By Derya Khalilpour (not the SU President)
Election time, everyone’s favourite (or least favourite) time of year. The time of year that has students endeavouring to get noticed by their peers as expert representatives-to be whilst simultaneously trying to retain as much (if any) street cred as possible. The usual scenes take place like clock-work, the main thoroughfare gets plastered with posters (one almost always a replica of “that” Obama 2008 boi), students trying to go about their day normally get harassed to the point of *anger* and every Facebook group under the sun gets filled with weak attempts at trying to appear like a normal person whilst shilling to the nth degree over the chance to bag a cushy £20k job. But, a new phenomenon is emerging, one that tries to cut through the noise and reach out straight to the soul of every student, memes. Memes are the one medium by which the secret formula has yet to be produced. Some may look to other universities and gush over the success of other “memers” such as the “Harwood Vid”, but there is no perfect way to achieve the goal of trying to convey a political message alongside a funny enjoyable picture or video.
Now, this brings us to the main topic of this article; the memes used in the 2018 SU leadership race at UWE. A varied year that has been very fruitful in the meme department but their over-use and under development has meant that some have slipped by the wayside and not delivered on the promise of good fun entertainment and are just…well, shit.
So, this brings us onto our first memer of the day; those of the candidate (and winner) of the election for VP Education; Ayrden Pocock. Ayrden has often been called out of touch with the average student on account of his age, which is very old, so it’s clear that the memes he employed were in an attempt to appeal to a younger demographic, the most gallant of causes. However what we actually got was rather more “How do you do, fellow kids”.
Ah, ‘who would win’, normally a very easy set up for an easy punchline, 1, 2, 3, One xxx boi. great, can’t mess it up. The UWE extenuating circumstances policy, what a great issue to raise, mountains of bureaucracy that leaves some students penalised for their illness, and who in this hypothetical battle would win? Of course, who else but “this boi”. Now, as far as meme formats go this is a tough one, the usage of “boi” is correct but you’d normally describe the boi not just refer to the image, otherwise, what’s the point of the caption?
But! We have an improvement.
The same meme as before was re-used (which has it’s own consequences that I will touch on later) but this time addressing the issue of the removal of books from the library. Now if like me you study a subject that actually has relevance in the 21t century you may say that every piece of information you could ever possibly need is available in digital form, and you’d be right. But, some students that hale from an absolute despot faculty like ACE say that they need hard copy books to study from (despite the long term environmental impacts that they are all consciously contributing to) so, I guess, all things considered, we should probably fight to stop the library from removing books. There is an improvement in the punchline of this meme though, we now have a choice of an empty library or one well prepared boi. There is of course no doubt that by well prepared the meme is referring to the preparation done by the VP Education in advance of Academic Board, LTSEC and ASQC meetings in order to effectively put forward their case for their side of the argument. That context was definitely not lost in the meme.
Next up, the mighty, James Arrowsmith for VP Sports and Health. Now James is a Students’ Union veteran, having served on the Debating Society committee for 3 years, including one as its President. James is no stranger to fastidiousness regardless of the required depth and rigour for any argument to be made. However (which is a word I feel like I’m going to be using a lot in the rest of this article), in this election cycle it’s clear that James went for quantity over quality. Here’s a selection of some of his finest work.
Ok, this one is actually quite good, I full on sniggered upon seeing it for the first time. It’s clear that James was trying to sell a consistent message in all of his memes, VOTE, FOR, JAMES. Now I’d like to categorise his use of memes into an up and coming genre of “so bad they’re almost good”, they don’t take themselves too seriously and know that they are simply there to serve a purpose, so there’s no point in trying too hard, and, in fact, they can even be used to poke fun at the absurdity of student elections itself. As can be seen by this brain expanding meme below.
Now I can’t let James off the hook completely here, he is just as guilty as imgur of providing some of the deadest memes imaginable. Below, we can see a button smash meme, but instead of urging me to go and vote for James Arrowsmith #1 for VP Sports and Health it leaves me wondering how someone could have lived for so long and not be able to understand basic meme formats, alas, I’ll never know.
