Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US Representative for New York’s 14th district, was joined on stream by fellow Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar – and a bunch of streamers – to get out the vote.
There’s a meme that’s used when someone from the establishment – often a politician – tries to appear “down” with the kids. Remember Gordon Brown claiming he “loved” Sheffield indie-pop band Arctic Monkeys? Or David Cameron forgetting which football team he had allegedly “supported” for years? That sort of thing.
The meme features Steve Buscemi, the veteran actor, in a high school setting in an episode of 30 Rock. He’s wearing a baseball cap – backwards, natch – along with a t-shirt emblazoned with the logo “MUSIC BAND” and carrying a skateboard over his shoulder. He greets the schoolchildren by saying, “How do you do, fellow teens?” (Which has since been adapted into the memetic format as “fellow kids” because memes are an ever-evolving language.)
What happened on Tuesday night – with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, streaming indie smash Among Us on Twitch – was about as far from “how do you do, fellow kids?” as is humanly possible for a politician.
It helps that Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC for short, is as far removed from a stereotypical politician as possible. Born in the Bronx of Puerto Rican descent, she was working as a bartender when her campaign began in 2018. At 29, AOC was the youngest politician to take office in the United States and her positive approach – combined with a flair for social media – has made her a big hit with younger voters in particular.
She’s also a keen gamer, having reached Silver III in League of Legends earlier this year. Meanwhile, talks have been ongoing between AOC’s people and Gary Whitta to appear on his in-game talk shows – originally the Animal Crossing-set Animal Talking, since replaced by the Fall Guys-set Talk Guys – since lockdown began.
As part of the effort to get out the vote among young Americans – traditionally thought to favour the Democrats, never mind with the current state of the US – AOC has made her debut on Twitch. It’s fair to say her inaugural stream, playing the indie smash hit approximation of John Carpenter’s The Thing, Among Us, has been a roaring success.
At its peak, AOC’s debut Twitch stream saw over 400,000 concurrent viewers, making it one of the most-viewed Twitch streams in the platform’s history. Over the duration of the stream, she may have been viewed by over a million people. But it wasn’t just Ocasio-Cortez hunting impostors (or murdering crewmates) in Among Us. Ilhan Omar, the US Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district and another of the new breed of Democratic politicians, joined her colleague on stream.
A bunch of streamers also joined AOC to play Among Us – including Dr Lupo, Pokimane, Myth, Disguised Toast, Hasanabi and trans-rights streaming legend Hbomberguy – but it wasn’t just for fun. The roughly-three-and-a-half-hour stream was to encourage young voters, directing them to IWillVote.com.
Now, for a British politician getting “down with the kids”, cast your mind back to Boris Johnson – now Prime Minister – beating the tar out of ten-year-olds in a game of touch rugby where he clearly didn’t understand the “touch” part of the rules. I long for the day when the hyper-wealthy, silver-spoon politicians have all gone the way of the dinosaurs, and they’re replaced with the likes of AOC and Ilhan Omar.
Imagine, the future US President having one of the highest-viewed Twitch streams ever as one of their accolades. Future historians are going to have a wild time.