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Kanye Interrupts... authentic or astroturfed?

Last posted Sep 24, 2009 at 06:38PM EDT. Added Sep 15, 2009 at 01:08AM EDT
32 posts from 16 users

Ok, this ‘phenomenon’ is obviously Mainstream sourced…

And pushed…

With a bunch of Twitter juice for whatever that’s worth…

And there are derivatives of dubious origin…

What makes this ‘authentic’ or ‘inauthentic’? How do we qualify our categorization?

There’s something really fishy about this. We’ve gotten this meme submitted over and over today. First I deadpooled entries, then I started deleting. But they keep coming. Someone is trying to push this meme hard.

FWIW, I’ve collected some Kanye related images showing up on /b/ the last 24 or so hours to see how this one plays out. Looks like “Sorry to interrupt” is turning into a whole thing, Chris.

Here are some “highlights”:

I see what you’re talking about

Main submission:


I dunno, I think it just exploded is all. when I saw it on /b/ today I was like “oh I wonder if I should submit this to Know Your Meme” luckily I know how to look around first before posting though. :P

It was exploding on /b/ yesterday, soon after the maintream thing happened.
The first thing I saw was the BlocKanye ’shop thing.

I don’t know if it’s astroturfed of even forced because the trend seemed appreciated by many.

One of the first videos I watched yeserday morning around 9:00AM was that “Kanye Interrupts Obama” video. This was a spoof on Obama getting interrupted by Joe Wilson in Congress last week.

The youtube user who created the video, freeyourpixels, had already been playing around with a video of President Obama getting interrupted last week.

So basically, even though the Kanye Scandal was already a mainstream event, freeyourpixels was already positioned perfectly to exploit it. Throw one major interruption into another, and be the first to do it, and you’re golden.
Over 1.5 million views in only a day, and the #1 most viewed of the day. Not to mention, roughly 70 people also reuploaded his video in an attempt to get a piece of the action.

There are plenty of things we can analyze about this event. It’s not what I would call an organic meme, but it might reveal some interesting things about these single-day explosive phenomena. I think the next step is to find out who freeyourpixels is.

I was suspicious of all the reposts we got yesterday (yesterday was a Twilight Zone of bizarre internet phenomena) but today I’m confident that the users who kept reposting just felt the urge to share the meme and got overzealous. I wouldn’t call it pushing the meme. It seems like a genuine massive explosion of interest. Sort of a perfect-storm of hype.

What do you mean fake?

Are you implying that Taylor Swift was in on it? If that were the case, why would it be in her interests to take part in it? Kanye is the one getting most of the press. Kanye is the one everyone is talking about. Taylor Swift is just attached to the situation by being the one that Kanye dissed. It could have been anybody. I’d say it’s possible that Kanye pulled this stunt to get some publicity, but it’s only as fake as the rest of Kanye’s persona. Make of that what you will.


My personal take on ‘fake’ or ‘inauthentic’ stems from the fact that every year, MTV attempts to engineer ‘buzz’ around its VMA event by manufacturing a perceived outrage. The Britney-Madonna ‘lesbian’ kiss. Sasha Baron Cohen in a harness, wearing a thong, being lowered onto Eminem’s face. This year it was ‘Kanye Interrupts’. I’ve heard some people say that even though this was engineered, that doesn’t matter since the activity (image macros, YT mashups, etc) are ‘real.’ Personally, I think there’s still something interesting in that.

If I were to guess, I’d say that ‘Kanye Interrupts’ will probably have a trajectory much like the Christian Bale Rant. They are both mainstream-sourced memes as opposed to mainstream-derived (Jean Luc Picard). It’ll shine bright at the beginning and burn out fast.

But unlike Christian Bale Rant which saw it take the form of 2004-era internet media (mp3 remixes, sound boards) Kanye exploded on /b/ and so there are Advice Dog iterations, it’s own Yo Dawg-like image macro, and Kanye-Taylor Swift 4 panes.

To me, this makes it interesting shit.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest this meme will be timeless.

It will be used in the future in contributions to other new memes, especially ones that involve “upstaging”.

Just as Advise Dog and Yo Dawg are hasbeens, this one will be too, but will continue to live on as a related response in contributing to other memes.

LOL, a friend of mine expressed a similiar sentiment about the event being staged. Paraphrasing what he said: "Taylor Swift comes off as a poor wronged sweetheart, Beyonce comes off as a Diva-with-a-heart-of-gold for sacrficing her time to let Taylor Swift finish, and Kanye gets to push his “edgy” image." Kanye may be in the news more, but I think Taylor Swift’s next album will do pretty good sales.

Exactly. So for me, while amusing, the meme seems “tainted” considering the idea that MTV “forced” it. While the “internet meme machine” likely genuinely reacted to the original event with all due flair and creativity, it leaves the meme with a bitter aftertaste.

Each time I view a play off of the event go from :D to ಠ_ಠ

Kanye’s interruption was a well-publicized mainstream event, no doubt. Kanye has had a long history of playing by the “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” principle.

What was unexpected was that a clearly formatted joke would arise and catch on in a homogeneous fashion. Although the first round of photoshops seemed to be lacking in a common thread, within the first 24 hours, the act of recontextualizing Kanye’s words began to arise.

This massive and sudden proliferation of parodies sharing a common theme created by hundreds if not thousands of individuals is what qualifies this as a meme. Furthermore, a large portion of this coordinated parody-creating behavior arose on 4chan.

Before anyone had declared this a meme, it was happening on 4chan and many other message boards. Certainly, once this behavior was noticed, many sites publicized the meme that was born out of Kanye’s outburst, ourselves included; and this obviously promoted the act of participation. But there’s no way that someone could ever declare this a meme and then expect 4chan to just follow suit.


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