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Stock photographs are meant to be generic looking, easily employed in a number of situations that allow the viewer to imagine themselves as the protagonist of whatever else is going on. This is one of the reasons that “Distracted Boyfriend” became one of the biggest memes of the last few years.
It was so easy to project anything you wanted onto the three main characters.
Ironically, the runaway popularity of the meme made its models easily recognizable stars to anyone who spends almost any amount of time online, totally destroying their average Joe/Jane vibe.
The couple has become synonymous with, if not infidelity, then at least two people who have some issues to work on in their relationship. The Swedish government even went so far as to call the meme “sexist”.
Meaning they might not have been the best choice for a billboard campaign promoting families.
The happy couple gracing the Hungarian government’s campaign advertising its new family policy is already famous on the internet...and not for being madly in love. pic.twitter.com/wBljm6eiF7— Valerie Hopkins (@VALERIEin140) March 13, 2019
Anti-Juncker billboards are being replaced with advertisements of the Hungarian government’s "family protection action plan”.— Szabolcs Panyi (@panyiszabolcs) March 13, 2019
But this new campaign seems to be designed by some less Internet-savvy people. OMG.
You see Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has decided that Hungary needs young people to start cranking out more Hungarian babies. What better way to promote family life than to show two young people cuddling on a couch? The implication might seem to be that the couple is about to get it on sans-contraception, but actually, the English translation of the billboard roughly means something like “Young married couples are receiving support while they expect a baby,”
That’s because Hungary is passing legislation to incentivize people to start having more babies. For instance, they have suspended income tax for women with four or more children. Now obviously, there are immigrants who would love come to Hungary but Orbán wants Hungarian children who look like goddamn Hungarians thank you very much.
“In all of Europe there are fewer and fewer children, and the answer of the west to this is migration,” said Orbán in his annual state of the nation address according to the Guardian. “They want as many migrants to enter as there are missing kids, so that the numbers will add up. We Hungarians have a different way of thinking. Instead of just numbers, we want Hungarian children. Migration for us is surrender.”
Not surprisingly, the government is being roundly mocked for the new billboards and its anti-immigration stance.
What made this billboard possible is that photographer Antonio Guillem did a whole series of photos with the couple.
This, as you may know, led to people creating entire Distracted Boyfriend backstories.
Obviously, a new twisted has now been added. Which raises the question: Is the distracted boyfriend going to be a good father, or will he simply transform into a distracted dad?
David Britton is a writer and comedian based in Rhinebeck, New York who focuses on internet culture, memes, and viral news stories. He also writes for the Hard Times and is the creator of StoriesAboutWizards.com.