The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Jon Ossoff’s love of Imagine Dragons became a Twitter punchline. Welcome to politics as a millennial.

Jon Ossoff was elected senator from Georgia. (Jon Ossoff for Senate/Reuters) (Jon Ossoff For Senate Campaign/Via Reuters)
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Let’s get this out of the way: It’s not abnormal to like Imagine Dragons.

Two of the band’s albums have gone double platinum, while the other two went platinum and gold, respectively. The Grammy-winning Las Vegas rockers tend to be a punchline to music critics, but it’s impossible to deny that an awful lot of people enjoy their music — including, it would seem, Jon Ossoff.

A few of the senator-elect’s old tweets lauding the band surfaced as the Georgia runoff began winding down Tuesday, prompting many to poke fun of his music taste. Most prominent was one from 2012 in which he tweeted at Pitchfork, the notoriously pretentious music website, “Looking forward to your writeup of the new @imaginedragons album.” The site is mostly known for favorably reviewing indie rock and hip-hop over Imagine Dragon’s more generic sound (though it gave one of their albums a 5.3 out of 10, a surprisingly high mark, considering).

Pitchfork’s reviews editor Jeremy D. Larson wrote a tongue-in-cheek tweet in response Wednesday: “Mr. Ossoff, sir, I am sorry we never wrote up the new Imagine Dragons album. This is hard to explain but during this era of the site, we thought it would 'say more’ about the album when we didn’t review it? Does that make sense? Good luck with everything.”

As Men’s Health deputy editor Spencer Dukoff put it, “Jon Ossoff’s first priority when he gets to Washington? Working on a resolution to retroactively assign an 8.7 to Imagine Dragons’ debut studio album ‘Night Visions’ as well as the distinction of Best New Music.”

Humor writer Jason O. Gilbert wondered, “First Pitchfork-reading Senator?”

Democrats win control of U.S. Senate as Ossoff defeats Perdue

Perhaps Ossoff really does love turning his speakers up to 11 and blasting “Believer” and “Thunder,” or perhaps he’s simply supporting the band’s drummer, Daniel Platzman, his schoolmate and once his singing partner on “Build Me Up Buttercup.” (Platzman declined The Post’s request for comment.) Regardless, soon thereafter many of his pop culture interests began surfacing, from Star Wars to “Grand Theft Auto III.” In other words, the generally expected interests of a 33-year-old dude who will become the first millennial senator.

Most of the dunking is done in jest, by people who probably supported the documentary filmmaker turned politician. So let’s not take this trend too seriously. Still, it’s illustrative of politics in the social media age. We’re not used to seeing politicians living their normal lives before entering office. Previously, those past lives weren’t readily accessible.

This isn’t Bill Clinton playing the sax on “The Arsenio Hall Show” or John McCain or Dan Crenshaw appearing on “Saturday Night Live.” Those were appearances calculated to earn political capital. Nor is it quite akin to a 1991 story about then-Rep. John Kasich (R-Ohio)'s thwarted attempt to join the Grateful Dead onstage, which resurfaced when he made a 2016 presidential bid. These are just missives from a normal person back when he was still a civilian, and it’s happening more and more often.

Last year, for example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was criticized as being unfit for office when a YouTube video surfaced showing her dancing to the popular Phoenix song “Lisztomania” with friends while she was at Boston University. President Trump has been repeatedly dragged for 2012 tweets obsessing about the high-profile celebrity relationship between actors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Even Ken Bone, the private citizen who became a viral sensation for asking a substantive question while wearing a charming red sweater during a 2016 presidential debate, found himself criticized by national media outlets for his anonymous posts on Reddit.

Former congressman Trey Radel (R-Fla.) tried to use his interests to shape his image, becoming known for his affinity for hip-hop after penning a piece in BuzzFeed titled “Why I’m A Hip Hop Conservative.” He would even pass homemade remixes of famous rap songs around the office.

By now, searching for tweets that are merely embarrassing — or what some on Twitter consider embarrassing — is commonplace. Which is how we know Ossoff tweeted, “n00b 4 lyfe” in 2014. Now that he’s set to take office, it’s only a matter of time before more online jokesters pounce. After all, he’s such a fan of Star Wars that he cosplayed as Han Solo in a parody video made by his college a cappella group. Has a nerdier sentence ever existed? Has any senator ever marveled at an anime version of the musical “Les Miserables”?

Politicians have long been ragged on for not being “cool,” but now social media reveals genuine artifacts of past dorkiness.

For his part, Ossoff seems to have predicted that his tweets would live in infamy, writing, “I was going to link to a Lil Jon song but I don’t want someone to ask why I linked to profanity in 15 yrs so instead I wrote this.”

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