Liam Ashton queries the role of memes in this year's US Elections.

You may have seen some of the memes and vines around the most recent Trump and Clinton debate and of course the prior debates. It raises the question, what role do memes play in our lives? Have they replaced the caricatures in newspapers in a new form of satire? Or are they just useless unintelligent forms of easy entertainment?


Ask most college students about what they’ve seen about the American Presidential Election and chances are, most probably they won’t mention something about politics. In an election where the trending topics surrounding the election are Donald Trump’s sexist behaviour and Hillary Clinton’s ‘emails’, social media has become engrossed in creating memes and vines mocking the election and making it a parody of itself. A parody that seems to be growing all the way to the polling station.


When Clinton appeared on the daytime talk show ‘The Ellen Show’, hosted by Ellen Degeneres, an edited video of Clinton dancing with a member of the audience at one of her rallies was the topic of conversation. While it is a light hearted chat show, at this crucial stage in the run up to the elections it would be expected that the public would be interested in political agenda rather than a funny sketch. Clinton’s full interview on ‘The Ellen Show’ received 4 thousand views while the dance moves clip was watched 2.1 million times.


So what are the majority of people really interested in? When you look at one of the top trending videos on Youtube is a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch of the last presidential debate which has received 13-million-views in 3 days. This is the same amount of views the actual debate received when posted by NBC News last week.


So what exactly is the role these memes and vines are playing? Is it a distraction for the public to find comic relief in the knowledge that should Donald Trump win he will be the ‘leader of the free world’ and have access to nuclear weapons? Or could they be a way of millennials to express their views on the Presidential Election.


One video of the first Presidential Debate was edited in such a way so that anything Clinton said, Trump would cut across her shouting “wrong”. These videos apply the same principles that a caricature in a Sunday newspaper would, taking something that has an element of truth and exaggerating it. While he didn’t actually shout over Clinton, his body language and demeanour replicated that of a bold child hearing something they didn’t like.


While it could be said that some memes and videos provide insight into the opinions of the youth, which is evident to the likes and shares the posts receive. On the other hand in my view there are a large quantity that are simply useless unintelligent forms of easy entertainment. While a compilation video of Trump saying ‘China’ for five minutes proves how he constantly resorts to blaming the world superpower for global debt as a means of evading and answer, a cleverly edited video of him inhaling repeatedly only makes for cheap laughs.