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We Used to Have Hope, Now We Have Puns

Because this is the Trump administration and because “Hope Hicks” sounds like the name of a film noir femme fatale that a bot would spit out if you only fed it nouns that begin with H, Hope Hicks’ destiny was written in the stars back on her first day in the White House: Eventually she would leave, like everyone in Trumpland inevitably does, whether through resignation, dismissal, scandal, or all three. And when that happened, lo, there would be puns.

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Now it has come to pass: Hope Hicks is out, and the world—or at least the internet—has been overrun with Hope Hicks departure puns. Her eminently punnable name combined with the glee Trump watchers take when another one bites the White House dust means that we all knew this was coming, but that doesn’t make it any more bearable. Maybe racing to joke about this on Twitter has become an outlet for our culture’s collective insanity. In any case, there is no stopping it, only watching it in awe and despair.

The most obvious form this has taken, the entry-level, amateur-hour, Hope-is-leaving tweet, is the “hopeless” pun, which CNN used in its chyron and which has appeared on Twitter with various degrees of irony, from none (“Hahaha! Hope-less!!!!”) to absolutely drenched (“Get it?!?!”). Arsenio Hall, you can do better. David Axelrod, you should be ashamed of yourself.

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“Hope floats” and “hopeless place” (like the Rihanna song) references were also in abundance (including one tweet that used a generic-looking picture of the White House and labeled it “A HOPELESS PLACE”), as were nods to the subtitle of the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, proving that the nerds of the internet will always find a way to bring it back to Star Wars. Extra points go to Photoshop king Darth, whose speedy A New Hope tweet gave the movie’s poster a Trumpian makeover.

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Only the best jokes transcended these obvious Hope tropes, instead reaching for a Green Day allusion.*

Meanwhile, the punster who thinks himself advanced foregoes the first name for the last, because Hicks, too, is full of wordplay and tabloid-headline potential. It practically begs for its own version of the famous 1935 “Sticks Nix Hick Pix” headline.

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But the most meta way of all to deal with Hope Hicks’ hhexit is to, as we are doing now, decry the sameyness of our pun-infested, Trump-crazed culture. For the next few years, we’re all in this together.

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Correction, Feb. 28, 2018: This piece originally misstated that the Splinter headline “Hope, You Had the Time of Your Life” was a Dirty Dancing reference; it’s obviously a Green Day reference, from the album Nimrod, which is what I feel like right now.