HBO is asking President Donald Trump, again, to not use Game of Thrones memes on Twitter as a way of sending political messages.
Trump tweeted a meme about the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. The main font featured in the image below is lifted directly from HBO’s most popular series. This isn’t the first time Trump has used a Game of Thrones meme to address a controversy he’s involved in, but HBO has issued a statement essentially asking the president to stop.
“Though we can understand the enthusiasm for Game of Thrones now that the final season has arrived, we still prefer our intellectual property not be used for political purposes,” an HBO spokesperson told Bloomberg.
Trump’s Twitter account is often rife with memes — many of which surface on subreddits like r/The_Donald before making it to his feed — but HBO has previously requested that Trump refrain from using its show’s intellectual property for pushing a political agenda. In November, Trump tweeted a different Game of Thrones meme, using the show’s infamous font to tweet, “Sanctions are coming.” The slogan was based on House Stark’s slogan “Winter is coming,” which is frequently referenced on the show. The meme was intended to reference Trump reimposing sanctions on Iran.
HBO responded at the time with its own tweet: “How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?”
In both that case and this one, Trump’s use of Game of Thrones in memes is a way to seize on a popular moment and an instantly recognizable and respected brand. But it’s also a way to declare power and take an aggressive stance against people he views as his enemies. Game of Thrones is, at its core, a story about eliminating political opponents in an attempt to take the Iron Throne and conquer a kingdom. The underlining message is that Trump is coming out on top — Game Over.
As The Verge’s Adi Robertson previously wrote: “Trump is the presidential version of 4chan denizens adopting Bane and the Joker as patron saints: some men want to watch the world burn, others salivate at the prospect of beating up protestors.”