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Boris Johnson’s Social Media Team Is as Good at Making Memes as He Is at Winning Votes

If making a meme, make sure it is funny first

The big brains in the Conservative Party have depicted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a giant chicken for lols. It doesn’t work, on a number of levels
Conservatives/Twitter

The first rule of making a joke, is to make sure the joke works. Much has been said of the supposed “strategic genius” Dominic Cummings, the senior advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has just endured the worst possible start to his Premiership, having lost three out of three votes, lost his Commons majority, been lambasted for racism, seen his own brother resign his government, been outfoxed by his adversaries, hounded out of Wakefield, and generally seen his anarcho-Brexit-at-any-cost strategy backfire. It would appear that Johnson and his advisors — who are known to admire the way in which President Donald Trump has eviscerated convention, treated the truth with disdain, and employed demagogic populism — have one central idea: to keep calling the leader of the opposition, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, a chicken.

It’s a new obsession. Following the Home Office’s campaign launch last month, in which it conflated knife crime with chicken shops and did nothing but reinforce racist stereotypes, it was in the Commons on Tuesday, that Johnson deployed the “chicken” charge for the first time. In his woeful debut Prime Ministers questions, he, instead of answering literally a single question from Corbyn, attacked him. Amid talk of a U.S.-U.K. trade deal in the aftermath of any Brexit — the biggest opportunity in the eyes of Brexiters — one headline fear has been American chlorinated chickens coming into Britain. It was this which prompted Johnson to remark, “there’s only one chlorinated chicken that I can see in this house, and he’s on that bench.” Absolute chortle.

Less than 24-hours later, the Photoshop wizards at The Sun (in England) had splashed Corbyn as a chicken on its front page with the accompanying headline: “Is THIS the most dangerous chicken in Britain?” Lol.

Some are already wondering how this all ends.

Which brings us to this lunchtime’s “stunt,” which, at the time of writing, is being appropriately ratioed. Forgetting for a moment that the Conservative party has been roundly criticised for having completely jettisoned even a mirage of integrity, while Jeremy Corbyn, along with all other opposition parties, has decided to wait and agree to an election on his own terms — a move, everyone but the Tories, whom it disadvantages, recognise as an astute and sensible political manoeuvre — to mock Corbyn’s apparent lack of courage, comedic convention states that the analogies must run in parallel, metaphors must work, and acronyms must tally.

Update: The Tory press office — helmed, lest it be forgotten, by Robert Oxley, the ex-spokesperson for Vote Leave and more recently head of corporate communications at Deliveroohas sent lobby journalists an actual, branded “JFC” chicken dinner. It’s pallid, undercooked, apparently unseasoned, and curiously flat.

Cummings won’t care. The social media manager has form. Johnson probably doesn’t even know about it, busy as he is wrestling with bulls and upcycling their waste. But, nevertheless, let’s pick the “joke” apart.

  • KFC is a restaurant, not an oversized chicken.
  • Jeremy Corbyn is a human, not a chicken.
  • JFC: Jesus Fucking Christ, yes; Jeremy Fucking Corbyn, yes; Jeremy Frightened Chicken, yes. But, no! Let’s write: “Totally Spineless Chicken” instead.
  • If Jeremy Corbyn were a chicken with no spine, he would be dead, likely fried, and coated with 11 herbs and spices.
  • Conservatives don’t say “hey”; they say “watcha” or “hello”
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s middle name is Bernard; Boris Johnson’s middle name is Boris (his first name is Alexander). Tories talking turkey.
  • British politics doesn’t do locker room talk.

It is however the perfect kind of chicken feed for actual jokes from Left-leaning Twitter users.

Here’s a few early ones:

KFC, one of the early adopters of so-called “brand Twitter” — a company which famously follows only 6 Herbs and 5 Spice Girls will probably be readying a comeback. They’ve already had a go with the meme of the week. It’s trite, it’s pathetic, it’s half-funny, it’s unbelievable, it’s unpredictable. In other words, it’s 2019.

Update: Reader, KFC replied.

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