QCQ for “Internet Memes”
by Kate M. Miltner
“The China Digital Times has argued that internet memes have [helped to] undermine the authoritarian regime of the Chinese Communist Party, and as such, are an important venue for free expression and the development of civil society in China” (417).
“Humor is often an effective tool for commenting on the gaffes and hypocrisy of those in power, and many political memes are used to comment on politics in a humorous and parodic way. However, memes often reflect and invoke the rage of the subordinated … the ‘weapons of the weak’” (420).
I chose two quotes for this week’s QCQ because I believe they are complementary to each other in making my point. Memes certainly have served as ‘weapons of the weak’ in our world today. We have seen this with the Black Lives Matter movement, the 2020 election, and many more things. However, in terms of fighting against authoritarian governments as individuals who are part of a democratic government that can spread information through memes freely (unlike China and Russia), I wanted to link this to a very relevant current situation.
As tensions began to rise between Russia and Ukraine, as military intelligence started to see the near reality of an invasion, memes exploded this information across platforms. The most common one that I saw was some variation of the meme to below.
While this meme is definitely in bad taste now (I did not make it), it was seen across most platforms. As the situation became more serious, the memes shifted in seriousness as well. People started to poke fun at Putin again, at his claims for why he invaded, and for how he won every single election with impossible percentages. The internet also started to shout out its support for Ukraine, and to highlight the nobility of their President quoting his words of how we wouldn’t abandon his country.
Memes may oppress those who live in authoritarian regimes, but those who live under democratic governments can’t be stopped in supporting the causes they are passionate about. Thus, I think there is something to be said about the political power of memes, especially given the current circumstances of Ukraine and how rapidly memes spread information.
Do you think memes shed inappropriate humor on serious topics such as what is happening in Ukraine, or do you think this humor propels the spread of the information in a positive way? Why or why not?