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Where do we draw the line?

Last posted May 04, 2009 at 01:54PM EDT. Added Apr 26, 2009 at 02:56PM EDT
19 posts from 7 users

I want to thank everyone for all of the participation, we’re getting multiple meme entry submissions every day coming in from our users.

But once again, I feel the need to ask the forum, what constitutes an Internet Meme to you?

I know that previously the more vocal members of these forums have expressed that something should have either been born on the internet or otherwise needed the internet to spread in order to be considered an Internet Meme.

Jean Luc Picard is borderline. Had it not been for the Jean Luc Picard song used on the YTMND and Youtube videos, I would have been in the “you’re no meme” camp. But looking at the content, it surely works as an Internet meme.

This morning we have a number of meme entry submissions that I’m once again on the fence about.

#1. Burger King. The character of the King himself. Yes, the ad agency behind the current “Creepy King” has done an excellent job with their viral marketing campaign, and this may have inspired some fan-created King material, but when it comes right down to it, anyone who proliferates any Burger King related memetic material is only acting as a voluntary Burger King advertiser.

#2. “Can’t sleep, the clowns will eat me.” This was a popular Simpson’s catch-phrase in 1992. This is like if we had “I am the great Cornholio” in the MemeDB. Can anyone tell me how this is an Internet meme and not just another “Don’t have a cow, man” or “Scuzzlebutt?”

There are a few more that were added this morning that were not Internet Memes at all. Remember, if no one is creating imitations of it, then it is absolutely not an internet meme.

Well, ol’ Richie Dawkins coined the term meme by shortening the Greek word mimema which means “something imitated”. I always thought if something was imitated, parodied or spread by a large, diverse group of people, insta-meme. But, I don’t think that theory is 100% accurate.

The classical treatment of memetics allows for really broad application. According to Dawkins, everything from Protestantism to mustaches to linguistic contractions can all be considered memes.

Know Your Meme tries to focus on how to define an “Internet Meme.” In doing so, we like to get our audience’s input into what constitutes an Internet Meme. Here is what we have established so far.

The meme can be a catch-phrase, image macro, type of website, or really any kind of online content that spreads virally and takes on a number of different mutations that were created by an active user base.

The meme should preferably been born online, but this isn’t a black and white issue. Sometimes something is a product of the mainstream media, (such as Mudkips from Pokemon) but the usage is subverted to something new, used in different ways, ways that do not actually serve to advertise the original product.

The derivatives should be many and various. They should be created by many people, not one single person. If the derivatives are found to be the result of an organized marketing campaign, then it is considered an act of Astroturfing or a disguised attempt at marketing that is made to appear to be a grassroots effort but is actually orchestrated by a corporation or individual with their own purposes (which the Wii Fit girl basically is)

To me, the word “meme” means many things.

First of all, it is the foregoing or corruption of all mainstream ties to a particular phrase, object or image. For example, Yo Dawg was a corruption of Xibit’s jargon and (quite retarded) TV show, Mudkipz were a corruption of classic Pokemon fare (especially considering the main theory behind it’s beginning; the post on 4chan), etc. Meme’s also seem to flourish from obscure sources (esp. Japan). Examples of these are Domo, Kuma (Pedobear), the Cockmongler, Caturday, Desu, and OVER 9000! Things that would not seem noteworthy or important whatsoever become a cultural phenomenon online.

Secondly, memes must spread on their own. People can do research on memes, see the meme in underground locations; however, the meme must NEVER be targeted at people. I don’t really consider these memes; more like unfortunate pseudo-advertising of a specific idea. Milhouse is the product of such pathetic force-memeing.

Third, a meme should have a semi-rich history on its origins. I don’t really know how to explain this; it kind of explains itself.

Just my two cents.

Hello, quick question for you guys. I’m submitting a university paper on discourse and the internet and have chosen memes as one of the topics for analysis. I need to look at some of the discussion surrounding the concept of the internet meme and came across this discussion thread. As part of an ethical research methodology I’d like to get permission from you to use some of the discussion above in my paper. Any objections? I won’t refer to you by name but will put a link to the page in the paper.


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