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Good Old-Fashioned Wholesome Fun With Search Engine Terms #9

Edging ever closer to double digits on total installments of this regular feature mocking the online masses and their head-scratching search habits. Ten prime examples of these habits this time around. Aren’t they special?

peter jackson excessive

Hey, PJ lost a bunch of weight and he’s living a healthy lifestyle now. No more second breakfasts, let alone elevensies.

southern gothic and noblesse oblige

These are two of my favourite words/concepts together in one lovely, snobbish phrase and for this I thank you, anonymous searcher.

who is the man in the suit that beats up llewyn davis

If you just watch to the end of the damn movie, you’ll find out. Was this you, mother?

candy falling from the sky

Yes, please. Unless this is a new Katy Perry single, then no thank you.

sexy girls on snowmobiles

What exactly do you find when you google that? Pretty much what you’d expect, though not as much as you might hope for. This is the most tasteful and relevant result. Lookit that sexy Moto-Ski!

snow bunnydwarf shoulder prosthesis in the desolation of smaug

What a curiously specific and trivial line of inquiry. Maybe this was a WETA Workshop grunt sensitive about the reception of his work.

why does looper not have automatic weapons

Obama! *shakes fist*

violence and aesthetics and sport

Oh my.

www. threatening monologues- gangs of new york.co.za

This website does not actually seem to exist, which is unfortunate since if there was a site called Threatening Monologues aggregating all of the great tense and aggressive monologues of the movies, it would be pretty amazing. Lots of Tarantino, one would imagine. As it is, it may have to become a regular blog feature.

russell westbrook slash fanfiction

Stop and take a look at yourself, Western culture. What have you become?

Allie Brosh’s “Hyperbole and a Half”: Meticulously Analyze All The Things!

February 7, 2014 1 comment

Skepticism really must be the prevailing sentiment when faced with print releases of Internet cultural phenomena. Though there is no quantifiable reason to understand book-form versions of popular Twitter humour accounts like The Tweet of God or Shit My Dad Says or popular blogs like Stuff White People Like as somehow inferior to the online originals, it’s tempting to make that precise judgment. It’s also entirely reasonable to question why anyone would pay for something in bulky codex form when they can get the same precise content for free on the web.

But as fundamentally outdated as literary publications might seem to net-savvy millenials, the book still boasts a cultural capital, a recognized currency with a wide spectrum of the population, that a website does not. To publish a book is still, for whatever it might be worth, widely considered to be the greater accomplishment than publishing a website. Even if many more millions of readers can casually surf to a site for free than will ever pay money to read the same precise content in a book, some thousands likely still will buy the book. And for any creative individual, the promise of renumeration is hard to resist and tends to overcome more ephemeral principles about new vs. old media (if these principles are even held). The promise of profit is a key consideration, always to be kept in mind when consideration the motivation behind any initiative in consumer capitalism.

Book Cover Final threeAllie Brosh recently compiled selections from her loopily brilliant comics/text blog Hyperbole and a Half into book form, and its bright construction-paper colours and purposely crudely-drawn figures do have a way of standing out on bookstore shelves. The book contains only the highlight stories from Brosh’s still-updated blog and those stories are readily available as easily-skimmed posts rather than on more tactile pages (albeit with fewer of her delightful drawings, in many cases). Still, the collection and binding of them offers a prime opportunity to consider Hyperbole and a Half in traditional critical terms as a work of literary artistic expression.

It may seem incongruous to even rhetorically place Brosh’s cartoonish drawings and neurotic prose on par with, say, Wuthering Heights, but at least Hyperbole and a Half boasts a healthy awareness of the ridiculousness of its narratives. The stories chosen for inclusion in the book are nearly evenly split between recollections of Brosh’s childhood, tales of the vagaries of dog ownership, and startlingly open examinations of her own psychological quirks and history of depression.

Brosh herself generally appears in the stories, drawn with pipecleaner limbs of hard black lines, a polygonal pink dress, pointy blond ponytail, and a white bug-eyed head bisected by a wide mouth. The lack of vanity apparent from this cartoon depiction of herself proceeds from the surprisingly unflinching honesty of the stories themselves. This frankness, in its turn, proceeds from the share-heavy nature of autobiographical (or autobio-graphic, to rehash a term I once coined in academic work for comics self-portraits) millenial cultural discourse, especially on the internet.

