April Fools’ Day is often considered the worst day of the year to be online. Insipid, marketing-driven pranks abound; our social contract about what constitutes “humor” is suspended; and it can be difficult to tell what you should take seriously. In other words, it’s just like every other day of the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
On April 1, Ted Cruz “Rickrolled” Donald Trump with a video titled “Donald Trump Accepts Cruz’s Debate Invitation.” Trump has not, in fact, agreed to debate Cruz—the video cuts to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
Leave it to Ted Cruz to invoke the Rickroll, a meme that’s been mainstream so long that even Ted Cruz knows about it.
Certainly, you could argue that Cruz is fighting childish behavior with teenage Internet behavior—albeit of the historical variety. You could even point out that our Democratic president has frequently invoked memes and Internet culture to meet the people where they are. (Thanks, Obama!)
But with a Rickroll, Cruz meets the people where they are not: in the year 2007.