Yes, Jacob Rees-Moggwave Really is a Thing Now

The Tory toff's the next biggest thing in electronic music. Seriously.
March 29, 2017, 11:30am

It's fair to say that normally the world of political memes isn't worth going anywhere near. Largely it's full of privileged people pretending those in power are adorable. No, Nicola Sturgeon is not bae. Nobody "has to see" Boris Johnson in his gym outfit. I've also looked at all these photos of Nick Clegg on a trip to the fairground with his family and unlike whoever wrote your headline, I'm coping just fine.

Then again, every so often, something happens that ever so slightly escapes the realm of the normal. In this case a discovery that, while technically still in the dreary realms of political lolz, is weird enough to deserve at least a few minutes of your time today. This is Jacob Rees-Moggwave.

So yes, what has happened by the looks of things is that somebody has started a vaporwave offshoot called Jacob Rees-Moggwave—or, just Moggwave to the heads. As with Simpsonswave before it the template is simple: gooey slowed-down R&B married with pop culture referencing imagery. Isn't 2017 fucking AMAZING! This is, of course, slightly surprising in this case as the pop culture being referenced is normally highly American, ranging from McDonalds to Window 95, so the image of the MP for North East Somerset under a pinkish gauze makes for a change.

For obvious aesthetic reasons Jacob Rees-Mogg doesn't seem like the natural vaporwave fit. He's less ironic commentary on consumerism and more quaint ode to traditional conservatism. He's less burnt pink and more waxed mahogany.

Yet there is a quality to his voice, it must be said, that suits vaporwave. There's something about the ebbing Edwardian drift of his voice that lends itself perfectly to the otherworldly nostalgia of the genre. Vaporwave is at its core concerned with recycling the past into blissful, synthesised melancholia, which makes the voice of a man so enamoured with heritage a perfect featured artist. He sounds like the past. And not the horrible reality of the past, but the warm, make-believe version of history that is all wartime radio and frayed leather armchairs, room temperature ale and amateur pornography. Rees-Mogg is a man possessed by such ornate poshness his vowels sound like they're made of marble. Granted vaporwave producers have traditionally been more interested in the immediate past—Apple Macs and city-limits shopping malls are key reference points—but the same logic applies. It's a musical trend that recycles ideas into something soft and wistful. In many ways he is the perfect feature artist for producers who treat the past like a particularly strong tab of acid. Even in the videos that don't feature his voice—simply an image of his face—he seems strangely at home.

It's also unsurprising that Jacob Rees-Mogg of all politicians has become the face of this movement. For a long while now he's been the go-to "funny Tory." From his "floccinaucinihilipilification" moment in parliament, to countless clips of him "schooling" Labour MPs on Question Time, he has a reputation as a gentle rebel. He's the sort of bloke English people love—a mild eccentric. The sort of man who could name every monarch; the type to tell you a story about every clock on every wall in every room, as he guides you round his stately home. And whereas Boris Johnson is seen as a buffoon—funny in the same way a big smelly dog ruining a pavlova might be—there is an air of dignified intelligence about Rees-Mogg, people like to think. The sort of person who probably swipes through the pages of voluminous history books with the same indifferent ease as you do Tinder profiles. Members of my family are in his constituency—granted not the posh village bit, more the satellite-suburbia bit—and they all love him. "What a character," they say, laughing at his posh accent, chuckling at just how much he looks like a drawing of a head-teacher on a biscuit tin. "Don't forget, he was reading the Financial Times when he was only 10! What a legend!"

Only, it's important we're not seduced by his plummy voice, that we don't get sucked in by the short-lived novelty of vaporwave tributes, and end up ignoring the fact he was the sole MP who voted against the government Dubs scheme to protect child refugees. While he might seem like the perfect punchline, lest we forget he's voted consistently against gay rights and human rights, as well as voting to reduce housing benefit and welfare benefit. He might seem like a Beano character, but he's actually a pretty odious little bloke. Now none of that means we can't find the idea of Jacob Rees Mogg-wave funny in some capacity—it still is. But before we lose ourselves down the tumblrs tags of cute JRM pics, we need to examine whether "funny" is really the light we want to cast him in.

At some point in the last five years, young British people gave up on satirising the politicians who were ruining their futures, and instead started turning them into loveable figures of fun. It probably started around the time of Ed Miliband's Milifandom, a trend which treated an admittedly pleasant and principled seeming man like he was one of the Rugrats. This gave birth to a culture, a new political perspective, fostered by Twitter and communities of meme-makers on Facebook—a cutification of politics that could turn even the most toxic of right-wingers into an emoji in a suit.

Vaporwave is an internet genre in the truest sense, so it's unsurprising that people from all corners of the internet will seek to adopt it. We've seen as much with the rise of right-wing vaporwave that emerged over the last year that sought to lionise Trump as the emperor of consumerist, capitalist America. Telling ourselves Jacob Rees-Moggwave can't be as bad as Fashwave, because Jacob Rees-Mogg is a funny Mary Poppins-man is sadly a mild delusion. He's still a right-wing politician with a nasty voting record. He's still a symbol of the free market—a harbinger of the hollow edict that money comes above all else. No amount of AESTHETICS can undo that.

Angus is on Twitter