After Trump-supporting goons smashed windows, took selfies with Capitol police, and lounged in Nancy Pelosi’s office on Wednesday, you might deduce that there aren’t any rules to this stuff — or, at the very least, cops make their own distinctions about who they apply to. However, there are clear, unwritten rules on social media when something like a failed coup attempt goes down: that is, sit this one out, or try your best to shoehorn whatever content you have into the grotesque, unavoidable moment before you.
Beyond your Adam Schefter types, who would continue to break NFL transactions through nuclear war, the Twitter timeline was almost entirely consumed by reactions to the insurrection. Everyone from your armchair pundits to national media anchors were unequipped for the moment, recoiling in shock and awe at the raid — what are we, some kind of banana republic! But some news outlets really weren’t sure of how to approach this thing, resulting in the unintentionally camp coup-celebrity news crossover brought to you by the E! News social media accounts:
There it was on the E! Instagram account — Getty images from the siege, with superimposed quotes from stars like Sarah Jessica Parker, Jane Lynch, Demi Lovato, and more. “This is not America,” said Chloë Grace Moretz. Pink was “ashamed of what is happening in Washington.” Clumsy, irresistible, and a remarkable juxtaposition of stars with the people who actually know how to wield power in America now, the E! posts are just a natural outgrowth of the past five years of pop-culture reporting. President Donald Trump has consumed everything in his orbit, and impelled so many writers and public figures to awkwardly stretch out of their comfort zone into political maneuvering.
Speaking of Getty, the visual media company unwillingly became a main character of its own. After one viral post circulated of the smirking lectern bandit waving to the camera, so many users thought the caption — “Via Getty, one of the rioters steals a podium from the Capitol” — meant the guy’s name was actually Via Getty. Chalk it up to media illiteracy on both sides of the political divide, or the danger of an ill-placed comma, but it was yet another one of the only lighthearted takeaways from the past 24 hours.
As the clock flipped to Thursday and both branches of Congress more or less proceeded like nothing happened, there was still time for dizzying responses to the coup attempt. Two figures named for breakfast beverages upped the ante today, with videos of varying self-importance. First there was the Morning Joe opening clip aiming for the rafters in pathos: images from yesterday’s riot, with Johnny Cash’s movie trailer-ready cover of “Hurt” playing in the background. (Executive producer Daniel Norwick posted it to Twitter earlier today, but deleted it after a whole bunch of people laughed at it.)
Then, there was erstwhile NFL star and felon O. J. Simpson, who’s fashioned himself as something of a front-facing camera guy on Twitter. Never one to shy away from the day’s news — whether it’s the election or basking in the Jeffrey Toobin schadenfreude — Simpson got into the violent efforts to overturn the election... after talking about Heisman winner Devonta Smith for a bit. “I've been in the legal system, and I've had a verdict that I didn't agree with, but I believe in the American system. I believe in the jury system,” he said. Given, well, what we’ve collectively come to assume about Simpson, it was something to behold.
Yesterday, I saw a friend remark on Twitter — where else — that a few decades ago something like this might have come and gone without registering in most households until the evening news, or the next morning’s newspaper. Without stating the obvious, Wednesday's alarming revolutionary cosplay never could’ve happened without the internet’s machinations, but it has drastically expanded the range of responses to an event like this. You don’t have to say anything about the coup if there’s nothing to add, but it’s never been easier to find out what O. J. Simpson thinks about the legal ramifications of staging a photo shoot in Pelosi's office.