By Patricia Brotzel
What do bayonets, Big Bird, and binders have in common? The 2012 U.S. presidential debates, of course.
Social media was ripe with tweets and memes this month as U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney went head-to-head in a series of three debates.
Kalene Morgan, Humber Lakeshore’s public relations program co-ordinator, joined the latest trend and watched the debate live via Twitter and television.
“It really is engaging, especially for people in school. You view the debate on a whole different level. Engaging us in reactions in a way we have never done before,” Morgan told Humber News.
Morgan also talked about the validity of social media and whether it has any real world impact.
“Twitter does light up with all sorts of memes and they do translate to the media,” Morgan said. “If a story starts on Twitter and is popular, it gives them a life of their own where they translate into mainstream media.”
Morgan also said there has been speculation on whether Obama’s “we also have less horses and bayonets,” remark in the last debate on Monday night in Boca Raton, Fla., was planned.
The popular twitter account @romneybinders changed its handle to @horsesbayonette after the debate; the account had 34,341 followers at publication.
“Political consultants have now seen the power of a meme and by the third debate should look for a way to put it in there,” Morgan said. “If I was the communications director working with the candidate I would think about, in advance, phrases I might be able to use that would become a meme.”
In the first debate, Romney told moderator and public broadcast employee Jim Lehrer he would end funding to the U.S. broadcaster PBS.
“I like PBS, I love Big Bird. I actually like you too,” Romney said. “I’m sorry Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS.”
Obama’s campaign promptly seized the comment as an opportunity to release an anti-Romney ad featuring Big Bird.
However, Sesame Street creators were displeased with the campaign’s uses of the big yellow bird and asked that the ads be removed.
A U.S. costume company even produced what it calls a sexy Big Bird costume for the upcoming Halloween season, according to The Toronto Star.