Yet Brosh’s meticulous analysis of the decisions of dogs, of the psychology that underlies behaviours and social conventions of people, and of her own emotional and mental processes is never uncomfortable in any soul-baring way. Lathering these examinations with thick, sweet humour certainly helps; it is very hard to read this book in public without laughing inappropriately, a situation which I can imagine Brosh writing/drawing about. The cartoonish amplification by simplification of the visual elements of her storytelling contrasts and effectively emphasizes the rational puzzling tone of her prose while also distancing the author herself from the embarrassing undercurrent of what is essentially a series of personal confessions of eccentricity, over-reaction, and weakness. So much constant, pitiless self-deprecation should be unsettling to experience. But instead it’s endearing, poignant, and cathartically hilarious.

Everyone who reads Hyperbole and a Half will have their favourite stories. Certainly those focused on Brosh’s depression have a moving gravitas that comes out of nowhere, and her descriptions of her reactions to unexpected events are complex psychological readings that Freud might even find worthy. The bizarre tales from her childhood (in particular “The God of Cake” and “The Party”) are laugh riots, as are the stories about her simpleton dog and her over-aggressive, over-emotional rescue dog. The most kookily inspired for me, though, has to be “Dinosaur”, an odd, serendipitous satire of horror-movie convention that involves a goose invading Brosh’s house and causing unimaginable terror. “Dinosaur” in particular makes a solid argument for Hyperbole and a Half in book form, as Brosh produces new art to illustrate the narrative in imagetext rather than the more spartan blog form of her original post of the tale.

While it’s certainly possible to consider and produce informed readings of the blog form of Brosh’s work, its adaptation to literature focuses and strengthens its effects and pleasures. Far from constituting mere amateurish drawings and neurotic outpourings, Hyperbole and a Half has been embraced and adored by a larger audience because its brazen, warts-and-all honesty pulls the reader closer even while its suffusion of humour disguises this encroaching intimacy. It’s so much more than silly pictures and funny words; it’s personal, entertaining, meaningful art.

Good Old-Fashioned Wholesome Fun With Search Engine Terms #8

December 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Back by total lack of demand, it’s nobody’s favourite search engine term aggregation mockery post! Picked out ten good ones this time for your conspicuous dearth of enjoyment.

why does walter in the big lebowski like structure so much

Because the world’s gone crazy and he’s the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?

did allen iverson use physical prowess

That is a subtly important element of success in athletic competition, I would say.

norway bitches

The new Jay-Z/Kanye West single, built on a fiendishly catchy hardanger fiddle sample.

who in arcade fire is a mormon

I tells ya, that Donny Osmond is everywhere.

what farm in bob caygeon did tragically hip played

This one neither dispels the persistent stereotype of Hip fans as barely-literate hoser proles nor the lingering belief that the band’s famous ballad is actually about a guy named Bob Caygeon in whose body astronomical cohesion is achievable.

film about a psychopath killer meeting a girl at a bar and having a one night stand at her apartment singing “daisy i think i’m crazy”

Good pitch, friend. Did New Line Cinema option it?

will there be a second lone ranger movie

I’m not certain that you fully appreciate how these things function, friend.

meth prices how many seasons in breaking bad

I think he/she snuck in everything after the first two words just to throw off the cops.

ideological home of hockey

*whistle* That’ll be five minutes in the box for unsportsmanlike psychoanalytic deconstruction!

cloning rosslangager

I think one is enough, honestly. Maybe more than enough.

@Sidslang’s Best of Twitter #7

October 2, 2013 1 comment

@AccidentalP

Twitter accounts that aggregate based on themes are an underappreciated feature of the platform’s creative landscape. Usually the domain of programmed bots (Red Scare Bot is a good one, a parodic McCarthyite that leaps on any use of the words “socialism” or “communism”), there are nonetheless occasional curated accounts draw on existing tweets in order to construct some sort of running satiric commentary on one or more of Twitter’s multitude of parallel discourses.

