Can Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash Swing the Election?
The Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash Facebook page has more than 294K members.
With over 294,000 members, Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash is indicative of Bernie Sanders' control of the high-level internet. (A dank stash of memes is a collection of high-level memes.) The Facebook group continues to generate memes for Bernie supporters that transcend the traditional media coverage of their beloved Presidential candidate. The memes are explanatory, deconstructive, self-aware, and incendiary.
Bernie Sanders meme producers are creating content that resonates beyond the deepest niches of Reddit. This fuels the intrigue and growing popularity of the dank stash. Some of the memes are so high-level that they deserve the label 'dank af.' When you join the Facebook group, memes in support of Bernie Sanders will bombard your feed. Bernie will become the center of your universe. If you've already fallen in love with his plans to break up the big banks and bring back democracy, then you will love these high-level memes that weave Bernie into today's cultural fabric. Every dank meme is a love letter to Bernie Sanders, and his image is the presence we need to make sense of the digital chaos of today.
Now that was a dank meme. Sure, this video is incredibly dank. It's quite a high-level meme made by an internet prosumer. The question is: Does dankness translate to electability? Sure, as a self-identifying progressive (and progressive internet user), I can speak the language of the dank meme. But when it comes to non-Millennial demographics (who can be counted on to vote in primaries and general elections), perhaps the dankness of these memes could make Bernie Sanders seems unapproachable to those who prefer memes curated by their local radio station's Facebook page. The demand for so much commentary inside of one dank meme will only be interpreted as 'spectacle,' and the substance of the meme as a micro-art piece will not be fully appreciated.
It feels like Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash is more of a safe haven for those who need reinforcement from non-Establishment media streams
I am so intrigued by the content and community voice of Bernie Sanders' Dank Meme Stash and will frequently load the Facebook group to maximize my consumption of Bernie news, letting the community-curated propaganda soothe my newly converted Democratic Socialist mind. Bernie's dank memes begin in the stash, and are shared to amuse or annoy outsiders. These memes can be subjected to the same backlash cycles of most internet content. Racism, sexism, ageism, and other discriminatory angles could easily be applied to the stash by a stash-outsider or dissenter.
The Dank Meme Stash admins do their best to keep it positive. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the commentary on Bernie Sanders, much like you are welcome onboard Bernie's Revolution wagon. #BernieBros, the voice of male Sanders supporters who use hostile or sexist terms to cut down Hillary Clinton, are often banned or berated in the comments, and many memes don't get through the screening process of dankness. Any memes that are sexist, racist, or make a personal attack on Hillary Clinton will not be approved. The Dank Meme Stash must be a positive reflection on the campaign of Bernie Sanders.
The challenges of Bernie Sanders' Dank Meme Stash mirror those of any internet community. As the community grows, there is a demand for more content. More memes come, but quality can suffer. More 'trolls' can come to 'hate' in the comments. More time must be spent policing threads that get out of hand. There are more critics lamenting the quality of the content and direction of community, while many "original members"—people who were on board before polls indicated that Bernie was a viable Presidential candidate—can lament the good ol' days when the community was much more authentically dank.
The definition of dankness is somewhat fluid. Urban Dictionary defines it as "an expression used by stoners and hippies for something of high quality," but it's not very dank to use Urban Dictionary as a method of comprehending youth culture terms. Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash has brought 'dank' to the forefront of positive buzzwords, challenging words like 'cool' and 'chill.' Dank is something that is so positive that it is undefinable. It is also likely to include weed, television, movie, and fast-casual dining option jokes.
Dank memes acknowledge our immersion in the digital economy of culture. Memes are the communicative medium. Dankness is the genuine spirit of the content, leaping off the screen and crawling into your soul.
Bernie Sanders has been touted as the internet's candidate, but it's still hard to tell if the internet a place where contemporary 'grassroots' movements happen any more. There are two simultaneous conservative and liberal internets happening concurrently anyways.
Sure, dank memes show that a segment of the base is 'charged up.' But is that truly converting supporters? It feels like Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash is more of a safe haven for those who need reinforcement from non-Establishment media streams to believe that Bernie Sanders' candidacy is truly viable. Proof beyond the latest angle from a statistical content farm or piece from an economic theorist who may or may not be right about Sanders' proposed plans.
Dank memeing isn't always easy, even for the dankest of meme makers. After narrow losses in Nevada and Iowa, it's easy to wonder how exactly this trendworthy page can mobilize to do even more than 'create awareness' amongst those who were likely to identify with the candidate anyways. Tangible political action might not be an outcome of a dank meme stash. Self-aware, entertaining internet humor for a disenfranchised generation intrigued by a man who is explaining that societal and governmental forces may be screwing them over might be the only real outcome.
This is the problem with 'niche' on the internet. It has a ceiling, and at a point can become an insular cycle. Broad appeal comes from marginalizing the message and reaching audiences that you never thought you could identify with. The community/website/Facebook group feels less dank, but if the goal is electing the next President of the United States, the message will continue to morph.
As Bernie Sanders moves forward, earning every delegate he can in the slow march towards the Democratic party nomination, we will at the very least get to watch the community-generated meme play a bigger role in politics and media narratives. The Dank Meme Stash itself will become a deep well of content that outgrows the functionality of a Facebook group. It will be a wall of noise, with endless comment threads making it blend into the meaninglessness of most internet content. Without 24/7 curation, the group will not look like the stash of premium dank memes that it once did to those who just want to believe in Bernie Sanders.
Any broadly appealing Presidential candidate will rely upon traditional methods like phone banking and block walking. Money will be spent on radio and television ads. There will not be a premium dank meme fund, beyond whoever curates a candidate's Twitter feed with glossy images and quotes. The forces that Bernie Sanders tells us he is fighting against will probably just control the democratic process anyways. And eventually, members of the Dank Meme Stash will have to decide if it is dank to actually physically participate in the political process instead of chilling hard in the digital malaise of a Facebook group.
Life on the Content Farm is a weekly column about internet media written by the last relevant blogger.