Succumbing to the ‘meme girls’ crowd

By Xuyang Jingjing Source:Global Times Published: 2012-11-28 19:55:04


Illustration: Peter C. Espina
Illustration: Peter C. Espina

Predicting which meme will next take the world by storm is no easy feat. South Korean pop singer Psy's "Gangnam Style" hasn't even faded into obscurity, yet there's already a new kid on the block: Liaoning style. The meme was inspired by news footage aired Sunday of a J-15 fighter jet landing on China's first seaworthy aircraft carrier, which showed two crew members aboard giving directions to the jet's pilot by pointing in a stiff pose.

Overnight, countless photos of Web users mimicking the gesture at home or in public emerged. Popular examples include a fire engine driving away as two firemen give it the "go" order; a man giving the same directive to his dog; and even the tiger from Life of Pi (2012) striking the pose in lifeboat with the titular character.

Upon seeing the photos and animations, I laughed the same way I did when I watched videos of people mimicking the roping and horse riding dance moves of "Gangnam Style."

I laughed when I saw people imitate the blind auditions on reality show The Voice of China by sitting, back to the TV, and then hitting a pretend buzzer to spin around. Yes, I'm a sucker for a good meme.

I never know who creates these memes, but they always seem to instantly go viral.

My parents wouldn't understand why they are so popular. Even if they wanted to know, I would struggle to explain the point behind such nonsense. Everyone is having fun and that, I suppose, is the whole point.

If I were a sociologist or cultural expert, I could probably give a bunch of reasons for memes using terms such as "post-modernization," "deconstructive," "anti-authority," "mass entertainment" or other mumbo jumbo. People are expressing their anger or frustration towards the establishment through humor, or simply blowing off some steam, experts will tell you.

I'm reminded of the book Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985) by Neil Postman, who raises the point that showbiz and entertainment has become so predominant that all public discourse essentially is entertainment. I haven't actually got around to reading the book, mainly because I've spent too much time laughing my head off at the latest memes.

People have different standards of humor, but I find it alarming my standards are forever sliding. Just the other day, I was reading a post online that said: "Tell your smartphone you need to use the toilet and it will reply 'I've found KFCs in the following locations.'"

I found myself rolling on the floor laughing. When I had calmed down from the hysteria, I broke out in a cold sweat.

What is wrong with me? Have I become completely brain-dead? What happened to my taste, sharp wit and high-brow humor? I immediately made a decision to put a stop to pointless fun and commit myself to more serious thoughts, such as whether I should watch Homeland or X-Factor for the night.

Alas, it wasn't to be. A few hours later, I climbed back into the saddle of meme fever and found myself with a group of friends riding an imaginary horse in a karaoke bar.

Posted in: Twocents-Opinion

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