You can not Step into the Same Meme Twice

An Internet meme is an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry or for humorous purposes, from person to person via the Internet.

It most commonly takes the form of an image, frequently an animated or still image macro  . Hyperlinks, video, websites, and hashtags can be used as internet memes as well. Catch phrases, slogans, logos, sometimes including an intentional or unintentional misspelling can become memes on social media platforms. These small movements tend to spread from person to person via social networks, blogs, direct email, or news sources. They may relate to various existing Internet cultures or subcultures, often created or spread on various websites, or blogs, and other social media communications sites. Instant communication through digital devices facilitates rapid multiple word-of-mouth transmission .

The word meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, as an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads.

Internet memes are a subset of this general meme concept specific to the culture and environment of the Internet. The concept of the Internet meme was first proposed by Mike Godwin in the June 1993 issue of Wired.

A meme is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture — often with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.

The self-replicating and mutating component of memes in a digital mass media environment means that memes can change dramatically in their intent and original message. A recent example of this shifting intent is Pepe the Frog, which was hijacked and given a racist intent by those in the extreme American right .

Because Mass Media conveys intentional and unintentional messages, and visual fields of information are highly susceptible to context clues and placement, internet memes are fluid in meaning and intent. With their highly visual content and digital text environment being so flexible in layout and incorporating layers of information ( audio, colour, size, shape, and animation ), internet memes can change meaning much faster than regular language. So, as Heraclitus might say, you can not step into the same meme twice.

 

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For more information & insight on memes see Project 3: Exercise 4.3 – Memes.

For a more alternative creative expression approach to memes see my Implied Spaces post, What is the Meme-ing of This

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Cultural Appropriation : Jesse Wente’s Response

 

Jesse Wente has appeared on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning as film and pop culture critic for 20 years and currently serves as Director of Film Programmes, at TIFF Bell Lightbox, overseeing theatrical, Cinematheque and Film Circuit programming. A self-described ‘Ojibwe dude’ with a national and international lens, he encourages audiences to consider diversity and inclusion into the future view of their organization, industry and country.

Well known as a film critic and broadcaster in Toronto and across Canada, Jesse was the first nationally syndicated Indigenous columnist for the CBC, covering film and pop culture for 20 local CBC Radio programs. He has also been a regular guest on CBC Newsworld’s News Morning and Weekend Edition, as well as Q.

 

Jesse Wente is a leading film critic and programmer of Indigenous cinema

 

Jesse is Ojibwe, and his family comes from Chicago and the Serpent River First Nation in Ontario. He is an advocate for Aboriginal Arts, most notably on screen. He draws attention to the imagery used by Hollywood in portrayals of indigenous peoples and stresses the need for a culture to have influence on their own depiction. His pieces on The Revenant, Beyonce and sports mascots were among the most shared on CBC.ca .  SOURCE: National Speakers Bureau

 

An editorial introducing the concept of an “appropriation prize” for the author who can best embody the cultural experience of a minority group in Canada comes off as an attempt to steal one of the few things Indigenous people in Canada have left — their story, according to one Indigenous author.

“We’ve lost our land, we’ve lost our languages and almost the last thing we have left are our stories and our voices,” said D.A. Lockhart, a member of the Moravian of the Thames First Nation in Chatham-Kent.

“To have somebody come in and say we’ll tell those better than you … is sort of a painful kick while you’re already down.”  SOURCE:  Appropriation Prize Controversy an Opportunity for Learning CBC NEWS

Mass Media consumes Mass Media, turning other forms of Mass Media into content  and incorporating/emulating  other Media’s Codes & Conventions.  In this process, appropriation of topics, subject matter and other aspects of content will be distorted intentionally & unintentionally through the Values, Beliefs & Ideologies of those delivering the Mass Media Text/Message. It becomes very easy for Mass Media creators & producers to appropriate a culture other than their own  through adoption & adaptation; we are only confronting the past and potential damage that this creates when a cultural group is overwhelmed by a more powerful (politically/economically) cultural group.  The question of who controls the narrative and to what purpose becomes a significant part of Mass Media, Media Literacy, and society at large.