Tag Archives: Millenial

The "Woman Yelling at Cat" Meme Sucks

A Case Study of Meme Overuse and Eventual Death

We can’t have good things. We can never have good things. Because once something becomes popular enough the masses will get a hold of it and ruin it. Usually this doesn’t happen with most art forms because most art requires little to no participation from the audience. There are the creators of the art and the viewers of the art and the audience is relegated to be mere spectators of the art form. The read the book. They watch the movie. They look at the painting. They play no role in the creation of the art itself. The barrier of entry is usually fairly high to most standard forms of art; some jackass can’t make shitty music, plop it up on soundcloud, and become instantly famous. Some dickhead with canvas and acrylics from Walmart probably won’t paint a masterpiece that will end up in a museum. There’s a quality filter so to speak. But I think the most important attribute of most “normal” art is that it is static: once art is created it is finished and in its final form. There is no further input from anyone, especially the audience.

Memes are totally different and while I do consider them an artform they’re also a form of communication. This works because the barrier to entry with memes is terribly low; any dingbat can make memes and nothing requires you to actually be witty or good at making them to do so. And there is an audience for these poorly-crafted memes. Consider the horribly dumb populace that infests social media sites like Facebook and Twitter like roaches, you have dumbfucks creating stupid and unfunny memes who “don’t get it” and somehow their abominations are shared and propagated to the masses. It’s the equivalent of the soundcloud artist and amateur painter from above except they can somehow get notoriety with their shitty and terrible work. YouTube is a good example of this where anyone with a phone can plop videos up that everyone in the world can see. There is no filter to prevent bad content from spreading.

You can really notice this as a trend if you know where to look. The meme progression is usually something like this: some random person makes a meme with a narrow context or something. The meme is funny because it’s new and unique and sometimes hilariously confusing because it doesn’t seem to make sense. Think of advice animals: why would animals give advice? It’s entertaining in its absurdity. Or spiderman giving a presentation, etc. I call this initial phase the “proto-meme” phase because it sounds cool enough.

Having a deeper sense of social media put yous in direct touch with proto-memes. I’m not saying Reddit is deep social media exactly but it’s deeper than Facebook, which is about as shallow as a puddle in a driveway. I’ve seen countless memes in more or less original proto-form on Reddit before they mature and make the jump to more popular sites like Facebook. As an example, this is something I think is representative of the proto-meme style that may or may not become popular in the future. I’m especially fond of r/THE_PACK because of how absurd and ironic everything posted there is. It’s like the shit your skeleton-, gun-, flag-, and motorcycle-image sharing uncle shares on Facebook but turned up 1000 times in intensity. Here:

AROOO MFER! Credit: u/IronicMerman. (The style of THE_PACK is even more interesting when you consider the fact that they’re a bastardization of things shared on Facebook. They’re like a reverse of what usually happens to memes: instead of going to Facebook to die, the style is removed from Facebook and memeified.)

Reddit itself is probably more descriptive of the second phase of memes where their popularity grows and people improvise on the formula. I want to call this something like the “classic phase” or something. This is where memes gain enough social critical mass where you can use them in wider conversations and situations. The meme is adapted by many interest groups and cultures even if they have their origins in niche communities. Spongebob memes can make the jump from being unique to TV and movie communities into the wider public. Or a video game meme jumps ship and is adopted by countless other groups unrelated to video games. Creativity flourishes and each community puts their own spin on the meme and interprets it in their own way, creating a cornucopia of memes based off the same initial idea. And most importantly they hold true to the form and humor of the original proto-meme.

After the proto- and classical meme phases is what I’d call the popular phase of the meme. This is what happens when a meme grows up and is adopted by the masses for use. And by masses I mean everyone. Usually you know this phase is upon a meme when your hopelessly out-of-touch and mildly racist aunt Karen starts sharing them on Facebook. Think about Minions. Facebook is the prime example here because it’s where popular memes go to die. It’s where clueless and usually older people get their grubby Boomer hands on our beloved memes, misunderstanding and corrupting them into something that misses the entire point of the meme in the first place. Case in point: the woman and cat meme, the topic of this post. I’m sure you’ve seen it in your travels through Social Media Land recently.

I loved this meme originally. It had all the hallmarks of a good meme: originality, absurdity with a woman yelling at a cat sitting at a dinner table, and a versatility that was impressive. You could adapt the meme or variations of it to nearly anything you needed. I found this on reddit a half year ago, the meme altered and depicting a certain scenario from the video game Apex Legends:

Part of the appeal of a meme is its “inside joke” quality, and this is prime example of such. You won’t understand this at all unless you’ve played Apex.

And my sister sent me this gem where the meme is tweaked to be about video game choices. It highlights the absurdity of the semi-popular and mocked belief that video games cause violence: humor, absurdity, and social commentary all wrapped into a picture of a woman yelling at a cat. It’s also an example of how damn versatile the meme is/was.