Right then, time for some self-hate. There were only a couple of campaign videos used in this election and one of them was mine, so, here is ~300 words of pure unadulterated self-loathing pithy. The premise of the “Bring back the Lock In” video was to serve two purposes; 1. Let people know that the decision made to move the lock in was unjust and 2. That if they followed the right course of action, the Lock In could be moved back. So, how is it that this most ingratiated of issues became the talking point of the election? Well, feast your eyes on this absolute beauty:
Now, your first reaction is to either laugh, reminisce or cringe, all of which are ideal to the propagation of the video. Now the acting is no better than that of some GCSE drama students (I should know, I was one (got a B)) and the camera work makes ‘The Room’ look like an Oscar Cinematography Award winner by comparison. Ignoring that you can clearly see the quality of memes presented in this video; from cracking open a cold one with the bois to dancing in Persian this was clearly an attempt at portraying serious student politics in a light that even the most ketted up business management undergrad could understand and get behind. But of course the highlight of the video, for me at least, was the curb your enthusiasm theme at the end.
The set up was of course that the SU bar is normally rammed at a lock in, and yet, there we were, at a lock in and there was no such mania. The video as a whole was well memed but not just for the sake of it and allowed for a decent depth of understanding on the issues which it was trying to navigate, could have been better, 5/10.
The next video campaign used came from Saharla Ismail, a candidate for the VP Education position. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2HrMNhcw2M&feature=youtu.be . Parodying high school musical was a good idea and this video certainly didn’t lack enthusiasm, at least not from the candidate herself. Ultimately videos that fit slogans into popular music are designed to make you remember the slogan and/or candidate, in this instance however, I’d rather do neither.
And the last of the campaign videos, this time from Bahkai Wynter who was running to be the SU President. All eyes were on Bahkai to produce something spectacular as it was his campaign video the previous year that is given credit for his victory on getting elected to his current position as VP Socs and Comms. The video is framed as a spoof press conference: www.facebook.com/hypotemptv/videos/511224592611627/
During the interview Bahkai repeatedly tried to keep the topic of student issues as the main talking point, but in doing so he repeatedly brushed off questions about the North Korea crisis. For one to truly understand how their elected student leader will act on your behalf, you must first be informed as to their virtuous and distinct opinions on international geo-political crisis, how else would you be able to judge someone otherwise?
The “rapid change” that was promised would certainly have been a sight to behold, especially as the pace of change in the SU has historically been one of a more cautious nature. Maybe appropriately funding and staffing the departments that engage with students most effectively is a good idea, who would have guessed?
But wait, there’s more. We have our first counter meme of the election cycle, courtesy of VP Education candidate; CJ Goldblum. A photoshopped image of the now infamous Vote Leave bus.
What is normally a classic meme format (that is used completely incorrectly here), this is the best way to immediately imply that something is a lie, regardless of whether or not it actually is. However, the caption for this meme came with many spurious claims and to be honest using this article to debunk so many strawmen would not be a good use of time or a proper use of this article, however it is my article so I can do what I want, and with that in mind, THE LOCK IN WAS MOVED ON A FALSE PREMISE AND CAN BE MOVED BACK. *cough*
So that’s it, a glorious recap of the memes to follow a glorious week of positive and fair campaigning. Or is it? Yes. Or is it? No.
With just a little time left in the campaign, something incredible was created. A source of joy for many the impoverished fresher during the campaign was the promise of some free noodles from a certain group of candidates (including myself), but with this came the accusations that our promises like our noodles were limp. Ignoring the fact that instant noodles are firm bois until cooked, a detail ignored by those who dare to question the actions of the NoodleGang (as we became known colloquially). We’ll now skip a couple of steps in this story and go straight to the inception of “UWE Noodleposting”
“UWE What?!?” I hear you exclaim retroactively as I write this. Let me explain, throughout my time here at UWE it has always felt like something was missing, I’ve never had a place to properly pontificate about the noodles that I have consumed or am considering consuming. That is why UWE Noodleposting is so important, you must allow students to express their feelings whether that be about the diverse commentary on intersectional feminist poetry or about the oil to soy ratio in a late night bowl of ramen (I know which I’d rather talk about). Before I go on too long I should probably add some content that we have thus far received in the group.
I’m told that the latter of those two is OC, which just shows the dedication to noodleposting that we have discovered at UWE. Some may have read this and wondered what it has to do with the election at all, but those people forget that noodles are inherently political. For one to truly understand the depth of the discussion with relation to any political topic it can be viewed like a noodle. Initially, topics are hard and brittle, with no hope for a malleable discussion. But as the noodles are submerged in a broth they become more loose and open to take up the flavour infused within it. This analogy seemed like a good idea when I started it but I can’t quite complete the thought so I’m going to skip to the part where I tell you that there is an incredibly diverse group of parliamentarians that are moderators on the group as well.
So that’s it, for real this time. What a week it was. Memes that disappoint in an election that was anything but a disappointment. So, until next time, adieu!
You can join UWE Noodleposting here: www.facebook.com/groups/361922010950579/