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#MemeOfTheWeek: The Drake-ification Of The Week In Politics

There are certain weeks when one thing, one moment, one meme takes over the entire Internet. Like the week Beyonce's surprise album dropped. Or when Kim Kardashian and her derriere covered Paper Mag. Or when Alex From Target happened, whatever that was.

This was one of those weeks, thanks to a certain Canadian child actor turned rapper. Drake's Hotline Bling video, with his maybe way too earnest, or maybe not earnest at all dance moves, emo lighting, and curvaceous ladies in black took the entire Interwebz by storm.

You probably have already seen the video by now, and heard the song — the lyrics are all about Drake's frustration over an ex and her newfound liberation since their breakup, with lines like, "You used to call me on my cellphone, late night when you need my love." The video is full of Drake, dancing, and dancing and dancing some more. And the chorus has Drake longing for the days when his ex used to call, making his "hotline bling," knowing it "only means one thing" (that his ex wants to hook up).

"Hotline Bling" became THE Internet this week, outtrending the election of a new Canadian prime minister, American Vice President Biden's decision not to run for president, and even Hillary Clinton's testimony before Congress.

And in an interesting turn, or perhaps a totally predictable one, Drake and "Hotline Bling" bled into this week's online political discussion, in some rather amusing ways.

On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah ended a riff on Canada's election of Justin Trudeau, with — you guessed it — Drake dancing.

And later in the week, Mollie Shafer-Schweig of BuzzFeed tweeted Clinton's smiling face atop Drake's dancing body, sent out after Joe Biden announced he wouldn't be running for president.

NPR's own Claire O'Neill even chimed in:

Bernie Sanders and his dance moves were set to the song's music:

And by the time Clinton testified before Congress Thursday, that event had become Drake-ified as well:

For Chelsea Summers, a freelance writer, Hillary and Drake were, in a way, a perfect pair:

NPR called Summers up, to get her thoughts on Drake, the meme-ness of "Hotline Bling," and how, and why it intersected with the world of politics online this week.

"This is larger than this moment," Summers said of the video. "This is something that has plasticity, and it's like, everybody gets the Drake that they need."

Jon Carmanica at The New York Times agrees. He wrote of "Hotline Bling," "It's less a video than an open source code that easily allows Drake's image and gestures to be rewritten, drawn over, repurposed."

But why carry it over into the world of politics, like many online did? Maybe, in part, because it was just everywhere, and politics, like everything else online this week, got caught up in the Drake shuffle. But perhaps there's more: a need to tie the uncoolest of proceedings — elections and hearings and the like — to things more popular, more viral — a need to make the uncool cool.

Or, perhaps, there's a deeper connection. Summers told NPR that the biggest political event of the week — Clinton's testimony before Congress — actually has something in common with "Hotline Bling."

" 'Hotline Bling' is about phone calls, and Benghazi hearings are about emails," she said. "They're both this weird thing about repercussions of, or nostalgia for, past communication with someone — nostalgia in the case of Drake, repercussions in the case of Hillary. Once it's over, you can't really take it [those communications] back. And it's open for misinterpretation or reinterpretation. ... It's also kind of an encapsulation of ... f*****-up communication, ultimately."

And if there's anything the Internet is good at, it's reinterpretation. If the World Wide Web can make Drake and Hillary a meme, it can probably remix anything.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.
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