Last week, Trump tweeted a video that anyone with a sense of humor found hilarious. It featured a clip of the Nickelback video for their 2005 song “Photograph,” and featured a superimposed image of Joe and Hunter Biden golfing with Devon Archer, who sat on the board of Burisma Holdings with Hunter Biden. The photo proved that Joe Biden lied when he claimed he was unaware of his son’s controversial business dealings, and Trump’s tweet with the altered video perfectly captured the situation. Even PJ Media’s own Jim Treacher found it funny.
Washington Post editorial writer Molly Roberts, however, did not. In fact, she was so unamused by it that she wrote more than 800 words devoted to analyzing Trump’s use of the video, and managed to find that the problem wasn’t with Joe Biden for lying, but Trump for daring to share a Nickelback meme.
The conceit is simple. The “Photograph” music video shows Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger walking down an empty street, holding a framed image of Kroeger and his producer up to the camera. Trump’s riff on an existing meme replaces that image with a Tucker Carlson “scoop” circulating on right-wing media.
Roberts’ attempts to undermine the cleverness and humor by acknowledging (rightfully) that Nickelback is “horrible,” which makes Trump out of touch or something for using a Nickelback video/meme to make a campaign statement, because he obviously must be unaware of how horrible they are, otherwise he wouldn’t have shared the video… I guess?
Yes, I’m sure Trump cared more about the symbolism of using a Nickelback song and video than the fact that the lyrics, “Look at this photograph, Every time I do it makes me laugh,” fit the situation Trump was calling attention to perfectly: that Biden had lied about being unaware of his son’s business dealings and the photograph that was leaked to Tucker Carlson Tonight proved it. Rather than acknowledge this inconvenient fact, Roberts instead tries to focus attention on Trump. According to Roberts, the meme Trump shared “illuminates a basic truth about our president.”
Nickelback didn’t exactly become famous for being famous. It became famous for being famous despite being horrible. That makes Trump the Nickelback president. He was elevated to the top of society despite being utterly deplorable, and also because he was utterly deplorable.
Trump is full of the emptiness in the “Photograph” frame. He is more commodity than man, and his every absurd action makes a mockery of the culture that created him. The problem is, unlike the Web-dwellers who originated so much of the vernacular he has adopted for his own — whether they’re his friends on 4chan, or his foes on Twitter, or a mix of both on Reddit or anywhere else — he doesn’t know there’s anything funny about it.
Do you see what she did there—besides waste your time trying to make “Nickelback president” a thing? According to Roberts, Trump “wasn’t sharing Nickelback because he’s a nihilist, or because he’s addicted to irony, or because he gets it at all. He was sharing Nickelback because he doesn’t get it.” Roberts’ commentary can be summed up like this: Trump shared a Nickelback meme! Nickelback is horrible! Trump is horrible! Give me a Pulitzer Prize!
Based on Roberts’ commentary, that Biden is a liar is irrelevant. Trump shared a Nickelback video, and it was clever and humorous, and therefore she spent 800+ words trying to turn Biden’s lie into a Trump liability. Trump may not have lied as Biden did, but he is guilty of hubris for sharing a Nickelback meme without realizing that nobody actually likes Nickelback. I guess to Molly Roberts of the Washington Post that is an impeachable offense.
Lord help us if Trump ever shares a Rick Astley meme.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis