There’s no meme more American than Uncle Sam: the personification of the nation.
Uncle Sam makes demands: “I WANT YOU!” thunders the famous recruiting poster. And all good Americans snap to.
So if you want to push your guitar string business, make Uncle Sam point the finger and demand “DO MUSIC!” on a t-shirt. As above.
Or if you want people to surf, make surf business pioneer and surf promoter Jack O’Neill point the finger. He doesn’t need to say anything; O’Neill was bad-ass just to look at. He lost an eye in an accident with an early surfboard leash; big long elastic cord snapped loose and put his eye out. O’Neill slapped on an eyepatch and kept surfing. You should, too. Buy an O’Neill wetsuit today!
Uncle Sam (U.S.) goes way back in this country; he evolved at least partly from a progenitor called Brother Jonathan (the spirit of New England) and by the mid-1800s cartoonists and satirists had made him into the striped-panted muscle-bulging tough old gump he is now. Uncle Sam is indeed tough. Don’t mess with him. He’ll take you down — and anything else you’ve got, too.
I like this political cartoon from the Spanish American War. Uncle Sam can be a bit of a bully. He can threaten — just as he does on this post 9/11 t-shirt.
This Uncle Sam led us off to the easy targets in Iraq when the real villains originated among our good friends the Saudi oil barons. Where Uncle Sam was careful not to interfere.
Well, anyone can use — or misuse — a meme. The Uncle Sam meme is at its best when it demands from us our best as a nation or as individuals. And it is a little-known fact that “Uncle Sam” can appear in many forms.