This brings us to @AccidentalP, which searches Twitter and beyond (with some recommendations, suggestions, and frequent photo submissions from faithful followers) for discursive instances that suggest, in even the subtlest way, the predilections of Steve Coogan’s popular farcical English broadcaster, Alan Partridge. The focus of several television series and movies (including the recent Alpha Papa), Coogan’s Partridge is a cluelessly unctuous TV and radio personality (strongly suggesting the BBC’s legendarily sycophantic Terry Wogan) from Norfolk with plastered-on hair and smile. Although the Partridge character is largely an unknown quantity on this side of the Atlantic, it has proven resilient in its appeal in Britain, where the multi-talented Coogan has struggled to escape its shadow.

 Possessed of a dimly-justified confidence in his own interestingness and in the value of his blandly middle-of-the-road on-air opinions and observations, Partridge’s endurance as a comedic character likely has much to do with the consistent applicability of this persistent satirical model to changing cultural circumstances. @AccidentalP collects and retweets examples of this species of rhetoric, accompanied by the #AccidentalPartidge hashtag (or, more succintly, #AP, when limited character counts are of the essence). To be Accidental Partridged is to be implicitly criticized for indulging in insipid mainstream recirculation of clichés and lazy tropes that rise (or sink) to a comedic nature. Examples can be based on any aspect of everyday life, but those emphasizing any traditional descriptor of prototypical, square Britishness are particular favourites.

Though the account is not officially affiliated with the Partridge character, being selected for @AccidentalP retweets constitutes a fan-maintained continuation of the ongoing satiric project of Coogan’s iconic creation. This sort of interaction online between an entertainment product and its collaborative fanbase is always of some critical interest, particularly when the result is as consistently sharp and funny as @AccidentalP manages to be.

Representative Tweet:

Categories: Hilarity, Internet, Television

Good Old-Fashioned Wholesome Fun With Search Engine Terms #7

September 19, 2013 Leave a comment

Time for more headscratchers from the realm of search engine entries that directed websurfers to this blogspace. Done it before, will do it again. Go with eleven terms this time. Have at it.

bear man detective

I’m picturing a series of hardboiled detective novels featuring a grizzled grizzly gumshoe who solves crimes and mysteries entirely by catching salmon, rifling through garbage, and mauling anyone who crosses its path. So, basically, Maltese Falcon-era Humphrey Bogart only 8 feet tall and covered in fur. Kind of like this (a print by Portland artist Ryan Berkley):grizzly-bear-ryan-berkleyAmazing.

was trayvon martin good grades

The implication of this search is just too rich, especially with the crap grammar. But I can’t enjoy it all that much because an unarmed kid was shot dead by a pocket fascist who then walked. So.

rabid oxfordians

They do occasionally foam at the mouth during debates, but that might simply be due to retainers and/or lacklustre NHS dental care.

cancel us election during war

America is already permanently at war, guys. If Bush and Cheney didn’t find a way to cancel democracy, I doubt anyone will.

belgium shithole

From my own experience it is not a shithole, but I can make no definitive claim either way about the Walloon region, so let’s not be too categorical in contradicting the statement.

what party belongs of allpresidentof america

Beg pardon? Was your English teacher a charter member of the Tea Party, perchance?

blasphemous david beckham

I know he played for Manchester United and Real Madrid and that’s a middle finger to goodness and the righteous path, but cut the dude some slack, man.

what’s pedantic in brave new world

Wouldn’t answering that question with any degree of accuracy be inescapably pedantic in and of itself?

where can i find copy of symbol legend for disney’s little fluttering friends quilt

I did not understand any of that which followed “copy of”, but I can assure you that you must have taken a wrong turn somewhere between Pinterest and Epcot Center.

when is foreshadowing used in the devil in the white city

Um… before the shadow?

god is a badass

Pshaw. Vishnu could totally take him with three arms tied behind his back.

@Sidslang’s Best of Twitter #6

August 20, 2013 Leave a comment

@Schama_ebooks & @zizek_ebooks

One of Twitter’s underappreciated glories is that it manufactures its own ephemeral context, moment by moment. Those who expend their 140 characters establishing where they’ve been, what they’ve been doing, and how they’re feeling about it are missing the point, or one very specific part of the point, of the medium. Twitter is not a rolling Facebook status update with arbitrary limitations of brevity. Whatever you write on Twitter, it is there to be seen, enjoyed or not enjoyed, for that minute fraction of time, fading with time but (with the archive in full effect) never vanishing.

