How ‘Let’s go Brandon’ became an anti-Biden conservative heckle

Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, A vulgar chant by racing fans in Alabama has morphed into a conservative meme

"Let's go, Brandon!" has become a popular refrain among US conservatives.

The phrase was spotted on T-shirts as well as a banner pulled by a plane at Donald Trump's rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Saturday. It's a recurring meme on right-wing social media websites.

Fans chanted it at college football games last weekend in Texas and Mississippi.

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz mentioned it on a conservative podcast, calling it "one of the funniest things I've ever seen".

But what does it mean?

In short, it's an insult directed at Democratic President Joe Biden – and a way for conservatives to thumb their noses at what they see as liberal bias in the mainstream media.

It all started at the end of a televised Nascar stock car race in Talladega, Alabama, on 2 October. NBC reporter Kelli Stavast was interviewing the winner, driver Brandon Brown, when members of the crowd in the grandstand behind them began chanting an obscenity directed at the president.

The vulgar word directed at Joe Biden was clearly picked up on the broadcast's audio.

Whether by mistake or as an intentional attempt to deflect from the swearing on live television, Ms Stavast told Mr Brown that the crowd was cheering him on with chants of "Let's go, Brandon".

The conservative social media ecosystem quickly latched onto the moment.

Obscene chants directed at the president have been a recurring theme at conservative gatherings and sporting events in recent months, so the "Brandon" line became a tongue-in-cheek way of evading media censorship and public sensibilities – while still getting the point across to those in the know.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

"Memes, like political slogans, reinforce community, and neatly outline the boundaries of the in group and out group," says Amarnath Amarasingam, an associate professor of political studies at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada.

"All memes are basically designed to quickly make you feel like you are on the inside of a large body of ideas and community, without having to do any of the work."

It is also tangible proof that for all Biden's campaign-trail and inaugural-address talk of unity and political reconciliation, conservative animosity toward the Democratic chief executive has become firmly entrenched.

Disinformation and conspiracy theories on social media are a regular source of public concern, but the Brandon phenomenon is something different – a simple vessel for transmitting invective at a politician. The obscene chant, and the Brandon slogan that arose from it, reflect the raw frustration of a political movement that three years ago controlled the presidency and both chamber of Congress but now are in the political wilderness.

Nascar's Twitter account initially posted a video of the interview, but subsequently deleted it without explanation.

The perceived media filter has also been a key component for the popularity of the Brandon meme. Some conservatives view Ms Stavast's attribution of the Biden chant as yet another example of the media covering up for and protecting Biden by downplaying what they view as the depth of the president's unpopularity.

"The meme feeds into several long-running beliefs in conservative circles – that liberals are snowflakes who get offended at things quickly and that so-called liberal media will censor all criticism of Biden," Amarasingam says.

"The most successful memes often consolidate various grievances of a particular community into one picture that speaks a thousand words. And this is no different."

Ms Stavast and NBC Sports have not commented on her inaccurate portrayal of the chant. Brown, on the other hand, seems to appreciate his unexpected part in the phenomenon.

"To all the other Brandons out there, You're welcome!" he tweeted. "Let's go us."

More by Anthony:

  • Five ways this Supreme Court could change America
  • Biden meets Boris: Shared interests but bumps remain
  • How critical race theory is dividing the US
  • Is there bad news for Biden in Alaska?
  • The Democrats' 'tectonic' shift on Israel 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *