The United States Postal Service is currently in the midst of a funding crisis that has left many fearful over the fate of their mail-in ballots in the upcoming preseidential election.
In a bid to raise awareness and support for the USPS, people are making fancams (short videos usually used by fans online to glorify certain musicians) and memes that go viral.
Political group The Lincoln Project has been accused of stealing and re-using someone’s fancam without credit.
Fancams were in the spotlight earlier this summer as K-pop stans spammed them in police reporting apps and racist hashtags as a method of activism.
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The United States Postal Service is in a funding and political crisis. As Business Insider’s Grace Panetta reported, the service is currently under financial strain that’s been made worse by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has left Americans more reliant on mail than in years past.
In the face of a looming election in which voting by mail is anticipated to be a crucial component, the president has made (and later walked back) comments in which he suggested that he would refuse to authorize funding for the USPS in order to hinder mail-in voting. The US Postmaster General, Republican political donor named Louis DeJoy who, per CNN, has holdings in USPS competitors, has come under fire for cost-cutting measures that are causing service disruptions in some parts of the United States.
In response to the crisis and discourse about the fate of the USPS, many online have responded by making memes, fancams (short videos usually used by fans online to glorify certain musicians), and edits that endeavor to bring awareness and support to the US Postal Service.
Fancams have the potential go viral and carry messages with them
Taylor Marsyla, an 18-year-old freelance illustrator and animation student, posted one of the most viral USPS fancams on Twitter on August 14. Set to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s triumphant hit “WAP,” the short video features the kind of warm, scintillating filters typical of fan edits, layered over footage of postal workers and trucks. Three days after it was originally posted, the video stands at 1.8 million views at Twitter, with approximately 60,500 retweets and 176,200 likes.
“The USPS is near and dear to my heart because as an artist myself I know so many artists rely on the postal service to run their small businesses/keep themselves afloat,” Marsyla told Insider. “So I figured a fancam would be a lighthearted way to bring awareness but also maybe make my mutuals and fellow artists laugh. I totally did not expect it to take off the way it did!”
In the comments and quote retweets of Marsyla’s video, others dropped information about the USPS’ funding crisis as well as praise for postal workers.
Twitter isn’t the only platform with viral USPS memes and fancams. One TikTok from 23-year-old Shane Meyers amassed over 720,000 views and over 315,000 likes in just a day after it was posted.
Meyers told Insider that he thought attaching a call to action (in this case, texting ‘USPS’ to 50409 to connect with ResistBot, which contacts your congressional representatives) to a potentially viral meme was a great way to bring eyes to an issue. “I feel like by pairing those two together, the younger generations can have a huge impact on politics,” he told Insider.
Meyers’ fancam — which he said many on TikTok told him was actually an “edit,” or a compilation of clips with music and soft visual filters that many still call fancams — features footage of USPS workers set to Flo Milli’s “In The Party.” In addition to the call in the caption to text ResistBot, it also features in-video text that reads, “I just think it’d be funny if a USPS fancam made it to the top of #bluelivesmatter,” the hashtag associated with the pro-police movement created in response to Black Lives Matter.
Meyers told Insider that they thought there would be a sweet irony in using the generally conservative Blue Lives Matter hashtag to boost the pro-USPS message, which has now come to be associated with left-leaning politics. “I also knew that that sort of message would go viral, and it was about getting the message about texting the ResistBot ‘USPS’ out in front of a ton of people.”
Fancams were in the spotlight earlier this summer and have become a meme in and of themselves
In June, K-pop stans broadly garnered acclaim online for spamming police reporting apps and hashtags with fancams in the goal of burying any footage of protesters. They also applied the strategy to hashtags like #whitelivesmatter on Twitter and Instagram by taking them over with fancams, a move that some Black fans criticized given that it elevated the hashtags and effectively caused them to trend.
Fancams themselves were a meme before they entered the spotlight. K-pop fans’ tendency to spam fancams in Twitter interactions inspired other fandoms on stan Twitter to use the tactic.
That spread helped spawn the “f-ck it, fancam” meme. The humor of the meme is largely predicated upon giving a character or institution that typically wouldn’t have gotten the fancam treatment their own edit. That includes, of course, the USPS.
Both Marsyla and Meyers said that they thought the music choice for their fancams aided in the effect. Black women like Megan Thee Stallion and Flo Milli, in particular, have soundtracked many of 2020s viral video trends, ranging from the “Savage” TikTok craze to Flo Milli’s “Beef FloMix,” which is a popular sound used in stan Twitter edits. Their voices and verses are emblematic of fancam culture writ large.
The humorous, viral potential of fancams is now being recognized by political groups. The Lincoln Project, a conservative super PAC with an anti-Trump mission, came under fire for appearing to lift Taylor Marsyla’s USPS fancam without credit, changing the music to “Postman” by Rod Lee and tweaking the caption.
Marsyla said that The Lincoln Project didn’t, and still hasn’t, contacted her about the video, saying, “I am however not surprised that their repost of the video didn’t reach the same level of virality because by censoring it they definitely inadvertently made it way less funny.”
Insider has reached out to The Lincoln Project for comment via its website contact form but did not immediately receive a response.
As the USPS’ funding crisis has come to light, memes about the service have been ramping up
Even before the inevitable fancams, US Postal Service memes and calls to action have been ciruclating on Twitter. USPS merch spread online, with many lamenting that a stylish USPS crop top appears to have sold out.
Among other memes, one tweet has become a refrain online: “We must sexualize the USPS in order to save it.”
While, like any subject of popular discussion, saving the USPS has been thoroughly meme-ified, the jokes for many come from a place of genuine concern.
“On a personal level, I had to vote by mail because I’m registered in Florida, but currently living in New York,” Meyers, who made the TikTok USPS fancam, told Insider. “But when you multiply that by the millions and millions and millions of Americans who deserve to have their voices be heard, it just becomes so clear to me that this is an important cause and it shouldn’t be one that’s divided along political lines.”
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