Trump, Trudeau and what we really take from important events

Fifty years from now, students will open the pages of their history books covering the Trump era and read about the first meeting our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had with America’s controversial leader. Will there be a list of the serious issues at stake during that conversation, or will this simply be pasted across the page:

This is already the most iconic photo of the Trump, Trudeau meeting

Less than two hours after the live presser wrapped, the meme-sphere was a-flurry over this image.


Photo courtesy:

Har. Har.

Funny? Yes.

Can I think of a million and one punchlines to accompany this? Definitely.

This is not news, but this is what is going to be shared over and over and over.

When I came across the photo story on Buzzfeed, it was trending with around 500,000 views in less than 3 hours. To compare, coverage on the Globe and Mail’s Facebook page – including a political cartoon of a similar nature had less than 500 likes.

A similar phenomena happened during Trump’s inauguration last month:

The purest meme of the inauguration is George W. Bush with his poncho.


Photo courtesy Reuters

Now, when I watched the video of poor president Bush struggling to figure out how to use his rain poncho, I laughed hard.

The meme is the millennial version of the political cartoon. However, these photos differ from the illustrations in newspapers in one key regard – absolutely no context is provided whatsoever.

To understand the joke implied in a political cartoon, generally you need to have some familiarity with the topic, and that information is generally provided by the publication itself.

That is no longer necessary. Photos are taken completely out of context and all original meaning is lost. The do not add to the story or create understanding, but stand alone as individual side shows. And unfortunately, these side shows are where most younger people are getting their news from.

TV programs such as Royal Canadian Air Farce, The Hour Has 22 Minutes and Saturday Night Live have profited from this sort of news commentary for decades.

I would argue you need to be familiar with current events in order to enjoy a program such as those aforementioned, but this isn’t necessary to participate in the social media meme world.

What are the implications of these type of photos going viral – is it harmless fun, or breeding ignorance?

F: Trump, Trudeau and that hesitant handshake – what we should really take from the leaders’ first meeting

T: Is a meme now worth a thousand words? #trump #trudeau #canadianpoli

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