Could witty puns, comedic nuances and photoshopped images decide the federal election? Behind the scenes of complex policies and political jargon, an unconventional comedic war is being waged in an attempt to persuade the nation’s young voters.
With the federal election looming, voters under the age of 21 will have a key decision to make for the very first time. In an effort to distil complicated policy and influence these young first-time voters, the youth wings of both major parties are producing a magnitude of ‘memes’ on social media.
A ‘meme’ is a piece of viral content that spreads rapidly on the internet, often with the aim of conveying a particular theme or meaning. In the days leading up to the federal election, these digital nuances are plastering the Facebook feeds of young voters in key marginal electorates.\
“Our content is helping young people (especially under 25) engage with politics and election issues, our posts have reached 1 million people the last month so we’re engaging with a portion of the population that traditional media struggles to reach” said the creator of ‘ALP Spicy Meme Stash’, a Facebook page with an audience of over 80,000 young people.
On the other side of the fence is the ‘Australian Green Memes for Actually Progressive Teens’, which has an audience of over 18,000 young voters on Facebook, churning out a variety of memes with pop-culture references from Game of Thrones through to The Simpsons and Orange is the New Black in an effort to demystify complex policies and political jargon for young voters who are new to the political scene.
“They’re often a play on pop culture, incorporate puns, and we specifically use them with political overtones. Most importantly though, they’re a reprieve from the very serious voice most political pages use,” said Michael Trembath who runs the page.
“An issue has arisen on the campaign trail in Katherine, a funny line was thought of in Sydney, and a meme is generated in Adelaide – all within the space of a few hours, and we do this every day,” he added.
In support of the coalition is the Facebook page ‘Innovative and Agile Memes’ which was created by fans of Malcolm Turnbull in the 2016 election. While the coalition leadership may have changed, the page continues to churn out content to their 36,000 fans in a bid to discredit the opposition’s policies while boosting Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s profile.
With the Australian Electoral Commission reporting a record-high number of young people registered to vote, could this comedic digital battlefront influence and win over young voters at the polls?