President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has embraced the “Dark Brandon” meme, which appears on a page of 404 error messages and the laser-eyed 80-year-old man already appears on T-shirts.
The new site for Biden’s 2024 bid features a campaign video and requests from supporters to donate to his re-election effort.
For those who may end up on a page that doesn’t exist, they are shown an image of the meme version of the president.
“We are going to get you back on the rails,” the page reads, with Mr. Biden blasting the user with his red eyes.
The phrase is possibly a reference to Biden’s affection for Amtrak, which he used extensively while serving as a senator representing Delaware for 36 years before becoming vice president.
The “Dark Brandon” meme began to evolve in late 2021 when a Nascar reporter apparently misheard a crowd chanting “f*** Joe Biden” as “Let’s go Brandon.”
The phrase became code to criticize the president in right-wing groups.
Last year, Trump supporters who wanted the former president to run again created a series of “Dark MAGA” memes, NPR noted.
They tend to portray an authoritative-looking Donald Trump; some of the memes include Mr. Trump with blue laser eyes. Those memes also inspired Mr. Biden’s “Dark Brandon” memes with red lasers for eyes, intended to make him look sinister.
But the president’s supporters used those same images to show their support for Biden, particularly as Democrats scored political victories.
An official campaign site now sells “dark shirts” for $32 which they say are “best worn while beating Malarkey.”
vox Culture reporter Aja Romano told NPR that “Biden’s acceptance of the Dark Brandon meme shows not only an awareness of the meme and what it represents to many of his followers, but also a self-awareness of how the meme encourages and rejuvenates his public persona”.
“Especially as he prepares for a tough re-election, look for further support for the ‘Dark Brandon’ meme on social media as a way to galvanize a following online,” added Romano.