每日跟讀#704: United We Stan: How the Internet Merged Pop Culture and Politics
Whatever persona Elizabeth Warren hopes to project in her presidential campaign, it is probably not that of a child witch. But that is the persona that some of her biggest fans have chosen for her.
Images of Hermione Granger, played in the “Harry Potter” films by a young Emma Watson, materialize at Warren’s every move. Warren steps onto the debate stage, and her fans craft tweets where Hermione stands in as her, rolling her eyes at the boys in wizarding class. Warren reads the whole Mueller report, and Hermione smugly wags her wand. In one extremely cursed tweet with zero likes, Warren’s face is transplanted onto Hermione’s frame, posed alongside Beto O’Rourke as Harry and Pete Buttigieg as Ron Weasley.
What is this strange chimera of presidential campaigning: a candidate’s head on pop culture’s body? It is the product of a great convergence between politics and culture, citizenship and commerce, ideology and aesthetics. Civic participation has been converted seamlessly into consumer practice. It is democracy reimagined as fandom, and it is now a dominant mode of experiencing politics.
You can see it in the efforts to sort the candidates into “Harry Potter” houses, converting the election to a personality quiz in a children’s book, and in the mashup video that distills the 2020 candidates into quotes from Michael Scott, the buffoonish boss of “The Office.”
A photograph of three congresswomen of color is published and instantly compared to a Whitney Houston GIF, as if women interrogating Michael Cohen are analogous to Houston confronting her cheating boyfriend. Politicos of all stripes are styled as saints and stamped onto novelty devotional prayer candles.
Here, political engagement slips easily into the habits of consumption. President Donald Trump’s fans follow him around the country like groupies, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s boosters fetishize her funnel-neck coat as a symbol of the #resistance.
Candidates’ supporters now identify as stans — a term derived from the 2000 Eminem song about a fan who becomes so obsessed, he kills.
Political stanning has a way of remapping the landscape of mainstream politics — maybe even overwriting physical reality itself. Frantic online cultural production swarms around Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg whenever she experiences a health scare, as if memes alone could sustain the octogenarian’s life.
Trump’s fans imbue him with improbable prowess when they edit him into pro-wrestling videos showing him smacking down CNN. But perhaps the most explicit riff on the trend was the infamous Beto O’Rourke sex tweet, which translated his political positions into sexual ones.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/345410/web/
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