For excellency in turning Valentine’s messages into viral topical memes, consider taking a cue from Puerto Rico. Two of its lead meme-makers, Radical Cowry and El Blogiante, have both churned out exceptionally funny ways to woo a lover, loads of them with political implications and with references to the post-Maria struggle. Check out nine of our favorite #PostalesQueEnamoran below.
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz joined Hillary Clinton as a member of Trump’s list of Nasty Women (aka a litany of examples of fragile masculinity in action) on September 30 last year, just 10 days post-storm. Criticizing the federal government’s inefficient recovery effort earned her the distinction, but when she clapped back – she wore a black T-shirt reading NASTY, in stark-white all-caps – in a TV interview for Univision, she won herself a place in the Nasty Women Hall of Fame – and in our hearts.
The Rosselló family is the subject of many a meme: Pedro Rosselló, governor from ’93 to 2001 and widely associated with government corruption; Beatriz Rossello, whose recent gift of elegant candles to municipalities still without electricity didn’t go over well; and, of course, current governor Ricardo Rosselló, condemned by many as having ushered along the devolvement of disaster into full-blown crisis.
One of Rosselló’s latest bright ideas for the betterment of Puerto Rico is to privatize the power authority, which he purports will bring reliable service at lower costs to consumers. The electrical workers union (Unión de Trabajadores de la Industria Eléctrica y Riego or UTIER) doesn’t buy it, though, and neither does Mayor Yulín Cruz.
Puerto Rico’s power authority (PREPA) was so outdated and fragile that, before Maria, blackouts were already occurring regularly – although not island-wide and all at once, of course. And while about a third of the island remains in the dark nearly five months later, many Puerto Ricans are worried the utility – if controlled by companies that prioritize profits instead of the needs of the people – will raise rates to unmanageable heights.
Last night, an explosion at Monacillo, a San Juan substation, caused a major blackout in several northeastern municipalities. Power had been restored pretty comprehensively (although not fully) in those areas already, and despite intermittent outages, downgrading disaster preparedness happens organically, so most folks likely hadn’t charged their cell phones or back-up batteries when the lights went out.
Still, a Radical Cowry meme emerged, like a phoenix from the ashes of the fire (nobody was hurt), carrying some catharsis in sexual humor: “I want to make you explode into bits like the Monacillo power plant.”
Spanish fluency aside, if you’re not aware that Palo Seco is one of Puerto Rico’s central power plants, you’ll need this explanation: Located on the northern coast in Toa Baja, near San Juan, Palo Seco had been closed a month prior to the storm for allegedly unsafe conditions, but when the Central San Juan station failed repeatedly post-storm, the plant was miraculously rehabilitated for lower-capacity use.
Even with only a couple of its units in use, though, putting Palo Seco back in the mix was a huge boost in stabilizing the grid. Palo Seco has upped power generation significantly; its continued use turns on not only people’s lights, but, ahem, their metaphoric “palo secos,” too.
Wanda Rolón is the Puerto Rican version of Joel Osteen, Tammy Faye, or any other bewilderingly powerful evangelical celebrity pastor you can think of. She’s blatantly homophobic (after Ricky Martin came out, she declared him an ambassador of hell) and, even worse, her followers have made her absurdly wealthy – which makes her political lobbying all the more frightening.
The mention of $500 dollars here is a reference to Rolón asking for an offering of the same sum from her loyal fans; it’s something she does shamelessly on the regular, despite the economic recession of the last decade, with the promise of prayers in exchange.
This one’s a meta-meme, really. The women pictured were featured in a Bacardi ad last August that went viral because it was so, so bad. The liquor brand suggest upping your social media game by “posting two or three stories,” which will leave them “wanting more” and asking “where I’m at.”
It was part of Bacardi’s global “We Are the Night” campaign; the commercial also included the “Executives of the Hangout,” who had a whole bunch of long-winded nothing to say in their own bits. (One part can be summarized as “being a bartender and serving people is a privilege because I’m a bartender serving people and it’s a privilege.”)
All that cringe-worthy content was meme-ified rapidly, and astoundingly thoroughly. There’s also a parody version (it’s hilarious), and the girls even showed up post-storm in a meme (from Radical Cowry, like this one) with a yellow electrical authority hat, explaining that “the trick is to energize nine or 10 percent, and leave them wanting more.”
Radical Cowry, thank you for bringing these two girls’ expert advice into the context of our love lives, too.
Posted by Radical Cowry on Wednesday, February 7, 2018
For those who plan to perrear their way through V-Day: This one’s for you. “El Tiburón,” a 2005 reggaeton classic from Alexis y Fido, includes a call-and-response chorus—the answer to the question posed there being “que me lleve el tiburón.” We’ll let you figure out what that means.
The latest flurry of memes in response to statehood came with the public vote organized last June, most of them humorous depictions of how much better Puerto Rico could be as proper part of the United States. But the real underlying joke is, of course, that the island is never going to be granted statehood, no matter how hard its pro-Statehood politicians try. (Or how much they spend: That referendum cost between $8 and $11 million. Meanwhile, the Governor was closing public schools, proposing a massive budget reduction to the University of Puerto Rico, and cutting pensions.)
Colonialism is just too good of a deal for the US, and yet Governor Rosselló and the current administration love to tout statehood as Puerto Rico’s would-be savior. This meme pokes fun at the continued failed attempts, translating roughly to “I want statehood in any way possible.”
Oscar López Rivera, an icon of Puerto Rican independence, is spotlighted in this meme. The former member of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), a militant activist group that claimed responsibility for more than 70 bombings in U.S. cities the ’70s and early ’80s. But despite a lack of proof that he was involved with those acts, he was still charged with seditious conspiracy, and was expected to serve a total of 70 years in federal prison. He spent 35 years incarcerated, and was was recently released when Obama commuted his sentence.
Support for the 74-year-old, who is one of the longest-serving political prisoners in history and spent 12 of those years in solitary confinement, runs deep. It crested significantly in the movement to secure his release before the end of Obama’s term, of course, with both Bernie Sanders and Lin-Manuel Miranda rallying behind him (and San Juan Mayor Yulín Cruz, too), plus an online petition to the White House that earned upwards of 100,000 signatures.