Sunday, November 4, 2012

Memes Erme Gward

A meme as defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary is “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” These pictures, videos, slogans, and more have swept the internet and made us all gawk and say “Erme Gward Intrenert.”

However the implications of these images are much greater than a LOL-ing cat with words in front of it.

They have impacted our culture; they have already changed marketing strategies, political discourse, and causes.
In terms of marketing, memes have changed everything. High quality commercials have been subdued to quarky lower budget silly internet videos, because of the popularity and reaching power of memes. This is best exemplified by the Old Spice Guy commercial, a commercial taken in one take and one camera.

The video featured football player Isaih Mustaffa as “the man you wish your man could smell like” a quarky, funny way of saying he’s hunky and you should but old spice. The silliness and accessibility of the video caused it to spin off not just into more Old Spice made commercials, but parodies, tributes, macro-memes (pictures with text in front of them). They ranged from do it yourself kids in towels to page three super models with copies of the Sun.

All resulting in  more sales of Old Spice. As AdWeek reports on July 27th 2012 that sales went up a whopping 107% after the commercial. So others have followed, with user made Cheeto commercials and commercial.
  If you can get a video to trend and replicate itself through fans, you get uproarious amounts of brand recognition as well as opportunities to win people over to your products.
Second it has also changed our political discourse. After each subsequent debate there were meme’s based off of words and saying said by candidates, primarily Mitt Romney. From Binders FULL of Women to Horses and Bayonets an audience was captivated.

However the action of gaining and disseminating knowledge through memes makes a sound bite and an overly large focus from the public to the image and saying. This amount of focus makes the other messages or even the message of the words on the macro-meme itself lost in translation from English to Internet.
Finally memes often delegitimize the causes they’re trying to help. The internet is an empowering place, but it can empower people to do dumb things...  Take the meme Ridiculously Photogenic Syrian Soldier a man who as Foreign Policy Magazine on August 15th 2012 calls “A Weapon of Mass Seduction.”
This meaty image shifts the focus of the conflict from the brutality of war and need for intervention to a scene of the Expendables 2. I mean a strapping good looking guy walking away with a rocket launcher- doesn't scream I need help or there are humanitarian problems in Syria, or really any message other than, “Hey girl, want some of my falafel? ;) .” Images like this hurt causes through distraction, by shifting our focus from pain to humor.
Meme culture it seems has captivated a generation with funny looking pictures, videos, words and more; but it been shown that our love and use of memes has impacted the IRL in marketing, political and social sectors of our daily lives. So though we may give up on a meme after a time they’ll never give you up…;) 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This is one of my favorite posts!! I like how you present both sides of the issue and all of the pictures and videos are great supplements. On one hand memes are catchy and usually humorous, however they often have a negative impact. Because we have so many memes which we are automatically drawn to, many people avoid or ignore other material that is not as humorous and/or interesting. Since most of the important information we should pay attention to is not very funny or "easy to handle" we often miss it. While memes are very entertaining, they have a time and place and we should not get distracted by them from the real issues.

  3. I thought reading about the condensing of news and important information to entertaining bite-sized images was interesting because I continuously catch my self skimming or skipping articles and videos unless it has a certain entertaining hook. I'll even skip a short 2 minute video if it isn't immediately appealing. I'm curious how this constatant gratification and incessant need for the internet to turn everything into a punchline will evolve in future elections. This was the first election with Twitter as a huge presence and it served as quite the mill for "binders full of women" and "horse bayonets" jokes. I'm curious if we'll see the internet mature going forward if if it'll remain a venue for rapid punchlines and one liners. I dream (dread) a series of 2016 debates performed in an all-zinger format.

  4. As a person that absolutely loves all types of memes, I would have to say I really liked your article! The way you gave verbal justification of memes and then a supply of visual memes was great. It really reinforced what you were talking about. Like Colin said, whenever I find myself skimming through articles in different sources of media, honestly I will never stop to read the article unless it is visually pleasing or if it has any type of entertainment in it. This is definitely not a good thing by any means, but this is what our world is evolving into; a world full of old spice hunks and ERMAHGERDS. :)