It’s a discursive realm ideally adapted to what might flippantly be entitled “randomness”, and what we might with a bit more consideration call bursts of semi-public out-of-context rhetoric. Twitter shows its own hand; is the word “wit” not nestled snugly in the midst of its name, after all? With the mass spread of the format, the wit at the soul of its brevity has been diminished. But it’s still there if you know where to look, and doesn’t need to be contextualized by the latest pop cultural or current events happenings, either. It doesn’t even need to be intended for the medium by its original utterers.

One of Twitter’s earliest phenomenons demonstrated this privileging of serendipitous non-sequiturs, and two of its best academically-tilted typify its effect. @Horse_ebooks became a widely-followed account when its gnomic and often fragmentary tweets (drawn from equine literature) gained fans for their bizarre and seemingly accidental wisdom or simple quirky unintended comedy. A proliferation of similar “ebooks” accounts has followed, on every conceivable subject and theme.

Anyone in tune with the Twitter scene follows a few of these at least. My two personal favourites feature excerpts from two of academia’s most prominent and peculiar public voices. @zizek_ebooks posts snatches of the thoughts of philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek, he of the voluble, lisping Slovenian accent, salt-and-pepper beard, and Lacanian-Marxist intellectual trolling. Despite the ebooks suffix, most of these tweets seem to be drawn from his lectures, television appearances, and films, The Pervert’s Guide To Cinema and The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. Although Žižek is a fascinating communicator of ideas (whatever you think of the ideas themselves), being fed his observations absent the arguments that they are a part of is a whole different kind of experience that is rewarding and funny in its own right (even if the postings tend to happen in overwhelming spurts, obviously released in gaps of the custodian’s free time). Certain rhetorical usages recur (“My God”, “Eat this garbage”, “You turn into monkeys”), revealing go-to phrases preferred by Žižek in public speech that might otherwise has slipped by unnoticed, but the dislocated, non-sequiturial nature of the tweets matches the thinker’s own message of deconstruction, as well as amplifying the peculiarity of the stand-alone phrases.

A similar practice animates @Schama_ebooks, although the account tweeting out snatches of verbose narration from the television documentaries of the British historian Simon Schama has its own particular appeal as well. This appeal is also Schama’s, grounded in his habit of expressing relatively straightforward and widely-accepted interpretations of historical events in language of over-the-top vocabulatory eloquence. Although the less-followed account has not produced as much material as the prolific @zizek_ebooks, it evokes Schama’s rhetorical turns much more vividly. The background of the account homepage, a screen still of Schama with a (accidental?) couplet of ridiculous quasi-poetry (“human existence” is rhymed with “luminescence”) sums up his choice of verbiage succinctly, but the archive of “quiescent marital urges” and “throngs of unwashed cavaliers” makes it clearer what the account is about. Both of these ebooks prisms of public intellectual quotations rip words and arguments out of their chosen contexts to be placed in Twitter’s own “random” context, and wring humour out of them while preserving the rhetorical kernels of their unique set of expressions. Who says this medium is limited in its discursive scope?

Representative Tweets:

Good Old-Fashioned Wholesome Fun with Search Engine Terms #6

June 3, 2013 1 comment

Time flies when you’re blogging excessively. It’s been a whole four months since the last post reproducing and larking on the oddest recent search terms that directed web surfers to this humble space, so we’re about due to for another installment. Past posts of this sort: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5.

lebron james violin

Playing the violin is probably the one thing LeBron James cannot do. Well, that and choose a team to sign with in a way that won’t alienate most of the world.

nbc condescending olympic coverage

The first result in the search is the NBC website: Proudly Condescending to Olympics-Watching Rubes Since 1988!

who is the subaltern in the hunger games

Now you’re asking the right question, kids. The answer is: pretty much everyone who isn’t played by Donald Sutherland.

rape ewok meme

I don’t even want to know what other results this search produced, but I suspect they involve some rather disturbing things being done to Jar Jar Binks.

poofter definition

Oh, behave.

