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Joe Biden looked out a window and instantly became a meme

Pensive Biden has some Serial theories he’d like to talk to you about.


Eric Geller

Internet Culture

Posted on Dec 8, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 1:13 am CDT

Few politicians are as consistently meme-ready as Vice President Joe Biden. Whether it’s eating ice cream or starring in comedy skits with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, pretty much everything the vice president does is fodder for the Cult of Biden.

On Sept. 18, Getty Images photographer Olivier Douliery took this photo of Biden looking pensive during a meeting with President Barack Obama and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. This weekend, the photo resurfaced, and the Biden-hungry Internet—especially Twitter—saw it and got to work.

The “Pensive Biden” photo took off as a meme because it clashed hilariously with the predominant aspects of the Biden caricature. Most Biden memes, including his ice cream outing, his skit with the star of HBO’s Veep, and his maverick persona on satirical news site the Onion, play on the vice president’s perceived lack of discipline and his endless reservoir of energy and authenticity. 

Douliery’s photo portrays Biden in exactly the opposite light: the elder statesmen casting a grim glance on a worrisome scene, perhaps lost in dark thoughts about the stormy future of a chaotic world. The photo recalls the international relations expert who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for four years during his 36-year Senate career.

Somehow, Biden’s image always seems to benefit from his endless parody. The Internet might have been curious about what Biden was really thinking, but all it could do was put “Uncle Joe” thoughts in his head.

Photo via richiec/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Dec 8, 2014, 10:41 am CST