Chinese illustrator Yang Quan's manga-style depiction of US President Joe Biden has evolved into a "Dark Brandon" internet meme (via Twitter)

In the continuing memeification of our entire society, a sinister alter ego to President Joe Biden known as “Dark Brandon” has reached a zenith this week. Spawned from a sort of telephone-game misinterpretation by a television commentator, who heard “Fuck Joe Biden” as “Let’s Go Brandon,” this meme began as a mascot for shade-throwing from right-wingers. The next evolution seemed to come from a Chinese illustrator named Yang Quan, who posted a manga-style sequence of Biden-wins-Game-of-Thrones imagery on his Weibo microblog account, following Biden’s 2020 election victory, according to Politico. For a time, Dark Brandon was the “Thanks, Obama” of the Biden White House, eventually evolving into a bleak antihero for a distraught left-wing voting base.

But your derision only makes Dark Brandon stronger, fools! Over the weekend, it seems the meme has outgrown its humble origin story as a Republican playground bullying tactic, and is now going viral on a wave of left-leaning memelords rallying behind this chaotic-evil version of, let’s face it, a generally unintimidating politician.

On Sunday, White House press secretary Andrew Bates shared a Dark Brandon meme, featuring Biden with laser eyes.

“Dark Brandon is crushing it,” he noted.

Cue the wave of hot takes on Dark Brandon phenomenology, with Slate characterizing Dark Brandon as the impotent fantasy life of a voting base dying for a show of force from their milquetoast alternative to the modern axis of evil that is the GOP.

“We can debate over whether it’s foolish to assign any intellectual significance to the tweets made by weirdos on the internet, but I do think that both Dark Brandon and DarkMAGA were interesting artifacts of America’s superheated political environment,” writes Luke Winkie, for Slate. “The country does feel like it’s perched on the precipice of some sort of prophetic rebirth, and perhaps, as our institutions erode into the sea, Dark Brandon is the harbinger of that final judgment.”

“And while the White House often repeats the ‘Twitter is not real life’ mantra, the internet love was welcomed in some Democratic circles after several months of trying to defend an administration with approval numbers in the thirties,” write Politico reporters Alex Thompson and Allie Bice.

The flourishing of Dark Brandon has dovetailed with a week of political wins, including a historic bill to empower clean energy initiatives, the assassination of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a drop in gas prices.

Tobin Stone, who posted one of the popular “Dark Brandon” memes, spoke with The Hill on the Dark Brandon phenomenon:

“After a year of bad news for Democrats, the past two weeks have seen the Biden administration get more wins than any other period of his presidency,” said Stone, “and like many other Democrats, I’ve wanted to celebrate.”

Of course, anything being embraced by the establishment becomes immediately outdated by internet standards, and Rolling Stone has already deemed Dark Brandon dead from a “terminal case of cringe.” If anyone in-house noticed how ironic it is for this extremely no-longer-cutting-edge publication to accuse someone else of “how do you do, fellow kids,” posturing, they were too busy high-fiving and photoshopping to mention it.

But even the Washington Post seems to agree that what goes up, must come down.

“There’s a problem, though, and it stems from an unavoidable reality of the internet,” writes Molly Roberts for the WaPo. “Everything ironic eventually becomes genuine, if you wait long enough for the normies to discover it […] This is the way a meme ends: its nihilism co-opted into earnestness by embarrassingly sincere lookers-on not online enough to know better, and trying too hard.”

Just like your parents joining Facebook, mainstream adoption signals the end for Dark Brandon. Or does it? We have it on good authority that Dark Brandon faked his own death, only to ascend on the eve of Midterm elections and summon a sharknado that will obliterate Marjorie Taylor Greene. You heard it here first.

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Sarah Rose Sharp

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit —...

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