The internet is a strange, strange place. After all, what other forum would facilitate a global obsession with sticking your cat’s head through a piece of bread, taking a photo and then publishing it online for millions of other people to take a baffling interest in? One cannot help but wonder whether this was what Tim Berners-Lee really envisioned those twenty years ago.
Yet ‘breading’ (yes, I am saddened to say this particularly stupid phenomenon has an official name for it) is far from the most inane fad to have haunted my Facebook feed over the past week. In fact, cat-related humour, usually ranked up there with Abu Qatada and Michael McIntyre in terms of comedy value, was looking pretty damn funny in comparison to the sudden ‘meme-mania’ that has gripped the national student populous, to the detriment of brain cells everywhere.
To those of you who are living in a blissful hole, and are not one of the 3,342 ‘fans’ of this new vehicle of uni banter, a meme is simply a recognisable picture or person on which someone with too much time on their hands has superimposed some ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS text. At York, this has given rise to literally hundreds of babies punching the air, captioned with “Ate Willow prawn crackers, didn’t catch AIDS”, or Boromir, evidently taking time away from protecting the realms of Gondor, to instead profess “one does not simply order Efes sober”. I have to confess I didn’t even make it through all of the pictures on the group; after the fiftieth one, the experience became more akin to pouring tepid porridge into my own eyes.
Meme was actually a term coined by Richard Dawkins to describe any unit of popular culture transmission. Yet, to any outsider, flicking through these photoshopped masterpieces, our culture transmission here at York consists solely of drunken incidences in club toilets, often involving prawn crackers and geese, and even, on the occasion, Brian Cantor. The first one was funny. The two hundred and sixty first one, not so much. In fact, the way I feel about memes is remarkably similar to the way I feel about Keira Knightly; relatively innocuous to begin with, but am now filled with blind, undiluted rage at the mere mention of her name.
It’s not that I think life needs to be taken entirely seriously, far from it. Indeed, if we are looking for a lesson this week on quite how much of a tool you look if you do, we need seek no further than Nicholas Cage. His “pursuit of the truth” (as he prefers the profession of acting to be known) actually led him to embody his character’s role during the filming of what can only be described as the paradigm of high-art cinema, ‘The Ghost Rider 2’.
“I saw the fear in the other actor’s eyes and that only inspired me more to believe I was this spirit from another dimension” he told the BBC this week. “I have to find characters that allow me to realise, in the true sense of the word, my abstract dreams as a film maker.”
Brushing aside the fact that the man clearly needs to be sectioned – if for no other reason than to put a necessary stop to The Ghost Rider franchise – Nick has kindly demonstrated the dangers of overkill of another kind, the result of which, pardon the crudeness, results in having ones head earnestly stuck up one’s own ass.
So, with Cage in mind, I attempt to operate in this no-mans land between UniLad and self-congratulatory prick over this sensitive issue. I will certainly concede that thanks to the Internet, the space between my finding online fads mildly amusing to them provoking violent enmity within me has now shrunk down to microscopic time levels. Maybe years ago the meme-novelty would have proved less fleeting? Somehow, I highly doubt it.
He may have been wrong about many things, but vegetarian crusader, Morrissey, was on the money when he sang “that joke isn’t funny anymore”. So be it memes, cat-shaped celery or dubstep remixes of pretty much everything, let the internet backlash begin. I, for one, will be leading the charge.