is thrift shop about consumerism

At least as much as it is about the paradox of frugality. And broken keyboards.

is it possible for another king leopold today yahoo answer

Why would you think Yahoo is gonna know that? Anyway, no one else could rock that beard.

what was the last film roger ebert saw

In a terribly cruel bit of irony, it was Spice World.

fanfiction reparation thor

The socioeconomic deprivations suffered throughout history by the Space Vikings constituted a considerable injustice indeed. But how will belated monetary compensation heal such deep wounds, especially when interspersed with passionate and imaginative Thor/Loki sex scenes?

doukhobor leprechaun

If ye allow me to practice me pacifist, spiritualist faith without suffering state persecution or exile, I shall give ye me pot of gold!

why is back to the future college film analysis

The person who typed up this complete thought took my review to task for its criticism of conservative Republican ideology. I think they were just disappointed that there wasn’t anything to plagiarize for their first-year essay.

best asses of the world

Here you go. What great asses. We salute you!

wholesome internet search

I hope this pulled up “Two Girls, One Cup” in the first three pages of results. Most searches will.

@Sidslang’s Best of Twitter #4

February 23, 2013 1 comment

More recommended Twitter feeds for your consideration and consumption. Previous iterations: the first, second, third. @Sidslang can be examined and judged and found wanting here.

@TheBig_Sam

Parody accounts have populated Twitter like a multiplying brood of satiric spiders, but the true champs of the form leap off from the parodic target’s stereotyped qualities into inventive brilliance. Witness, therefore, an exhibit of this craft at its highest level with this parody feed focusing on English Premier League football manager Sam Allardyce. Currently helming West Ham United, the voluble Allardyce (nicknamed “Big Sam” for his physical size as well as expansive personality) is as well-known for his lusty, outspoken public image as he is for his managing prowess, which has mostly been burned away on second-tier clubs.

@TheBig_Sam, though infrequently updated, leaps off from this base on flights of inspired and often explicit creative riffing on not only current developments for his club or in the game, but also in the world at large. His discourse is rather Brit-centric, understandably, and an outsider to the island’s culture often required a quick Google search or two to gain the measure of the references. But the effort is ever rewarded; once you’re all caught up, it’s ripping stuff.

Multi-tweet bursts detailing with comically-reimagined figures that “Big Sam” encounters are true highlights. Scroll through the tweet archive for his befriending of Swansea’s Danish manager Michael Laudrup on February 3rd (they share a Toblerone after a game between their clubs, and Laudrup invites his counterpart over to his place to “watch ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and have some Mai Tais”) or West Ham player Matty Taylor telling him on December 7th of last year that he found a bird that closely resembled a disappeared rock star.

To be truthful, the completely inspired litany of tweets about prominent British Conservative politician Michael Heseltine from today (Feb. 22, 2013) forced my hand on this point of recommendation, it must be said. Proceeding from an off-colour quip about South African amputee runner Oscar Pistorius’ artificial legs to a nighttime stroll with Heseltine during which “Big Sam” watched Heseltine “hold the moon in his hands, and orchestrate the stars”, it’s a perfect distillation of @TheBig_Sam’s imaginative, crude, and killer comic method.

Representative Tweet:

Good Old-Fashioned Wholesome Fun with Search Engine Terms #5

February 8, 2013 1 comment

It’s that time again: I need new content but don’t feel like writing 2000 words about Oilers second-line wingers. So! I shall post some of the strangest search terms that have directed internet surfers to these parts. Past entries: #1, #2, #3, #4. Call this #5.

guy fieri twat

That’s a touch harsh, isn’t it? Okay, maybe not.

i find your lack of progress disturbing

Darth Vader gives quarterly employee evaluations. Force-choke layoffs likely to follow.

virulent smile

Before travelling to happy places, be sure to arrange an anti-grinning innoculation.

jeremy lin oil painting

Googled that myself, and found this. Glorious. Too bad he’s a Rocket now and the Knicks are better without him.

abraham lincoln vampire hunter fanfic jack barts

For those who kept their essential dignity and steered clear of the summer’s B-movie pinnacle, Jack Barts is the sashaying slave-owning vampire who first runs afoul of young Abe and his family and steers the future President towards his youthful vampire-hunting calling. Later, they face each other down and throw horses at each other. Fanfic cannot be weirder than that, try as it might. Defused, as it were.

