Straight outta memes? White House's Iran deal tweet draws backlash
For the past several weeks, the internet has been taken over by viral images based on the poster for “Straight Outta Compton,” a newly released biopic about the hip-hop group N.W.A. Even BuzzFeed began to wonder if people have “gone too far” with the meme.
Someone at the White House thought otherwise:
The internet was not amused.
One Twitter user blasted it as “sophomoric idiocy”:
.@TheIranDeal Tell me this is a parody account. I don't want to believe this is the sophomoric idiocy of people associated with this Admin.— --- Bonk --- (@BonkPolitics) August 13, 2015
Another asked the White House to “get better at lying, or at least be any good at it at all.”
“For the love all that is holy, stop,” said another.
The White House and Hillary Clinton were “competing in dumb,” said another commenter, referring to the Clinton campaign’s odd request on Wednesday for thoughts on student debt “in 3 emojis or less”:
How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 12, 2015
Of the Republican presidential hopefuls, who generally oppose the deal, only Florida Senator Marco Rubio bothered to address the White House's meme on Twitter. He did not appear to understand how memetic warfare worked, though.
Actually, this deal guarantees that Iran will have a nuclear weapon in 15 years. https://t.co/8XrhDS5Iic— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 13, 2015
Numerous commenters have wondered whether @TheIranDeal was a parody account. A White House staffer who spoke to BuzzFeed on condition of anonymity confirmed the Obama administration stood by both the account and the specific tweet.
“We have been clear that we would be employing creative strategies, including digital outreach, to draw attention from as broad an audience as possible (particularly a younger audience) to the Iran deal,” the staffer said. “To the extent this Tweet reaches audiences that our more traditional Tweets have not, it will have accomplished the intended objective, especially if it spurs them to learn more about the deal.”
This is not the first time the White House has used Twitter to push its Iran agenda. In April, following the fiery speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the Congress, the White House sent out a tweet mocking Netanyahu’s bomb graphic:
The five permanent UN Security Council members - China, France, Russia, UK and the US - and Germany, dubbed 'P5+1', reached an agreement with Iran over the country's nuclear program after years of negotiations. Under the terms of the deal, finalized on July 14 in Vienna, Iran would agree to scale back its civilian nuclear program, never weaponize its fissile stockpiles, and allow international inspections in exchange for lifting a severe UN embargo imposed in 2006 at US insistence.
Russia, China, and the European powers fully back the agreement. US President Barack Obama has called it the only way to avoid a new war in the Middle East. But the sales pitch by Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry didn't seem convincing enough to lawmakers, lobbied by the Israeli government.
Several prominent Jewish lawmakers among the Democrats have already signaled they would join the Republicans in voting against the deal when the House and the Senate reconvene in September.
One critic of the White House has already resorted to framing his opposition in – what else? – a “Straight outta” meme: