A couple years from now, when we reflect on year 2020, most of us might just let out a big, big sigh. Given the year that everyone has gone through, there is much anticipation for year 2021 – which is just right around the corner. Right before the craziness of 2020, Bernie Sanders, who then was a Democratic presidential candidate, released a campaign video urging his supporters to help fund his presidential campaign. Bernie Sanders specifically stated, “I am once again asking for your financial support.” And from that 1 minute and 19 second video, that single sentence became a meme – which now has over thousands and thousands of reproduction and mutation.
If one would look at the screenshot of the video objectively, Bernie Sanders was simply just asking for financial support. Why, then, did something like this become a meme? To break it down, there are two attributes to a somewhat successful meme – relatability and humor. And to answer the question, Bernie Sanders was being relatable and humorous. Simple as that. Buzzfeed, a popular digital content creation company, stated that the meme “seemed to resonate with pretty much every person on the internet who’s ever needed something from someone” (Buzzfeed.com). It is the overlapping nuanced messages that one could be so vulnerable, so desperate, and so “done” that are truly just relatable and hilarious. Some may might think that such desperation to ask for something again might be pathetic; but, on the internet, being pathetic can be funny and being desperate is funny. Somehow, we all find humor in the things that are sad to relieve us from truly being sad.
Another aspect that could possibly add humor is the seriousness of Bernie Sanders in this meme. Bernie Sanders is one of the more well-known political figures in our generation today. And with most to all politicians, they carry themselves in a very professional and serious manner. But given the year that 2020 has been, a lot of people’s reactions to politics and to the recent presidential election come with a nervous laughter. In year 2020, politics has been a very tense subject that has polarized so many people on the internet. But somehow, memes became a channel of humor with everything going on. In addition, Bernie Sanders, himself, has become an iconic meme as well. He even has a Facebook group page (which also has a Wikipedia page) called “Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash” – which is dedicated to detailing how he is a meme and what memes about him are out there on the internet. Also, just a simple search of Bernie Sanders’ memes on Google Images will lead you to millions of Bernie Sanders’ memes (picture below).
So, that is the origin story of the Bernie Sanders meme. And from the start of 2020 to now, it has been one of the most iconic, reproduced, and mutated memes of the year – which fulfills the circuit of culture. One of the funniest reproductions of this meme I have seen is one about forgetting people’s name (picture on the right). The sentence was mutated to say, “I am once again asking for your name.” I personally struggle so much to remember people’s name – it will literally take me 3 seconds to forget it. To my friends and I, this is characteristic of mine is both so sad yet so funny. And I am confident that millions of other people find this to be both relatable and hilarious.
Another meme that I found to be hilarious was one that said, “I am once again asking who’s hiring.” As a senior who is about to graduate college and is looking forward to working soon after college, this meme was just simply relatable, and it was probably relatable for thousands of other graduating college students as well. On top of that, this is relatable to all people who were affected by the sudden halt in the job market due to COVID-19. Finding a job during this crazy and unprecedented time has been very difficult for many people as it brings a lot of worries and anxiety. But this version of the meme somehow brings laughter to the situation that millions of Americans are currently in.
While being one of the leading political figures in this generation, Bernie Sanders has brought laughter for millions of users on the internet as a meme icon. And the “I am once again asking for your financial support” meme has become one of the iconic memes of the year. Somehow, in this wild year we have all lived through, memes have become a source of relief and joy. And a good Bernie Sanders meme will never fail make you laugh.