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The internet often talks seriously about cultural resets. Shakira performing at the Super Bowl? Cultural reset. Parasite winner of the best film? Cultural reset. Beyonce literally do anything? Cultural reset. Loosely defined cultural resets are times when things change and the vibe in the collective pop culture room recalibrates. This week’s cultural reset? A 79-year-old US Senator from Vermont seated in a chair.
President Biden and Vice President Harris’ inauguration on Wednesday was full of fashion moments: Lady Gaga’s Golden Bird, Harris Pearls, everything is by Michella Obama. But it was Sen. Bernie Sanders (D – Vermont), dressed in his coat and mittens and holding a card stock envelope (and maybe a cashier’s check?), Who caught the attention of the creators of memes everywhere. Before the swearing-in even happened, people were tweeting pictures of the senator, commenting on his accessories and flawless demeanor. As the sun was setting he was photographed in all kinds of scenes, from New York subway to the Iron Throne.
It was a cultural reset but not in the traditional sense; No one really thinks of memes, Bernie Sanders, or even mittens any differently now because of this. Instead, it was a realization that sometimes during the Biden / Harris administration there would be memes reversed and of no consequence to politics. That in the absence of a reaction to President Trump’s tweets, social media may react to something else.
That’s not to say that now that Trump has been moved and dethroned, the internet will revert to the way it was in 2015 – that would be naive and myopic. America’s problems are not immediately resolved by the new administrations, and no matter who wins, there will always be people who don’t feel like they are in the gag order. But the meme shows that there has been a change. (Well, this and the fact that @POTUS now follows Chrissy Teigen.) It was almost like she was testing uncharted waters, a sea of Great Beyond (Trump’s presidency). Scrolling down to find each new was like hearing Lucille Bluth on Development stopped say, “It’s so good to laugh again” – an uncertain moment of levity delivered in still very tense times.
Many of the best memes are born this way. Like most good moods, they are tension breakers. A collective liberation. The internet has had some good ones over the past four or five years, but often, in the midst of political wrangling, it has been difficult to know when to step in with a joke. On Wednesday morning, people let them rip – and suddenly what kept everyone warm was laughter.
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