No important cultural moment can exist without memes, and the defining viral image of President Joe Biden’s inauguration this week was Senator Bernie Sanders sitting by himself with his arms and legs crossed, bundled up in a surgical mask, the coat from the other meme, and a pair of thick wool mittens. The image of the senator from Vermont’s incongruous outfit and pose got Photoshopped into just about every scenario one can think of, from sitting in front of the pork store with Paulie Walnuts from The Sopranos to sitting on the Moon.
Sanders is dispositionally not interested in memes, which is of course what makes him so memeable. He told Seth Meyers on Thursday’s Late Night that he had no idea that he’d become the meme of the day when he put on the mittens.
“I was just sitting there, trying to keep warm, trying to pay attention to what was going on,” Sanders said. While he confirmed to Meyers that he had seen the memes, Sanders didn’t say which ones he liked.
Sanders’s mittens were made by a schoolteacher from Essex Junction, Vermont, who has been “somewhat overwhelmed” with the attention her handiwork has received, the senator said. (The mitten-maker, Jen Ellis, clarified to Slate that the mittens are not knitted, they’re “sewn from repurposed and upcycled sweaters,” and she doesn’t have any more mittens to sell and she just wants to focus on finishing the report cards she has to do.)
Sanders and Meyers did, of course, talk about some substantive issues, like how the thing that unites all Americans is the need for healthcare and a decent-paying job, the impeachment of former President Donald Trump (Sanders is for it, but quickly), and Sanders’ new job as the chair of Senate Budget Committee. But Meyers had to wrap it up by sharing one last meme of Sanders sitting on the bench next to Forrest Gump.
LMAO WHO MADE THIS pic.twitter.com/80aAw984Yq
— subaru-chan (@CozySubaru) January 21, 2021
“I think this is my favorite one because I just don’t think you would sit there and listen to Forrest Gump that long,” Meyers joked. “I think you would get up and leave that bench.” Sanders laughed but didn’t seem to really get the reference. He doesn’t have time to watch Forrest Gump.
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