Hillary Clinton: the first "meme president"?

by Toby Manhire / 23 May, 2012
The internet has fallen properly in love with the US secretary of state, reckons Buzzfeed.
Clinton text The mainstream media never had a lot of love for her - and certainly not when she was chasing the presidency. But "day in and day out, Hillary Clinton is winning the Internet."

That's the thesis of Hillary Reinsberg, writing at BuzzFeed.

Indeed, such is her command of the social web, Clinton could yet be crowned the "first meme president", we're told.

The ultimate HC meme, of course, is embodied in the Texts from Hillary Clinton Tumblr - inspired by a photograph of the secretary of state staring disdainfully at her Blackberry while inflight.

It gathered such a head of steam that it ended up getting a submission from the meme-alert Clinton herself. Its creators felt they had nowhere else to go, writing last month:

It’s been an overwhelming—and hilarious—week for us here at Texts from Hillary (TFH). What started as a joke at the bar between two friends turned into a national conversation about Secretary Clinton and went as far as talks about 2016.


After a week that included 32 posts, 83,000 shares on Facebook, 8,400 Twitter followers, over 45K Tumblr followers, news stories around the world, Renee Montagne from Morning Edition saying “ROFL,” a Maureen Dowd column, and a tweet from ?uest Love, we think it’s time to stop while we are ahead.


As far as memes go – it has gone as far as it can go. Is it really possible to top a submission from the Secretary herself? No. But then when you get to text with her in real life – it’s just over. At least for us. But we have no doubt it will live on with all of you on the Internet.


But Clinton's internettiness goes beyond the text thing.

Reinsberg writes:

Howard Dean was the hero of the rowdy, anti-war blogs in 2004. Barack Obama was the purest icon of the stylized, one-way hero-worshipping web of 2008. Now Clinton is the star of the messy, recursive, and playful ascendant social web. More blunt force than clever package, with her public stumbles and imperfections hanging out for all to see, she’s a fractured, engaging character — a perfect fit for a media universe dominated by Twitter and Facebook.

There's the no-nonsense Hillary – the one who wears dark glasses while typing away on her BlackBerry, as in the photo that the Texts From Hillary meme is centered around. But there's also the beer-swilling, dancing in Colombia Hillary. Further down her timeline there's the hippie-ish, happy, vintage Hillary. Photos of all – not just one – of these states of Clinton have gone viral on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook.


Part of it is a series of "savvy decisions" in social media.

Under Clinton's watch, the State Department has used Twitter and Facebook extensively, most notably by embracing activists' use of these social networks during the Arab Spring protests, and stating American policy on official Twitter feeds. Clinton's senior advisor Alec Ross, has been a kind of evangelist of a free and open Internet across the globe – and it's made Clinton look good.


On the home front, she’s also gone big with topics that are hot online, such as bullying, with her having made an "It Gets Better" video.


But most of all, reckons Reinsberg, it's about the way the web is now - chaotic and mutifarious - that suits her style.

Now the web is a hot mess, and Clinton's complex, multi-faceted personality – both tough and feminine, both serious and funny – make her a good fit for the meme-loving masses.



It’s been an overwhelming—and hilarious—week for us here at Texts from Hillary (TFH). What started as a joke at the bar between two friends turned into a national conversation about Secretary Clinton and went as far as talks about 2016.
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