Long before Joe Biden became president of the United States, he enjoyed life on the internet as a viral meme. For eight years, then-President Barack Obama served valiantly as the comedic straight man to Vice President Biden’s wacky antics. In the aftermath of the 2016 election, memes would constantly depict Obama as the bigger man trying to politely ease former President Donald Trump into his transition, whereas the rascally Biden would urge him to “pull a Home Alone” or hide the White House’s WiFi password.
These amateur memes were emboldened by the Onion’s successful, mostly-ironic portrayal of Biden as the coolest guy who ever lived. In both videos and articles, it was common for the Onion to casually throw in lines about Joe Biden urging congressmen to do speed with him, or about him motorcycling over the Vietnam Memorial.
Perhaps the height of the Cool Guy Biden persona came in the 2018 publication of the comedy-thriller novel “Hope Never Dies,” in which a retired Biden and Obama work together as a spy duo kicking ass and taking names for 300 pages straight. The book was popular enough to warrant a sequel, “Hope Rides Again,” but soon the 2020 Democratic primaries began and the cool Biden memes seemed like they were on their way out.
Biden Memes and 2020
Throughout the 2020 primaries and general election, Biden’s online persona changed a lot. His oddball behavior stopped being commonly portrayed as effortless cool and increasing signs of his ongoing senility. The “Sleepy Joe” meme reigned supreme, with constant mockery of his age and his supposed inability to weave together a string of coherent sentences.
Among right-wing circles, these types of jokes about Biden are still popular. If you’re scrolling through shorts on YouTube or TikTok, there’s a decent chance you’ll find a bunch of popular AI-voiced shorts depicting a conversation between Trump, Biden, and Obama playing Minecraft together. Biden’s key personality trait is usually that he’s either old and demented or old and racist.
But as Biden won the 2020 election and led his party to a surprisingly good performance in the 2022 midterms, in came a steady trickle of Cool Biden memes, this time with an extra dose of irony involved. It became popular to see images of Biden casually licking an ice cream cone as one of his many defeated opponents raged behind him.
The juxtaposition between Biden’s perceived lack of effort and his continued electoral victories gets memers a ton of mileage, even among some leftists and right-wingers who don’t even like the guy.
In comes the Biden Blast meme
Nowadays, most of the memes around Biden originate from right-wing circles before being co-opted and changed around a bit by the left. The Let’s Go Brandon meme was intended as a coded insult towards Biden, for example, but those on the left converted it to the Dark Brandon meme with overwhelmingly positive results. For leftists who view Biden as a fairly bland politician with middle-of-the-road policies, this right-wing idea of him as some evil socialist overlord is inherently funny. The memes are geared towards leftists who look at right-wing claims about Biden’s agenda and think, “Oh, if only.”
Such is the case for the Biden Blast Meme, which originated from the thumbnail of conservative commentator Michael Knowles’ 2021 YouTube video.
The image was meant to portray Biden in an unflattering light, trying to point out the apparent hypocrisy in him restricting travel to America during a surge in the Omicron variant at the time. Nearly two years later in February 2023, a viral tweet used the image, and the rest is history.
The Biden Blast is, in its purest form, a photoshopped image of a confident Biden pointing his open palm towards the camera, as if to say, “Stop right there.” Or in less polite terms, to say, “Go fuck yourself.” One of its first recorded uses was as a reaction image, from a Biden supporter on Twitter telling a guy he was arguing with to go “get Biden blasted.”
This use is notable because the person he used the meme against did indeed get his account suspended immediately afterward, which led to a running joke about how the Biden Blast was a genuinely effective curse to inflict upon your enemies.
The main source of humor behind the meme is Biden’s perceived lack of forcefulness in real life. In his real-life interviews, he often seems slow, stumbling, slightly out of his depth; it’s hard to imagine him confidently raising his hand like that.
Subsequent uses of the meme added an orb to Biden’s han, and made his eyes glow intimidatingly as well.
Biden might look a little evil here, sure, but most of all he looks powerful, like he’s casually taking down an opponent he considers beneath him. It’s a funny change of pace from his real-life persona.
Much like COVID-19, the Biden Blast meme experienced its own wave of variants, as users would often edit the image and add audio to parody all sorts of anime series and video games.
Within just a few days, a new AI-created meme became the center of another viral tweet, which showed an excited Joe Biden running at full speed. This was called the Biden Bolt.
The use of these memes hasn’t been confined to any particular political group; it makes sense, considering they could easily work as an ironic mockery of Biden’s age or an extra ironic celebration of his achievements, depending on where you stand. The only real common denominator between users of the meme is youth; the Biden Blast Meme is big among Gen Z internet users. Many of them don’t seem to be using it in a partisan manner at all, but just enjoy the inherent comedy of the president posing like a Dragon Ball Z character.
Although the Biden Blast meme and its many variations might seem random and out of nowhere, it is in the end just the natural evolution of those memes from the Obama era. We’ve always found Biden to be a weird, funny guy, and we’ve always mined a lot of humor from imagining him to be a far crazier and aggressive dude than he actually is. But when you remember how the Onion used to portray the current President, the Biden Blast memes start to make perfect sense.