongoing craze, here is a snapshot of some of the memes infiltrating the internet.
By Jennifer Adetoro, culture editor of CORQ.