Traditionally, memes have been defined as the genetic offshoots of culture, passed along organically to create a sort of common language. On the Internet, that translates to cats and computers, puns, and lacing irritating songs into friendly links. (Seriously, check out this coupon for free oatmeal cookies!)
Obama has been the beneficiary of meme culture throughout his first term (though some haven't been flattering). In fact, his 2008 candidacy was propelled by what all appearances was a meme -- the now-iconic Hope poster made by street artist Shepard Fairey.
Enter Obama's support of gay marriage and Internet's lightning quick ability to turn it into a joke. Some are offensive, others hilarious. But in the Internet patois, being the subject of a meme is at the very least a sign of relevance. Obama's thumbs-up to gay marriage has made him a bit of a star online. Again. Here are some of the best, and worst, of what's out so far.
Astride A Unicorn, Emitting Rainbows
It took less than an hour for this to make its rounds on Facebook.
The plaudits from supporters of gay marriage poured in, and were epitomized by this photoshopped photo of Obama riding a unicorn across a scenic pasture, emitting rainbows from his palms.
Context? None, though it may predate the gay marriage announcement and sat dormant until the right moment. Though riding a unicorn has symbolically become equal to pure awesomeness, and rainbows and the gay community go hand in hand. As a meme? Worth a chuckle. As a symbol? Not something the president will be using on a campaign poster anytime soon.
Bring Out Your GIFs
The world of animated loops took off nearly as soon as Internet connections moved out of the dial-up era. They've become the domain of sarcasm, goofy loops. But mostly, there's the And then I was like... variety of memes, a postscript to news of the good and bad variety.
From this realm has emerged a Tumblr called whenobamaendorsed, a compendium of reactions to Obama's endorsement. The site has started collecting GIFs, some to hilarious effect.
A president's ability to seem happy while drinking a beer has become political lucre. When exactly this started to matter is up for debate, but Obama has topped all his predecessors in public POTUS beer consumption. So much so he's made it a point to have some of his own brew at home -- you know, the White House?
Among his more infamous moments is a nice pint of Guiness Obama didn't enjoy -- or perhaps enjoyed too much - on St. Patrick's Day. It has become a signature Obama Approves meme, combining all three keys to an Obama meme: casual demeanor, a hand gesture and beer.
As a meme? Sort of works. As a campaign poster? Perhaps in certain frat houses.
Conspicuous timing? Willy Wonka agrees
Of course, there are members of the broader electorate, gay or otherwise, that are skeptical. The timing of Obama's announcement, after Vice President Joe Biden already broke the ice days earlier and North Carolina passed a ban on same sex marriage, left some wondering what is Obama's motivation. Condescending Willy Wonka, the universal you don't say? source of internet sarcasm, has emerged as the early poster boy for skeptics.