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  • Writer's pictureC.M.Knopf

The Coup: A Major, Transmedia, Crossover Event! (updated)

| The January 6th invasion of the U.S. Capitol prompted a lot of pop culture allusions. |

In the wake of the 2017 Women's March that marked Donald Trump's entrance to the presidency, Constance Grady wrote,

As it is here, the revolution will be televised. It will be broadcast on the radio. It will be discussed and furthered on the internet. It will be replicated into a thousand memes. That’s how our culture builds its tribes and its groups and, now, its political protests.

And so it goes with the 2021 protest-cum-coup that marked Trump's departure from the presidency. What follows is a (doubtlessly incomplete) catalogue of the pop culture allusions, tie-ins, and references used by the MAGA supporters protesting the 2020 election results, their opponents, and the public at large to frame, make sense of, or cope with the domestic terrorism that occurred in the United States capital.


Toys & Games


LEGO "Capitol Invasion" building kit

Call of Duty "Capitol Warfare"


G.I. Joe "Vanilla Isis"




Marvel Civil War


Captain America


The Punisher


Operation Ajax: The Graphic Novel

Read more about the interactive Operation Ajax graphic novel in the chapter of graphic reportage in my forthcoming book, Politics in the Gutters.


Where's Waldo


Geek Culture




Movies & TV


National Treasure


Mall Cop


The Simpsons


Family Guy


Spongebob Squarepants


Fandoms and social movements have much in common. Collective action is the result of purposes and resources oriented within social relationships activated to create a sense of being and working together. The formation of a “we” happens by orienting the ends, means, and, the environment of action. The environment includes a culture of media entertainment and so it is only natural that the means make use of those resources, especially because pop culture media texts contain familiar messages, sentiments, and widely-recognized symbols that allow for rapid comprehension and dissemination. Fan cultures and collective actors both use those symbols to produce worldviews and identities that form communities of insiders and outsiders. For more on pop culture, politics, and protest, read my 2019 article "Carrie Fisher Sent Me" and for more on the political relevance of comic books and comic book media in the efforts of the alt-right, see the concluding chapter in my forthcoming Politics in the Gutters.

~Christina M. Knopf

08 January 2021 (updated 14 January 2021)

*If you have other pop culture examples to add to this list, please contact me through social media or at cmknopfphd[at]gmail[dot]com.

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