I Never Want to See the ‘Dark Brandon’ Meme Again
Joe Biden’s official Twitter shared the viral meme at a wildly tone-deaf time Sunday night, and the joke is officially dead.Photo: Twitter/@JoeBiden Politics
A good meme is like lightning in the bottle—timing and context (or, sometimes, lack of context) are everything, and the wrong person joining in on the fun can ruin it all. Case in point: Joe Biden’s official Twitter account posting the Dark Brandon meme with the caption, “Just like we drew it up,” on Sunday night. This was intended as a cheeky response to the Chiefs’ Super Bowl comeback and the right’s obsession with casting Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s relationship as a liberal psy op. But the post came at precisely the same time that Israeli forces attacked the Rafah evacuation zone in Gaza (after Palestinians were told Rafaf would be a safe zone), massacring dozens of civilians in a single day. Meanwhile, that same night, the U.S. Senate voted to send billions more in military aid to Israel, all as the Biden administration continues to stand with Israel despite over 28,000 Palestinians being killed in four months. And, somehow, Biden’s campaign thought Sunday was the right time for some online humor.
As a refresher, the Dark Brandon meme—which is just Joe Biden but with glowing red eyes—originated around 2021, shortly after the right ran with its juvenile “Let’s Go Brandon” code that translates to something like “Fuck You Biden.” Biden supporters and terminally online liberals and progressives, in general, co-opted the derogatory “Brandon” moniker and created the progressive rebel “Dark Brandon” to both mock the right and celebrate policy achievements from the Biden administration. Biden’s team acknowledged and wielded the joke a few times before Sunday, including last summer when his campaign used the meme to blitz Fox News’ website with abortion rights ads ahead of the first Republican debate.
But tone-deaf doesn’t even begin to describe Biden using the meme on Sunday. I can’t really even wrap my head around knowing that the majority of the American electorate is pleading for a ceasefire, and giving us, instead, a…tepid pop culture meme. For all intents and purposes, the Dark Brandon meme is over. In fact, hours after Biden’s attempt at humor, the Associated Press reported a staggering Monday morning milestone: At least 12,300 Palestinian children in Gaza have been killed by Israeli forces, all while starvation, disease, and Israel’s blockade on Gaza inevitably threaten the lives of thousands more. https://twitter.com/letsgomathias/status/1756898850114040183
The Rafah attack on Sunday was especially brutal, as displaced Palestinians in the area had nowhere to flee amid what can only really be described as ethnic cleansing at this point. And photos and videos of the horrific attacks on Rafah spread far and wide online, as witnesses of the attacks say they saw children and the elderly lose their limbs. Still, Biden’s team somehow convinced itself we’d all get a good kick out of our very hip 81-year-old president ~owning~ Fox News and joking about Tayvis.
The response to Biden’s Sunday tweet has been deservedly brutal. “White House staffer: (as US bombs dismember kids in Rafah) ‘if the Chiefs win don’t forget to send out the Dark Brandon meme abt Taylor & Travis,’ one quote-tweet reads. Another user quote-tweeted the AP’s count of 12,300 dead Palestinian children with a screenshot of Biden’s Dark Brandon tweet: “Just like we drew it up.” There’s just something so viscerally heinous about the most powerful person in the world, with all the power to stop what South Africa and other countries are credibly characterizing as a genocide against Palestinians, trying to laugh and pal around with us—all while the bombs and military aid he’s sending have resulted in over 1,000 children in Gaza having one or both of their legs amputated since the start of Israel’s war.
And it’s not just the Dark Brandon meme. Hillary Clinton posted a Sunday night Tayvis joke almost as cringe as #HillaryBarbie, and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) shared a Travis Kelce meme doubling down on Senate Democrats’ wildly xenophobic attempts at an immigration deal with Republicans. Frankly, watching liberal politicians maintain their staunch support for Israel, pushing out their heartless talking points to justify the mass killing of Palestinians, ignoring our pleas for a ceasefire, and then signing on to Twitter dot com to troll around with the masses, feels as if we’re existing in some kind of Twilight Zone. Democratic politicians’ attempts at terminally online humor have reached utterly staggering levels of tone-deafness, and it’s just a mystery to me what kind of consultant-brained thinking is required for them to believe they’re helping themselves in any way.
No one is asking for funny politicians who are ~good~ at social media. What we’re asking—begging—for is a fucking ceasefire. Anything in lieu of that (especially stale attempts at comedy and reliability) is just an insult.