Today, I want to talk about a meme that always makes me laugh, regardless of how many times I’ve seen it. That’s right, we’re talking about the Trump-trucker meme.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the meme, watch below. You’ll see a Republican presidential candidate, now president, say “You people know a lot about trucks,” before making some ridiculous hand motions and sound effects, all to the tune of “Funkytown.” It’s truly magical.
The magic of the meme, of course, is in the editing. Donald Trump did not say “You people know a lot about trucks. Bing bing bing bong bong” in a speech. He did say those two phrases in the speech, and make the accompanying hand motions, but the context is completely lost in this video rendition.
The original speech took place on August 11, 2015 in Birch Run, Michigan. In the beginning of his speech, he talks about two of his favorite topics of discussion: China and the domestic economy. As part of the latter topic, he says in an aside, “You people know a lot about trucks.” It’s a weird aside, but within the context, it can be understood and appreciated.
Almost 15 minutes later, Trump starts talking about his competition, namely Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, claiming that they are “totally controlled” by lobbyists, special interest groups, and donors. To illustrate this point, he makes silly hand motions and says “Bing bing bong bong bong!” As if he realizes how weird his improvised demonstration is, he then says “You guys know what that is, right?” And even though it’s weird, and goofy, within the context, we do know what that is. Those motions and sounds make sense within the context.
The editing that makes this meme great isn’t the technological editing. With the advancements of modern-day technology, anyone can contribute to the satirical and meme-culture nowadays. The thing that makes this meme great is that the context is completely edited out. We take two unrelated, goofy things and strip them of their context. The product is pure nonsense.
In fact, the product is so stripped of meaning that I found myself creating meaning. When I first saw the meme, I assumed that the bings and bongs were supposed to be truck noises. I didn’t see a storyline, so I created one that I thought was right. (It was not right.)
As I said in the beginning, I love this meme. It makes me laugh every time I see it. There are lessons we can learn from this meme, however. If there was one takeaway from this meme, it should be to learn the context behind memes. That context is what matters, not the actual meme.
Political cartoons were originally satire on politicians or issues, but memes are not the same. This was not satire on Trump’s view of Michigan residents or truck drivers or anything. It was nonsense. Don’t treat memes like they are political cartoons. Some are just as poignant and profound, while others are just goofy and silly.
All that to say: meme responsibly.