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Election 2020Politics Is a Metaverse. The Trump-Biden Debate Was Metahell Almost immediately after, scores of other screenwriters with embarrassing titles on their IMDb pages started chiming in with their own “That was the worst thing I’ve ever seen, and I …” tweets. Even Mark Hamill joined the fray, noting that he’d been in the Star Wars Holiday Special . Like most things on the internet, the meme came and went—a small dopamine hit in the middle of a peak doomscrolling night .
But it was also something else: a whole lot of people taking one for the team. As Election Day draws near, the discourse on social media—particularly on Twitter—gets more and more fraught. Even good-faith arguments can devolve quickly into mudslinging, and the result is everyone getting more entrenched. Jokes can get taken the wrong way, finding unwitting victims in people who are just exhausted and trying to make sense of what’s happening. By mocking their own careers, the folks posting the meme released the valve of that possibility before the pressure even built up. It wasn’t Trump’s supporters mocking Biden’s or the other way around—it was just people mocking themselves to express how fed up they were with the state of the democratic process.
Does any of this make what happened during the debate better? Not really. Chances are, no one will remember it by next week. But for one very brief moment it was possible to forget the war of rhetoric, the commentators, the Proud Boys, and even the debate itself and just quietly appreciate the joy of a joke well-told—even if the subject wasn’t funny at all.
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