Political cartoons are as American as apple pie and only knowing the first few verses of The Star Spangled Banner. One as far back as 1884 hit then-presidential candidate Grover Cleveland and a love child scandal. While he still won the election, the infamous cartoon produced chants that taunted Cleveland throughout his campaign.
Somewhere along the time the internet grew into the necessary tool people use every day, so did the nature of the political cartoon. The complex jokes in cartoon form that could be found on newspapers are now found in simpler images.
3. One Does Not Simply Make Funny Political Statements
The mash-up of current topics with pop culture keep both things vibrant, more than the work of an illustrator can accomplish at times. It can even reach a point where the jokes surpasses the pop culture reference.
The art of making a political meme is as simple as any other meme. A person can upload a stock photo to a meme-creating website and type up their message. They are "capsules of attitude and emotions," according to Dr. Min Jiang, a mass media professor at UNC Charlotte.
The populist appeal of Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders during the 2015 presidential campaign felt the powerful effects of memes. In many respects, it was a sign that he had truly locked up the youth vote via Facebook groups like the Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash.
On the other side of the aisle, the alt-right were fans of Donald Trump and found a banner of sorts under Pepe The Frog. This, along with their use of the word "deplorable" taken from Hilary Clinton as a badge of honor, were memes for the far-right in 2015-16.
In turbulent political moments, the most popular stories are the ones that help people understand or cope with the situation. The number of Harry Potter memes created to distinguish the candidates were staggering. Not all worked on the same level — while some showed Hillary Clinton as Hermione, others put her in a less flattering light and put her as Dolores Umbridge.
Memes are not just confined to American politics. When the UK voted yes on leaving the European Union, the memes that exploded for Brexit came in many forms, from the traditional photo-with-white-font to the more recent "Crying MJ" type. Both were effective in displaying the despair of those who voted "Remain."
In the past, political cartoons were confined to what a cartoonist would come up and then exaggerated to make a point. Now that the politicians have their own way to influence an audience, they can make the memes as political weapons without the use of professionals. For example, Donald Trump put the image of his wife Melania next to Ted Cruz's wife Heidi as a way to insult her looks.
The problem with memes is that sometimes people lose sight of the seriousness of the topic, like an election or cause. A candidate can look too much like a joke, or people will give into "slacktivism" like many have in the past.