Internet squared: After meme-crashing the Game Awards, 'reformed orthodox rabbi' Bill Clinton comes to Elden Ring

Bill Clinton in Elden Ring.
(Image credit: Arestame)

The Game Awards this year was easily among the best shows that Geoff Keighley and crew have yet put on and, after Christopher Judge was out of the way, was an undeniably pacier and slicker spectacle than usual. So much so it was almost going too well. Then Elden Ring won the Game of the Year award, various FromSoft types got up to say thanks, and just as the acceptance speeches were lulling us off, a kid on-stage in a suit said this:

"Real quick I want to thank everybody and say that I think I want to nominate this award to my Reformed Orthodox rabbi Bill Clinton. Thank you everybody."

My reaction at the time I can summarise as: wut. It still didn't make sense even the day after, when it was all clear who this stage-crasher was and what had happened. The origin of the phrase seemed to be Discord, and the whole thing was bizarre enough that it had a few days of being meme'd to oblivion.

Well: turns out we're not done. Modder Arestame has taken it upon themselves to create 'Bill Clinton: The Reformed Rabbi Orthodox', a mod that brings the 42nd president of the United States to Elden Ring.

The mod is clearly inspired by the incident, with the description reading "Play with Bill Clinton, the Reformed Rabbi Orthodox that was announced in The Game Awards 2022! [...] To ensure the best and most realistic experience, no armor must be worn. A true legend fights only bare-chested!"

As you can see it, well, adds a pretty good likeness of Bill Clinton to the game. He's sporting a natty blue suit, wielding a club, and looking like he's ready to call for NATO expansion into the Lands Between.

I'm not sure if this is the most bizarre Elden Ring mod I've seen yet, but it is a funny example of how pranks and nonsensical phrases like this proliferate throughout the contemporary media ecosystem. I'm still not sure why so many people found this stunt as funny as they did: perhaps it's something to do with how it punctured the slick production values of a show designed to sell you stuff, even for a moment. Or maybe the audience just enjoyed how much Keighley clearly hated it. Either way, some kid's daft idea has now staked out its own tiny slice in one of the year's biggest games.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."