Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Why Media Spreads, Part 2 – “In Defense of Memes”

Posted by cliffordpaulparsoniiiesq on November 27, 2016

My relationship with memes has shifted at irregular intervals. When I first got into Facebook, I thought the memes I saw were repetitive and generic. The reoccurring characters (Scumbag Steve, Bad Luck Brian, Condescending Wonka) all seemed to be saying the same type of thing, just with some context rearranged.

However, I’ve also come to appreciate memes when they put a new twist on an established meme. This past year, a popular meme has been a picture of Drake (from the Hotline Bling video) looking disgusted at something, juxtaposed with a happier screenshot of him looking at something more pleasant. My favorite variants on this meme depicted characters like Josh (from Drake & Josh) and Homer Simpson referencing actual jokes from the show. The essay “In Defense of Memes” presents another specific example, involving Violent J of Insane Clown Posse saying “Are you a magnet,” a reference to a specific line in an ICP song. These memes might be popular only among fans of a particular series, band or movie. However, they play on the culture specific fanbases, which in turn helps spread the meme to new areas where it wouldn’t make sense otherwise.

I belong to a Facebook community called “Useless, Unsuccessful and/or Unpopular Memes.” Back in January, I posted an original meme connected Making a Murderer with Ned Flanders from the Simpsons. My post got upwards of 2,000 “likes,” and within about 12 hours I saw it re-posted by a page I happened to follow. Even more rewarding—I saw other UUUM members create variations on my meme! It doesn’t get any more personal than that.


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