There are millions of memes on the internet. If you have been reading articles published on Skabash! recently, you must know that we have covered a number of them. Today, we are going to talk about the trending Dark Brandon.
Another election campaign season is fast approaching in the United States of America. Already, both the Republican and Democrat parties are gearing towards presenting their candidates, especially for the office of the President. The current U.S. president, Joe Biden, has already declared his interest to run for a second term. Thus, the “Dark Brandon” meme began to trend.
What exactly is the Dark Brandon? You may ask. Let us find out.
What is Dark Brandon?
Dark Brandon made an appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. pic.twitter.com/lNfWrNXj0i
— President Biden (@POTUS) April 30, 2023
Dark Brandon refers to the meme of America’s president, Joe Biden, hooting red lasers from his eyes or wearing military gear. The meme began to trend in early 2022 after the president declared his intention to run for a second term in 2024. The meme was created by anti-Biden supporters to mock the president for his policies.
Ironically, the Democrats and the president himself embraced the meme and transformed it into an important symbol of his 2024 presidential campaign.
Dark Brandon meme
SPOTTED on the new Biden presidential campaign website’s 404 page: Dark Brandon. pic.twitter.com/NkIfv9xMVq
— Eugene Daniels (@EugeneDaniels2) April 25, 2023
The Dark Brandon meme began as an anti-Biden rhetoric but it has since been transformed and reinterpreted by Biden’s supporters. According to The Independent, the Dark Brandon was inspired by “Dark MAGA” memes, depicting an authoritarian Donald Trump with laser-like eyes and often with explicit calls for the former president to take revenge on his political enemies.
The “Dark MAGA” meme was created by far-right Trump supporters in 2021. Hence, the Dark Brandon became the right-wing caricature of the 80-year-old president which ironically transformed America’s number 1 citizen into a demi-god figure.
A visit to Biden’s official campaign website now shows the site’s 404 (page not found) landing page serving a “Dark Brandon” Easter egg and pointing people towards a special “Dark” campaign T-shirt emblazoned with the Brandon image. The T-shirt, which is captioned, “best worn while vanquishing Malarkey”, is sold for $32.
“Let’s get you back on the rails,” the page says, with Mr Biden blasting the user with his red eyes. The Independent explained that the phrase is possibly a reference to Biden’s affection for Amtrak, which he used heavily while serving as a senator representing Delaware for 36 years before he became the U.S. vice president.
According to Aja Romano, a culture reporter for Vox, who has written about the “Dark Brandon” meme, the meme is helping to transform the public’s perception of the president from a bland to an exciting and cool figure.
“Biden’s embrace of the Dark Brandon meme shows not only an awareness of the meme and what it represents to many of his followers but self-awareness of how the meme livens and rejuvenates his public persona,” Romano told NPR.
Romano added: “Especially as he gears up for a difficult reelection, look for him to lean even more into the ‘Dark Brandon’ meme on social media as a way of galvanizing supporters online.”
Origin of Dark Brandon
Dark Brandon’s origin can be traced to a NASCAR race. NASCAR is an acronym for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, an American auto racing sanctioning and operating company that is best known for stock car racing.
In October 2021, NASCAR racer, Brandon Brown was interviewed by NBC after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. During the interview, the crowd chanted “F— Joe Biden” in the background, to which the reporter doing the interview interpreted the chants as “Let’s go Brandon”. The clip of the interview went viral and “Let’s go Brandon” became a not-so-secret code for “F— Joe Biden”. The phrase then began trending everywhere, including in Congress.
It is not clear who created the Dark Brandon meme. According to Vox, some sources claim that Dark Brandon began as an ironic far-right meme made by extreme conservatives who dislike Biden, moulding him in their aesthetic. Others claim the meme was the creation of “snarky leftists” repurposing the Dark MAGA memes to ironically express their disdain for Biden.
Some also claim that it was the creation of leftists attempting to ironically mock Trump and his supporters by making their version of the right’s “hypermasculine” memes. There was a rumour that the meme was created by Chinese propagandists, thanks to Yang Quan, an artist on the Chinese social app, Weibo, who drew propaganda art depicting Biden as the Game of Thrones-esque ruler of a horde of undead zombies.
Either way, Dark Brandon was initially created to mock Biden and his policies. The American president was perceived to be incompetent. However, things changed following the successful drone strike on al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri in August 2022. Hence, Biden went from a “creaky, besieged, chronically ineffective Delawarean” to a superhero vanquishing America’s enemies with his figurative laser eyes.
If you are curious to know if Biden is aware of the Dark Brandon joke, he is. On April 29, 2023, the president made it clear he has embraced it during the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner speech. Introducing comedian Roy Wood Jr., Biden said: “Roy, the podium is yours. I’m going to be fine with your jokes, but I’m not sure about Dark Brandon.” Then he put on a pair of sunglasses, which sparked cheers and applause from the crowd.
The 2020 presidential election campaign has shown that American politics can be dirty. Already the 2024 election promises to be surrounded by drama. It is already happening, as evidenced by the Dark Brandon among others.
President Biden and the Democrats have embraced the Dark Brandon meme, which was originally meant to undermine the former’s competence. Republicans and other political opponents will have to think of something else. For now, Biden the “Dark Brandon” remains America’s laser-eyed superhero.