What my friends think I do: geek out. What my mom thinks I do: she doesn’t. What society thinks I do: write things not worthy of comment. What I think I do: craft profound explorations of human cyber-consciousness. What my editor thinks I do: place a wrench in the publishing gears via procrastination. What I actually do: dick around and look at memes.
It’s not entirely my fault. One of the things I learned at Cal (thanks to AirBears) was that there are many different ways of looking at a situation. Each perspective can become a meme, and each perspective on the perspective can become a meta-meme. O RLY? YA RLY. I will let HairBears provide an example: There are 13 ways of looking at a blackbird and two ways of looking at a meme.
One way is filled with quirky options, and it is anything-goes: This is the worldview of the anonymous constructive memetic. His gene is the selfish, Simmons kind: constantly reproducing. The meme-maker’s wonderfully creative mind adheres to the following formula ad nauseum: he hears you like to laugh, so he puts a joke in your joke so you can laugh while you LOL. He/she/Courage Wolf sees the world as a comedic jungle in which the best jokes will survive.
The other view of the meme is a confused cringe. That look belongs solely to the out-crowd: the cyber squares, the clueless ones, the butt ends of the Internet’s joke machine — the Scumbag Steves of the world.
The aforementioned lurk — Blake Boston of the swag-rap group Beantown Mafia — having his image flanked by thousands of scummy descriptions like “Goes to high school parties … 25 years old” and then posted rampant as ASUC flyers, did not find much to laugh at in the meme. Like a too-drunk guy at a party who gets himself in a fight as he’s walking out the door, Bro Boston said in an interview: “I think that the original person that made up Scumbag Steve was actually trying to ruin me, ’cause see, I’m an aspiring hip-hop artist.” He continued: “You’re trying to kill a horse, and you’re trying to beat it. You’re trying to do a raid to find out who I am, where I am.” Finally, he revealed his opinion of the meme team itself: “You just write one thing … and then everyone goes fucking nuts.”
Memes drive people crazy. I’m speaking particularly of the police departments of San Luis Obispo County, San Diego and Pierre, S.D., who showed the extent of their beer bellies in their fight against the Internet and its galumphing groper, PedoBear.
PedoBear was birthed live-streaming as an ASCII art image from the grandmother of all memes, the Japanese textboard 2channel. It is context-free, omnipresent and iconic: It is a happy-go-lucky marching Berenstein family member with known but unexpressed pedophilic attitudes. It looks ridiculous, as most pedophiles do. Unlike actual pedophiles, whose movement is usually contained within the community and whose opinions are worth less than a piece of gum’s, PedoBear was an Internet sensation: It tramped far and wide across the Web, going viral, spreading black comedy to hundreds of thousands. Still, no matter how popular this adorable and perverted cub was, it remained a celebrity of 1024×768 proportions.
Then, without explanation, PedoBear showed up as accompaniment to a July 24, 2009 column by RacistBear Pat Buchanan. Suddenly it appeared, menacingly leaning over a childsized bear, on the front page of the February 4th, 2010 issue of the Polish newspaper The Gazeta Olsztynska. Reddit laughed; law enforcement panicked. Fearing PedoBear’s access to David after his dentist visit, in September 2010 the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department issued a warning: PedoBear is the harbinger of perversion, the lone horseman of the suburban apocalypse, the Teletubbies’ no-bullshit attack bear.
They responded with extreme prejudice, harassing cosplay participants dressed as the infamous cub — as if they needed any more humiliation. The San Diego police department followed suit, issuing a bulletin claiming, “PedoBear’s presence may be an indicator of the presence of individuals who have a predilection to sexually inappropriate, or even assaultive behavior.” A year later, PedoBear sightings in Pierre, S.D. (or was that a black bear?) frightened the local police department into issuing a citywide alert. It’s only a matter of time before the Intra-Fraternity Council launches raids to roust the Foul Bachelor Frog.
Point being: Memes are manifesting in the flesh-and-blood world and changing the rules of humor and advertising. Case in point, relevant to all Bay Area commuters: the fierce visage of Courage Wolf on BART cars snarling its approval for KIXEYE. Memes generously donate the you-had-to-be-there feeling of the successful inside joke to the masses; they broadcast the irreverence and no-rules banter of stoned living room chatter to whoever’s willing to join in. In short: You just write one thing, and everyone goes fucking nuts. What could be better than that?