The ‘Where’s Bernie’ memes have come to Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is taking the internet by storm and Winnipeg is no exception.

Seen at this week’s historic U.S. presidential inauguration wearing a poofy jacket and knitted mittens, striking a comically disgruntled pose, Senator Sanders has become a wintery meme sensation.

“Everybody just needed something to be happy,” said David Robin, who created several images of Sanders at iconic Winnipeg spots. 

Robin, who works in marketing, has achieved internet fame for memes in the past, like when he recreated the poster for the film “The Hangover” to feature players from the Winnipeg Jets.

Once Sanders’s inauguration outfit started gaining traction online, Robin couldn’t resist making his own set of memes with a Winnipeg focus.

“I was, like, this is super funny. But (I knew) I can’t compete with the world-wide web, so I decided to make it more local,” said Robin.

Robin’s set of Sanders photos, which includes images of the senator posted up at The Forks and Assiniboine Zoo, has garnered hundreds of likes and retweets on Twitter.

But Robin isn’t the only one creating Sanders memes in Winnipeg.

Plenty of other Winnipeggers are taking part in the #WheresBernie trend, as it’s been branded online.

Even school boards are taking part, with Pembina Trails School Division tweeting out their own photo of Sanders at the school division’s administrative office. 

Tiffany Pearson, who created her own meme of Sanders advocating for more bike-and-pedestrian-friendly streets in Winnipeg, says the senator certainly fits in with the city’s culture.

“Bernie looks like an honorary Canadian,” said Pearson, pointing out how, unlike other inauguration attendees decked out in designer outfits, Sanders was dressed for winter.

“He can be transported right into Winnipeg with those mittens and his parka,” said Pearson, “He was ready for the hard-core cold.”

This isn’t Sanders’ first time becoming a viral sensation.

Back when he was a potential presidential candidate, Sanders became a meme sensation for his “I am once again asking” fundraising video. There were even meme template websites dedicated to the senator.

Fenwick McKelvey, a professor of communications studies at Concordia University, researches meme culture. McKelvey said Sanders is uniquely suited to “meme-ification.”

When it comes to why Sanders, specifically, became a viral sensation following the inauguration, McKelvey said it may be because memes allow for a more lighthearted form of political engagement.

“A lot of people were excited, it was turning the page, and so Bernie Sanders is one reminder,” said McKelvey. “You can also think about Michelle Obama’s outfit and the ‘Marvel energy’ she was bringing.”

“I think that for people that were taking part and enjoying that moment, a part of the way they can do that is by sharing and laughing at memes online.” 

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