old picture of white males voting

So, any election photos from before 1970 or so, then. Or, in the case of Saskatchewan, from the last election.

dope trolls hobbit

Dope-smoking trolls are maybe the only off-colour, tonally incongruent joke that Peter Jackson didn’t do in that movie.

god is a badass

That pretty much sums up Milton, doesn’t it?

big fat dumb viking comic strip character

Somewhere in the fjords, Hagar the Horrible sits in the prow of his longship, clutching his knees, tears soaking his beard. You have done this.

amitabh bachchan stand in coat pant

Yeah, this is incoherent. But it did make me realize that Jewish gangster Meyer Wolfsheim is being played by an Indian Bollywood vet in Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby. Which raises the eyebrows yet another millimetre.

best male bums 2012

Best asses of last year, or best hobos of last year? Either way, I would direct you to alternate precincts.

the most random picture on the internet

Here’s my vote:

guineapigsbikes

All Your Votes Are Belong To Us: The 2012 Presidential Election’s Internet Meme War

November 12, 2012 2 comments

When U.S. President Barack Obama defeated his Republican challenger Mitt Romney for America’s top job last Tuesday, analysis and prognosis was offered from all media quarters and beyond. With the presidential campaign as long, as complex, and as all-saturating as it is, there were plenty of potential causes for and reasons behind the result to consider in detail. The natural electoral advantage enjoyed by any incumbent President was surely part of it, especially in the campaign’s waning days when a historic weather disaster allowed Obama to demonstrate executive authority and the cool effectiveness under pressure that has characterized his foreign policy but has not often found similar outlets domestically. The ground organization and volunteer infrastructure of Obama’s Democratic Party appears to have outflanked Romney’s as well, turning out its base in greater numbers and not suffering the disastrous technical collapse that the Republicans’ prized vote-tracking app ORCA did on Election Day.

Perhaps more fundamental was the GOP’s dogged ideological insistence on alienating every voting demographic outside of white males, alarming Hispanics with immigration-related xenophobia, women with tone-deaf comments on abortion and rape, and African-Americans with the racially-charged framing of their attacks on the first black President. One dominant note in the coverage of Obama’s win (which was, Electoral-College-wise, a bit of a landslide, it must be said) was to emphasize the demographic sea-change represented by the 2012 Election, in which a diverse coalition was brought together in opposition to the Republican Party’s Southern and Midwestern rural white bloc. Although this new multicultural reality is one that the GOP will need to come to terms with rather than continuing to aggressively reject if it is to becoming relevant as a governing party again, it’s not the entire story of this election.

The same conservative counter-revolutionary tendencies that led the GOP’s ideologues to frighten and irritate the various non-white minorites, young voters, and women (the latter, after all, constitute a majority in America) blazed a path to rejecting various important elements of American culture (Hollywood movies, public television, etc.) which hamstrung their attempts to turn the discourse in their favour. To some extent, the narrative arc of the election saw Romney’s central claim of upgrading economic competence in the Oval Office slowly evaporate as he appeared less consistent and competent as the campaign wore on (he lost the last two debates decisively after breezing past a lackadaisical President in the first one, and his surrogates from VP nominee Paul Ryan on down to Tea Party-friendly Senate candidates made poor accounts of themselves too). This was partially due to the strength of the various body blows to his temperment and views made by Obama and the Democrats (and some self-inflicted shots, too, like the infamous 47% video), but also due to the epistemic closure of the echo-chamber right wing discourse, where meanness and negativity coexisted uncomfortably with soft-focus propagandistic distortions of the American character and priorities.

An illuminating case study on this effect, or this lack of effect from the Republican perspective, can be descried in a helpfully summarized account of the internet memes of the 2012 presidential election from Know Your Meme, an organ of the I Can Has Cheezburger/FAILblog corpus that tracks and documents the ephemeral tangents of Internet culture. Both sides in the campaign attempted to purposely employ social media and its viral potential to their benefit at certain points: the Romney campaign released apps (one of which included a much-mocked typo) and appears to have artificially raised the number of followers of his Twitter account in July to ridiculous levels, while the Obama team released a much-pariodied online slideshow comparing his policies with those of his opponent and crafted the quickly-discarded catchphrase and hashtag “Romnesia” to tag the former Massachusetts Governor for his convenient finessing of past stands on the issues.

