As Election Day approaches, the United States appears to be splitting at the seams. Issues pertaining to basic necessities, like the right to vote or the postal system, have become polarized. As protests erupt across the nation against increasing police brutality, the country needs to see a sense of unity in its government in order to heal. And while the Democratic National Convention is widely touted for appealing to the common man reeling from Trump’s America, the Republican National Convention, or RNC, provided the fuel for a ton of memes.
The week prior to the RNC, the Democratic Party hosted its own convention. With guest speakers ranging from Michelle Obama to a security guard that fangirled over Joe Biden in an elevator, voters were shown a party that remains strong despite media attacks. In the days leading up to the RNC, however, people were not thrilled to hear the Republican side.
In the past months alone, the Trump administration refused to act on the coronavirus pandemic. Now, there are over 6 million cases in the United States. Additionally, briefings over the course of the past few years have resulted in journalist-bashing and controversial statements. People anticipated the convention to reflect the Republicans’ divisive politics.
In fact, before the first night even commenced, memes started flooding Twitter. “Yeah I’m watching the RNC – Random Nicholas Cage movies,” Twitter user Mick Marley said. Then, the actual ceremonies started.
Yeah I’m watching the RNC, Random Nicholas Cage movies
— Lil’ Spooky Boy 👻 (@Mick_Marley) August 25, 2020
On day one, Trump advisor Kimberly Guilfoyle delivered a speech praising President Trump. As she spoke about the nation being brainwashed by Democrats, she projected her voice louder and louder.
As she did so, her speech took on a grave tone. “They want to destroy this country and everything we have fought for and hold dear. They want to steal your liberty, your freedom! Don’t let the Democrats take you for granted!” Guilfoyle said. “Don’t let them step on you. Don’t let them destroy your families, your lives and your future! Don’t let them kill future generations because they told you and brainwashed you and fed you lies that you weren’t good enough!”
Now imagine her fire and brimstone speech echoing back as she stands alone behind a podium. From her dramatic flair, hair raising sound and doomsday-esque monologue, her speech could be likened to that of a Disney villain. It hinged on the idea of fear-mongering. Despite the technique used by the orator, the internet was not intimidated by her speech. The second after it aired, the memeing began.
The same image of Guilfoyle in her red dress and head back as she appears to shout circulated with captions like “WHY IS SHE SCREAMING.” Many made side by side comparisons showing Guilfoyle next to characters like Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” as well as the villain Rita Repulsa from “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah tweeted Guilfoyle’s name and then linked his tweet to one from singer and actress Lady Gaga saying, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHRHRGRGRGRRRGURBHJB EORWPSOJWPJORGWOIRGWSGODEWPGOHEPW09GJEDPOKSD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!0924QU8T63095JRGHWPE09UJ0PWHRGW.” Others agreed, saying that the transcript was spot on.
Kimberly Guilfoyle: https://t.co/UKOmoqOYbr
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) August 25, 2020
Another meme that circulated pertained to First Lady Melania Trump’s outfits during the RNC. As she gave her speech on the third night, she was shown sporting a collared outfit. Upon first glance her outfit didn’t seem like anything special. It was an army green military jacket with boxy shoulders and a matching pencil skirt. The outfit itself screamed a stoic, military style, but was not out of place in terms of the usual killer stilettos and military wear she dons.
Still, the internet took to making a meme out of her. Posts online compared her to various military despots, like Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. It was through these initial memes that media sites began to delve into the meaning of the outfit, which has sparked debate. It could be that she wore the outfit simply because she liked it. Others propose that the outfit shows a hypocrisy found in the Republican party platform. As she calls for peace, especially for the sake of America’s children, her military outfit says otherwise.
Melania Trump had the privilege to be made a meme not once, but twice during the RNC. On the last night, as she walked arm in arm with President Donald Trump, Melania wore a neon green dress with a pink belt. Now those who became Photoshop masters during quarantine took the opportunity to use her dress as a green screen.
In one meme, her green dress showed statistics concerning the death rates due to coronavirus in the United States. Another showed blurbs pertaining to climate change. “Late Night with Stephen Colbert” even got in on the meme, changing her dress to say Black Lives Matter. These three instances indicate the political commentary memes can provide. Melania is being made to wear a dress broadcasting issues that the current administration either ignored or failed to address in time.
The RNC threaded the theme of law and order through its four nights. There seemed to be a reality show aspect to it, with President Trump breaking protocol and actually having a naturalization process done live on TV. The group of new United States citizens included demographics he has been against in the past, like Muslims and just women in general. From all the aggressive speeches, simply unfactual information and shocking acts, the RNC left viewers shocked.
Memes acted as a coping mechanism to deal with the misinformation. For instance, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York claimed in her speech that President Trump’s impeachment in January was illegal. This, of course, is not true, as the appropriate government steps were taken to bring his charges from the courts to the House of Representatives to where it was blocked by the Senate. Instead of focusing on the lies told with confidence, viewers at home chose to take a break from the constant bloodshed. Instead, they used memes to poke fun, raise points and bring some online unity in these divisive times.