With the American presidential election still fresh in our minds, it seems impossible to escape the worldwide discourse surrounding Donald Trump and Joe Biden in these recent weeks. social media remains alight with articles and snippets pertaining to both presidential candidates. As online media plays an ever more important role in swaying the masses with each subsequent election, it becomes ever more apparent when media appears to convey a particularly radical or controversial message. However, were one to take a peek President Donald Trump’s official YouTube page, it would seem that his recent videos are going one (or five) steps beyond this in hopes of swaying voters, delving as far as the realms of hyperbolic clickbait styled videos and Zombie uprising preparation guides.
Undermining a political opponent is nothing new in a presidential race. However, given the worldwide exposure that YouTube as a viewing platform has, it has never been easier to spot falsified and constructed narratives on phone screens and laptops. Trump’s recent campaign videos appear strikingly odd in comparison to his earlier newscast style material in regards to both presentation and content. Taking on the stylings of a typical ‘clickbait’ video, these videos feature bright thumbnails with exaggerated facial imagery, an abundance of emojis, and a shocking title. These are features commonly used by social media influencers to attract the attention of younger viewers with an abundance of video content at their fingertips. In fact, most social media influencers using this type of content stylisation are doing so to appeal to those ages eighteen and younger. This raises the question of why the American president was using this very style despite the fact that its target demographic is too young to vote?
Photography by Diego Leon
While the styling of this content is definitely an odd choice, it is the content of these videos that has sparked the question of Trump’s intentions with these YouTube videos. Uploaded on October 26th, a video entitled ‘Prevent a Zombie Uprising’ stood out to me in particular amongst the bunch. The thumbnail features a green-tinted Joe Biden accompanied by zombie emojis. Upon inspection, the video features a ten-second guide on how to “spot a zombie” which includes the advice to look out for someone with “a corpse-like appearance”, “aggressive behaviour”, and “a taste for human flesh” (all overlaid with various clips of Joe Biden). The video concludes with a call to “keep a zombie out of the white house”, before looping the same clip for half an hour. Not only does this video come across as juvenile in its attempts at defamation, but it also stretches the idea of a false narrative to its absolute limit. Are we to believe that this video constitutes a genuine guide to preventing a zombie uprising? Are we to believe that Joe Biden craves human flesh as a zombie would? A simple ten-second analysis of the video boils it down to comical levels of questionability as a piece of campaign sponsored advertisement material.
Trump’s zombie uprising video suggests a severe lowering of standards in regards to constructing false narratives through the use of new media. His use of stylised presentations and childish content raises many questions over the current president’s target audience with these YouTube videos. Were Trump’s voters twelve years of age with an inherent fear of a hostile zombie takeover, you just might be able to convince me that the president wasn’t grossly mishandling influential media avenues. However, the fact remains that the outgoing president was not quite sure who he was trying to appeal to by the end of his four-year term as U.S president. Perhaps Rick Grimes?