Morning Update: Politics As Memes And Fandoms

What AOC's rise tells us about digital partisanship, a potential Brexit deal, South Africa's elections.

Why is everyone obsessed with AOC? Let’s analyze the memes.

To a certain extent, the fact that I can say “AOC” and you immediately know I’m talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is itself a testament to how the first-time Congresswoman has injected herself into the current political moment.

Ocasio-Cortez — AOC — has inspired an obsession among those who watch American politics. Her appearances at Capitol Hill hearings become instant viral clips and Twitter quote-tweet fodder. There are angry YouTube “takedowns,” fawning and lo-fi Instagram stickers, and GIFs galore.

As AOC inspires fandoms and anti-fandoms, we’ve sought to quantify her social media dominance in order to better understand how we experience politics in 2019. A detailed examination of her digital persona offers a glimpse into the new digital partisanship.

Read our deep dive into the data and the details of what happens when politics and fandoms merge.

Theresa May now believes she can do a Brexit deal with Jeremy Corbyn

It’s been a rough few weeks for Brexit progress, but UK government sources are now confident that an agreement can be reached with the opposition over a Brexit deal that can pass a vote in the House of Commons.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is close to striking a deal with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, involving a customs arrangement and “dynamic alignment” on workers’ rights.

Such a deal would finally break the months-long impasse over Brexit. However, it would come at a significant cost to both political parties.


Up to 41 people may have died after a plane caught fire in Russia. The plane made an emergency landing in Moscow and erupted in flames, forcing passengers to evacuate on the tarmac. Of the 78 people onboard, authorities said 37 survived.

Trump picked Mark Morgan, an Obama-era Border Patrol head, to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Morgan, a career FBI official, headed US Border Patrol for the final six months of the Obama administration. In January 2019, he came out as a fierce supporter of Trump's border wall.

A family of four and their three dogs were found dead of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in their home. Police checked in on the Reitter family when relatives said they haven’t been able to reach the family for days. When firefighters entered the home, they found carbon monoxide readings of 1,000 parts per million — the maximum reading on the meter.

YouTuber Austin Jones has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for child porn. Jones pleaded guilty in February to enticing six underage girls to send him explicit videos to “prove” they were his “biggest fan.”

A man filmed himself wearing a werewolf mask to burn, shoot, and torture a 2-year-old girl while she sept, authorities said. This is a difficult story, and I won’t detail it here. Andrew Bennett Ross Celaius, who was dating the child's mother, is facing charges of aggravated child abuse.

Avengers: Endgame just beat the $2.12 billion box office record set by Titanic. Now all that's left is Avatar's all-time global box office record of $2.788 billion. Having said that: Endgame has been out only for 12 days.

South Africa has an anti-immigration problem and it looks a lot like America’s

A few days before South Africans head to the polls, tensions are running high.

African nationals living in South Africa — whether as undocumented migrants, asylum-seekers, refugees, or citizens — have long struggled for full inclusion in society. But as the election approaches, anti-immigrant sentiment in the country has skyrocketed.

Some of the resentment might sound familiar: A government minister claims they crowd hospitals; The largest opposition party promises to “secure the borders” against them; Police stop them at random, demanding to see their IDs.

Sometimes, their own neighbors violently turn against them, looting their shops, stabbing them in the street, and even burning them alive.

Advocates tell us the situation has worsened for the African immigrant community, and that the rise of global nationalism, particularly in the US from President Donald Trump, is to blame.

This baggage handler served a fierce dance to a planeload of passengers

Luu Vailuu has worked as a ramp agent for Hawaiian airlines for 10 months.

His job usually involves loading and unloading passengers' baggage, and directing planes to their gate. But every once in a while, he goes off, providing the best dance moves while travelers look on.

Last week, Vailuu went viral after dancing up a storm after he finished loading up a plane. Passengers couldn’t get enough. Enjoy!

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