But the defining memes of the campaign were obviously not the ones curated by political consultants and campaign strategists. They were the spontaneous memes, sparked by notable occurences in the campaign and spread on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and various other internet gathering points. Sometimes these memes had ideological targets or partisan underpinnings (like the Mansplaining Paul Ryan meme or the Obama-attacking You Didn’t Build That, which was the conceptual heart of the GOP Convention), but just as often they didn’t, instead grasping at a random moment of strangeness or comedy amidst the otherwise dour policy talk of the debates in particular.

In this corner of the electoral battle, it is clear that the Democrats won a thumping victory. Witness the most memorable memes that targetted, in one way or another, Romney and the GOP when compared to those that the Republicans and their operatives and supporters used against the Democrats. There was Binders Full of Women, a meme whose perpetrators leapt on Romney’s awkward phrasing in the second debate concerning employment equality initiatives during his gubernatorial days (which turned out to be a fib anyway) to create a surreal new expression of patriarchal limitations on female employees. Fired Big Bird, arising from Romney’s pledge to cut funding to PBS in the first debate, grounded the cruelty of proposed Republican spending cuts in a commonly-adored childhood touchstone. And Horses and Bayonets emphasized a moment of powerful snark from Obama (whose presidential humour is among the sharpest of the past media-driven century) that established his foreign policy mastery over Romney in the final debate while also offering rich opportunity for comic anachronism.

Truth be told, I had never even heard of the competing conservative memes before reading through Know Your Meme’s compilation of the election’s viral fodder (perhaps as a result of my own epistemic closure). But it must be said that they are not impressive. Where the liberal-tilted memes discussed above effectively bring some objectionable policy position into sharper relief by connecting it to a comical concept, the conservative ones of note are little more than outbursts of abusive belligerence against a President and a party that they resent with primal, pre-logical fervour.

Take Laughing Joe Biden, which referenced the Vice President’s quietly devastating amusement at Paul Ryan’s earnestly libertarian expressions of policy positions during their debate. While certain image macros go for the surreal and the non-ideological (I like the one of Biden as Mortal Kombat character), most others that criticize Biden’s laughter do so from a vicious and insulting place, calling him stupid (a popular view on the right that Biden had just dispelled convincingly in front of a national audience) and making dark associations between him and the Joker (a menacing comparison that has also been infamously but ambiguously applied to Obama).

Or, alternately, one can consider the troubling Obama the Eater of Dogs meme, cooked up by the racist dog-whistling demagogues at Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller from an excerpt in Obama’s Dreams of My Father concerning the young future President eating dog with his stepfather in Indonesia. Intended as a response to the story of Romney’s former family dog being strapped in his carrier to the roof of the car for a 12-hour roadtrip, the meme fed into feverish conservative prejudice against Obama’s international origins, and pushed the far right conception of the President as somehow an inherently un-American figure. Humour of this mean and xenophobic type does not tend to go viral because it offends more than it appeals, and it is not an effective political messaging tool because it has no political message outside of the paranoid, closed-minded resentment of difference. In this way, however, these memes constitute a succinct example of the similar paucity of significant ideas at the heart of contemporary American conservatism.

It may seem frivolous to focus on something as inherent disposable as internet memes to shed light on an election result, but then political campaigns are every bit as disposable as these memes, and often enough just as frivolous as well. Simply because the final result of an election can have serious and wide-reaching consequences on governing policy and national direction does not mean that the process of winning those results does not slip into silliness and lowest-common-denominator appeals as often as not. With the campaign discourse so often conducted at this level, internet memes are not necessarily discursively dissonant. Indeed, they often contribute to the harmony of political messaging. The American conservative movement’s conscious decades-old decision to turn their collective backs on popular culture bore fruit on November 6th, in this way. And that fruit, like the Republican Party’s ideological and moral heart, was revealed to be rotten at the core. Did this decide the election? No, but any ocean of defeat is a multitude of drops, and this drop left swiftly-spreading ripples.