Thanks Obama

In late 2009, the conservative blog Authentic Connecticut Republican published an image in the style of a de-motivational poster sarcastically stating Thanks Obama.

In 2013, the International Business Times published the opinion piece Smaller US Paychecks In 2013 Spark Twitter Outrage From Disgruntled Obama Voters, linking to the apparent evidence on Twitter.

The referenced tweets by themselves didn’t have much impact. Posted by users with very low follower counts, the tweets lacked hashtags and mostly received zero likes or retweets. Conservative sites like twitchy were key in focusing the attention.

Since many of the original tweets expressed disappointment about a few dollars less on a paycheck, more meme-savvy users started to associate them with white people problems, as exemplified by infomercials which picture the slightest discomfort (typically caused by an abundance of possessions and free time) as grave issues. This sparked a wave of parody GIFs being made, combining the Thanks Obama catch-phrase with video sequences from home shopping channels, ironically putting the blame for everything that could possibly go wrong on the president. A Tumblr blog collected many examples.

The practice went on, with the Reddit channel r/ThanksObama being a core source of production. Towards the end of Obama’s presidency, the former parody community turned into producing artifacts of plain admiration for Obama. The turning point was when Obama appropriated the catch-phrase for himself in early 2015.

The first instance was a Facebook video promoting the health care reform, which was in turn summed up in a Vine clip by the user Samir Mezrahi, which gained over 59 million loops.

Today, the largely family-friendly Thanks Obama clips are easily circulated in corporate environments via Giphy, which offers seamless integration into business software like Slack.

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