NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 24: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to him during a press conference … [+]
Memes poking fun at elected officials aren’t new to social media, but as of Thursday one of the sexual harassment accusers of New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo may have gone a little further than expected. Former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan shared a picture of Star Wars character Jabba the Hutt holding Princess Leia and licking her.
Boylan, 36, has alleged that New York Governor Cuomo, 63, molested her, including after he left her in 2018.
“Just the good ol ‘office, welcome to women in the New York governor’s office,” tweeted @LindseyBoylan.
Ana Liss, who also accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, responded with her own meme on Twitter. In response to Boylan, Liss (@analiss) wrote, “TFW, he’s approaching your desk,” a reference to the pounding of a dinosaur from the Jurassic Park movie.
The couple followed suit with a host of other memes and comments, and many joined similar memes. By Friday afternoon, the original tweet had over 1,500 likes and was retweeted 270 times and cited nearly 20 times.
However, some felt it was an inadequate response to a very serious problem. One user, @ leelo2u, replied, “Pfft. Childish. Growing up.”
This follow-up generated its own wave of responses, including those asking whether Boylan or Liss should “accept abusive behavior,” but it begs the question of whether it is appropriate for the couple to shed light on which is more serious allegations while the investigation is ongoing.
“Social media is a heavily driven pop culture window to the world,” said technology futurist and brand strategist Scott Steinberg.
“We’re used to seeing memes and goofy photos in response to the day’s problems,” he added. “However, it may not be appropriate for someone to blame someone else for something this serious, but we’ve seen social media have an ‘animal house’ mentality when it comes to dealing with social problems.”
Is that par for the social media course?
“Happy or not, trivializing serious problems is one of the greatest skills in social media,” said Pundi-IT technology analyst Charles King.
“But I’m not sure Boylan wanted that on this case,” added King. “In my opinion, it is more of the satire class to equate Governor Coumos’ reported treatment of women with Jabba’s animal slave trade via Princess Leia – putting humor into a serious situation with a sharpened blade. I doubt Cuomo was pleased with the stark comparison. On the other hand, thin-skinned politicians tend to demand respect even if they have done little to deserve it. “
The question is whether Boylan and Liss could lose credibility over their tweets. It may seem innocuous now, but as many have learned, what you post today or even years ago can come back to haunt you.
“Nor do many people realize that anything, including comments on social media, can be fair game in the courtroom,” Steinberg said. “It’s also important to realize that we have the words, but we don’t have the facial expressions or the tone that make a post-context. That can be problematic for both parties in the courthouse.”
It is likely that investigators and prospective prosecutors would prefer never to fill such positions.
“Lawyers may like it when it serves a purpose,” said Steinberg, who has acted as an expert witness in court. “The short answer, however, is that anything you post can be used against you. And prosecutors probably never get excited about these kinds of comments on an unregulated forum.”
However, these posts could serve another purpose – namely, to publicly shame and ridicule Governor Cuomo.
“It may not be the most sophisticated or respectful way to address a serious allegation,” Steinberg added. “But social media is nothing unless the court of public opinion and the comparison of Cuomo with Jabba the Hutt get people talking.”