And I can’t forget this gem I found which doesn’t depict the meme as usual but pays homage to The Shining. I love it.

Anyways, as stated above the natural progression of a meme that becomes too popular, a meme that has such critical mass that it transcends sub-pop and pop culture, is that it enters mainstream culture. When your parents, aunts, uncles, and even grandparents get a hold of it. It’s when people use the meme as it wasn’t intended, a bastardization where one realizes the creator doesn’t understand the meme’s appeal and humor in the first place. And the saddest thing of all is when the meme is fucking politicized and used unironically. When the humor is stripped out of it and it becomes a way to say something seriously. To prove a point. To make a stance. To yell your viewpoint bluntly at people. To disguise this as humor. This isn’t how memes are meant to be used.

This one depicts the meme as a conversation-frame type meme, a misuse of its original intentions. I mean it’s now a lady having a conversation with a cat. Okay. It’s also kinda dumb.

I was originally going to only post the image, but realized that including the poster/uploader — the eloquently titled page “Cornbread & Cooter” — might say something about the type of people that fuck the memes up in the first place. Think of someone you personally know that would actually follow a page called “Cornbread & Cooter:” they’re probably a fucking moron. Sadly, my dad shared this.

This one depicts the cat looking at Greta Thunberg. Once again, Okay…

As above, I included the poster, “Country Folks & Patriot’s.” I don’t know why there’s an apostrophe there, but hey, I’m not surprised. Without looking you know it’s a page followed by a bunch of old out-of-touch people that live off a steady diet of Fox News and they took a popular meme and fucked it up and politicized it. And once again it isn’t even funny because it’s trying too hard to prove a point. There’s no humor because it has been replaced by a subtle hatred for Greta only disguised as humor, not that these people give a shit about the trees cut down in the first place.

And countless others that I don’t even want to think about. Naturally I don’t save these when I come across them and only upon writing a blog post do I have to hunt them down. And searching through a handful of Cornbread & Cooter’s images leaves you feeling exhausted with society and people in general. Sometimes I want to go hang myself.

The meme is then basically dead. When people who are out of touch with the original intent and humor get ahold of a meme and defile it, no one who properly knows how to use the meme will do so. It then becomes “uncool” to use (unless you’re being ironic) and the real meme-proficient people, creators, and wizards will stop using it. The funny thing is after the meme falls out of favor with its initial fans and adopters it will still find heavy use in the out-of-touch community because they have no idea that it’s not funny anymore. Once again think Minion memes. The only time these dead memes will finally disappear is when the out-of-touch crowd finds newer, fresher, and unmurded memes to leech onto and then kill. It’s a vicious cycle. The popularity of a meme is what will kill it.

Luckily, some memes seem to transcend this fate by being popular but not popular enough to be adapted by the demographics that will kill them. A few examples I can think of is Elon Musk smoking pot and the goddamn “Here we go again” screenshot from Grand Theft Auto 3: San Andreas. It’s pretty easy to see why they haven’t been widely adopted. Elon smoking pot is just too vague for popular adaptation because you need to know the backstory to see the humor in it. And CJ from GTA is hopelessly (and luckily) stuck within video game cultures and can’t transcend out of it.

A fresh cross adapting a GTA meme into something Stardew Valley related.

I suppose the real death knell of memes is when they end up on t-shirts or whatever. This kills the meme. When you start seeing memes on shirts the humor and the inside joke quality of it are just wiped out, murdered, with zero hope of return. And, oh, would you look at this…

HE’S DEAD, JIM. And no I’m not giving credit for this image because things like this can just go fuck right off into hell.

Sorry lady-yelling-at-cat meme. You were one of the better ones, but all good things must come to an end. A victim of your own success you were and while you’ve followed countless other memes into oblivion and while you’re surely not the last to do so, we will fondly remember the times when your were young, new, and full of promise to all of us. Farewell and Godspeed.

Note: I bitched a little bit about Facebook here, as I’ve done in many past posts, and if you’re curious for an entire book bitching about the negative things about Facebook, I wrote an ebook on it. Please check it out if you’re interested!

The Decade Challenge Sucks

The hottest and latest trend to be hitting social media (at least Facebook as I can’t speak for other social media websites) seems to be something called “the decade challenge” or whatever. The “challenge” involves finding and posting a picture of yourself from ten years ago, way back in 2009. The only “challenge” to it seems to be finding a decent picture of yourself from a literal decade ago and then maybe having the courage to post it. I don’t really know what the actual point of doing this is because all it seems to accomplish is either 1. showing how you haven’t aged at all making everyone else feel like shit or 2.showing how terribly you’ve aged in the past ten years and making everyone else feel better about themselves. You now look like a decrepit catchers mitt and how the hell did ten laps around the sun affect you that badly? The decade challenge doesn’t seem to have any positives to it at all except perhaps to get some well-needed schadenfreude in on your “friends.”

