By MIKE DONOHUE
On November 22nd, 1963, shots rang out in Dallas, Texas, that ended a life, a presidency, and an era in which we as Americans believed in so strongly: an era of hope, of dreams, and the illusion of a safety in which such things could happen elsewhere, but they could never happen here. The world mourned, but none so much as we did.
This was our horror, in our home. Grief washed over the nation, and it lingered. Christmas passed barely noticed. New Year’s Eve celebrations were non-existent. It seemed almost blasphemous to allow ourselves to experience any joy after the magnitude of what had occurred.
And then, after six long weeks, four young men from England landed at the newly renamed John F. Kennedy airport, and with an explosive sigh of relief, Beatlemania was unleashed. Like a shaken Etch-A-Sketch, the oppressive pain of the nation seemed erased overnight as the country exploded in joy at this new musical phenomenon. Their music and images were everywhere. The country could not get enough of the Beatles. After what we had been through, we needed them, and we needed what they allowed us to be.
Volumes have been written about the impact of the Beatles on this country. Most, if not all, mention the timing of their arrival, finally giving our country permission to shake off the shackles of grief that had paralyzed us after our national tragedy.
Which brings me to Bernie memes.
After the most painful year in our lifetimes, a year of more than 400,000 lives lost to a pandemic, thousands of businesses lost, millions of workers left with significantly reduced income, if any at all, the trauma of the most controversial American presidency, racial protests set against the glorification of white supremacy, and terrorists invading the Capitol, the lone image of Senator Bernie Sanders, sitting by himself in a folding chair, clad in a practical winter coat and mittens, has become the 2021 version of Beatlemania.
Within hours, a phenomenon spread like wildfire across social media. People have seized on Bernie’s image and had a field day inserting it everywhere: album covers, classic paintings, movie scenes, locations ranging from the Last Supper to local pizzerias.
After the trauma of 2020, it’s so good to breathe a sigh of relief, laugh and just have fun.
Even old curmudgeons like me have joined in and laughed out loud at the creativity, the humor, and the plain old absurdity of the craze.
By next week, I’m sure it will have worn out. I doubt very much that Bernie memes will have the lasting impact on our culture that the Beatles did.
But God, we needed this right now. We really needed this.
Mike Donohue is a father, grandfather and friend who hopes for a better world for his family and loved ones to live in. He is a licensed chemical dependency counselor, former professional musician, political moderate, and has published articles related to local music, addiction recovery, and human rights.