Memes are more complex than we think

A collage of memes.

A collage of memes.

Jason Wood, Staff Reporter

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Moments after the wrong film was announced as Best Picture winner at this year’s Oscars, a “La La Land” producer snatched the envelope out of a stunned Warren Beatty’s hand. Faster than you can say “the winner is,” a meme was born.

Within minutes, social media was flooded with Photoshopped takes on that image: One declared the Atlanta Falcons the victors of the Super Bowl. Another awarded a Grammy to Beyonce’s “Lemonade.” Still others played on the divisive 2016 presidential election, naming Hillary Clinton the winner.

That’s the basic function of most memes, which are usually topical images with some humorous text.

For many memes are nothing more than relatively funny jokes on a picture. But, in reality, memes are a complex, powerful form of media that can affect readers more than they realize. More than you think.

“We Are Number One.” a song from the Children’s show Lazytown that was popular in the early to mid 2000s featuring a song in every episode however this specific song has gained a lot of popularity in meme culture recently, as well as a new found purpose.

Stefan Karl, the actor behind the show’s main antagonist “Robbie Rotten,” announced in October of last year that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Shortly after his diagnoses, a GoFundMe campaign was started, with a link to the song.

Quickly after this tons of memes of the song spread through the internet like wildfire each with a link to the GoFundMe page. After 4 short months the meme raised $16,171 over its $100,000 goal.

However not every meme is so positive. No one has control of how memes spread through social media and the internet. Thus anyone can make a meme from anything about whatever they want.

This has had a huge effect recently with our election. Sure, maybe you support the wall-building, orange screaming carrot, A.K.A. Donald Trump all the way but why? How did you learn what his plans were, how did you even know he was running?

Probably, especially if you’re a child- young adult, from memes about it. Or maybe you didn’t care for Donald Trump but you sure as hell didn’t want an email deleting, snake running your office by trying to relate to the youth the whole time. But what really made you have the opinion of Hillary? Do you even know much about her policies? How do you even know all these things about her is true? Probably you don’t know much, all you really know about her is what blew up in memes about her created by people who hated her.

Maybe you’re reading this thinking, “well actually I wasn’t awed by either side. I was supporting the lord and savior Bernie Sanders, because his policies were amazing and he wasn’t crazy.” The truth is that yes he supported free college and weed which is really all that the people making Bernie memes wanted you to see. What did they not show?

His large number of policies that made many things free but taxed the country in a way that would negatively affect many people’s lives. Or his “social ideals” that were border line communism.

But if all you saw about Bernie were his memes, did you even hear about those things?

With all of this said, its obvious memes have more of a lasting effect than a quick chuckle, so next time you look at memes, maybe you should make sure you’re okay with the joke you’re laughing at and sharing.

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