As you can tell I hate it. I always hate social media trends but this one is even worse. I think it’s because I’m strongly in denial about the fact that I’m getting older. I’ve been tossing around the idea of a “getting older sucks” blog post, but have been deliberately and purposefully in denial about the fact. “I would write a post about getting older sucking,” I think to myself, “but I’m not actually old yet! Who am I to write about that topic at the fresh young age of 33!” I’m constantly lying to myself and knowing that I’m lying to myself feels especially awful.

Denial until this “challenge” that is. With everyone around my age spamming pics of themselves ten years ago I can’t be in denial about it. While I myself don’t feel old, and when I look in the mirror I don’t think I look old, everyone around my age group has seemingly aged terribly in the past ten years. Who am I to deny this fact? I’ve certainly aged terribly as well and just aren’t aware of it or am just in denial about it.

As stated I’m 33 and I’ve always viewed this as the start of getting old, at least that’s how I thought about it as a kid. The thirties are when you’re literally and undeniably an adult. Your life is set. Your dreams have either been accomplished or you’ll never accomplish them. The thirties is when you’re past the point of turning back. You’re well on the road to middle age, old age, and death. You can’t turn back or change anything about your life when you’re past thirty. It was a bleak outlook.

Obviously I don’t feel that way now that I’m in the thick of the shit that is The Thirties. I tell myself —— who still feels like an ignorant teenager — that, no, the thirties aren’t old! Maybe you’re “old” when you’re in your forties or even fifties! Or maybe there is no such thing as being old! But then I think of my grandma who can barely walk, whose hands look like those of a skeleton with just a thin layer of skin draped over the bones. She is frail and her mind isn’t what it used to be. Being old is undeniably a thing, but it doesn’t have a clear beginning. It just slowly creeps up on you so you have a hard time considering when you “start” being old. Since I’m in my thirties, I still feel this point is a long way away even though my beard is irreversibly grey and the bags under my eyes are becoming more pronounced.

Most of my friends are the same age as I am, give or take a few years. Seeing their decade pictures on Facebook is like a mirror held directly up to me. People that are the same age as me look old. Even the ones that don’t exactly look old look changed; they don’t look the same as they did ten years ago, even if they still appear young.

One of my friends still looks pretty young, and his picture from a decade ago is framed in the exact same way making a comparison very easy. His hair is longer now and he hasn’t gotten fat, but around his eyes are unmistakable wrinkles that weren’t around in the photo from ten years ago. He is one of the people that don’t look old, but where something is definitely happening with time. He’s on the verge of looking old even if he isn’t quite there yet.

Another girl I know looks nearly the same as ten years ago, but with the same telltale wrinkles around her eyes. Her cheeks are a little fuller and saggier than from 2009, but she is still youthful and pretty. Once again time is working slowly and even if she doesn’t look old yet, you know her 2029 pictures will be terrible.

One guy who I totally describe as “a hipster” used to be very tall, thin, and wore glasses: the classic hipster. He only listens to music on vinyl. He only listens to music you’ve never heard of. His picture is now of a kinda chubby, “dad-looking” person even though he has no kids. He now has a slight double chin. His hair looks to be thinning. He wears sweaters that are of the classic “dad-style”. He tucks his shirts in. His picture is that of a classic old person who seems oblivious to the fact that he’s old. He’s my age. And he is unmistakably old.

I don’t think other age groups have this issue with the decade challenge. If you’re in your twenties your past pictures will be of a teenager. You’re now an adult, congrats! And if you’re in your forties or fifties I’m assuming you look about the same as you did ten years prior. But the thirties? Now we’re comparing pictures of an old thirty-year-old to a fresh and young twenty-year-old. This decade seems to take the most toll on both body and mind and people outside of this age group can’t appreciate the pure hell of it.

As for myself, how am I different from ten years ago? I don’t know. I think I look the same. Luckily I’m not the type of person to have tons of pictures of myself, and those that do exist are buried and forgotten somewhere I’m not aware of. Perhaps they’re on hard-drives, forgotten/lost SD cards, or in family picture albums somewhere. This is nice because I can have plausible deniability as to how much I’ve aged in the past decade. I can’t see myself from 2009 so I don’t know. And I’m fine with that. But it’s hard to ignore the slew of people on social media posting pictures from a decade ago that you’re the same age as. Some look old, and if they don’t look old, you can still see time making it’s slight and permanent cuts in their faces, slowly but surely carving them with the same patience that carved the Grand Canyon. Even if you’re spared this decade, the next one will get you. And if not that one, surely the one after that. Or the one after that. The decade challenge fucking sucks.