Memes critique the government’s reaction to the pandemic using the First Lady’s lime green dress at the Republican National Convention
There are a couple of firm rules that you’re advised to stick to if you’re appearing at an event that’s going to be broadcast across the internet: don’t appear in front of a blank whiteboard, and don’t wear bright green. Because if you do, you’re basically asking to become a meme.
Apparently, Melania Trump didn’t get the memo though, because during Thursday night’s Republican National Convention she arrived wearing a dress that essentially doubled as a ready-made green screen. Unsurprisingly, the internet noticed and quickly got to work flooding Twitter with edited versions of the dress.
While Donald Trump attacked his political opponents and celebrated his own “achievements” with misleading claims – the coronavirus crisis was notably absent for much of his speech – the First Lady’s outfit became a way to display what’s really going on in the country. Think: images of devastating statistics from the pandemic, old clips of Trump with his pal Jeffrey Epstein, and video of fires raging in cities across the US.
Below, we’ve rounded up a few of the highlights.
KICKING OFF WITH COVID-19 FIGURES
While Trump skirted around the almost-180,000 US deaths related to coronavirus until later in his speech – and has repeatedly been criticised and/or mocked on social media for his absurd and dangerous reponse – the damning data did make an appearance, featuring heavily in the edits of the green screen-esque dress.
ALONG WITH IMAGES OF THE VIRUS
The dress also got a couple of trippy redesigns based on the – now all-too-familiar – illustrations of the virus itself.
ADDRESSING THE ONGOING PROTESTS ACROSS THE US
Before Trump gave his speech at Thursday night’s RNC, protesters gathered in DC, just yards away from the White House. They were there to demonstrate against the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was partially paralysed after being shot eight times by a police officer on August 23, in Kenosha, Washington.
These protests also follow the wave of Black Lives Matter activists taking to the streets earlier this year to oppose systemic racism and police brutality. Of course, scenes from some of these demonstrations made it onto the dress, and they sit pretty uncomfortably with all the fanfare and self-congratulation.
TRACING TRUMP’S RELATIONSHIP WITH JEFFREY EPSTEIN
Obviously, Jeffrey Epstein has repeatedly been the subject of memes since his arrest and subsequent death in 2019, so it’s not too surprising that he reemerged here, amid the proceedings at the RNC. Specifically, clips of Trump mingling with a younger Epstein graced the dress as he walked down the White House steps with Melania.
AND FINALLY, THE ENVIRONMENT
Is creating memes based on Melania Trump’s address really going to lead to any effective political action, or sway many voters? Probably not; the memes are more like a coping mechanism to stop us all losing our minds about the issues that Trump – among others – is blatantly ignoring. Like climate change, which he has previously dismissed as a “hoax”.
It’s unclear whether all of the edits of Melania’s dress engulfed in flames directly comment on Trump’s terrible record with the environment, or just sum up his presidency in general, but tbh they do the job either way.