A 2019 General Election report by Tristan Hotham
Vaporwave is a microgenre of electronic music and an Internet meme that emerged in the early 2010s. Vaporwave is musically based on ironic interpretations of chillwave alongside 1980s and 1990s mood music styles such as smooth jazz or elevator music. The style?s visual aesthetic (often stylized as ????????????) incorporates early Internet imagery, VHS degradation, late 1990s web design, glitch art, and cyberpunk tropes, as well as anime, Greco-Roman statues and 3D-rendered objects.
So who was actually being sent the advert? As is visible in Graph 1, the video is clearly being targeted at young men exclusively. The Conservatives are using the language of heavy online users to reach young men, including potentially those who are purveyors of vaporwave content. The use of the vaporwave style is a draw for their message to ?get Brexit done? and elect Boris.
The Conservative?s clearly believe it is worthwhile to try out new types of communications to younger people, even though traditionally this is the demographic that support the Tories least.
Despite the dodgy associations the meme and style of vaporwave has gained over the last decade, this has not put the Conservatives off adopting the style to try and speak to younger people. The fact that they are preferring style over policy is fascinating and speaks to the cultural power of the internet.
It is also likely that the data generated from the advert will be used to generate new meme inspired content during the 2019 campaign. With the Conservatives clearly not afraid of trying to reach young men, potentially seeing a route into younger male demographics now Corbynmania has died down. However, this compartmentalisation of messages by gender and the use of a style associated with 4chan is highly problematic. The targeting of men to the exclusion of women in a style associated with the alt-right, throws up questions as to how targeting can be operationalised and what the Conservatives are trying to achieve. The adoption of this style throws up new questions as to the use of memes by political campaigns, as different memes are associated with different groups. If the Conservatives are trying to activate the alt-right via dog-whistle style advertising this is a major story. However, it is important to note that it may just be that the Conservatives are just trying to reach younger people online, using interesting content inspired by the internet.
Nevertheless, it is vital to note that these heavily online young men are exactly the type that may think this Boomer style adoption of internet culture is very very lame.
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