Meme Genres and Features

There are about 3 main categories of internet memes. There are Photoshops, stock character macros, and photo fads (Limor). By the time the author wrote this the nature of many different categories of memes have transformed but the three main genres still exist. More and more the stock photos are changing into ordinary people. This is mostly like due to the available images on the internet there is no more reason to look through stock photos. The intent of the photos being ordinary people make the memes seem more real.


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This is the album cover from Drakes new Album "Views". It features him sitting on the CN building in Toronto Canada gazing down on the city. It quickly became a meme after people starting photoshopping Drake onto different buildings and structures.

This image shows a photoshopped Drake sitting on top of the high school I went. This shows how easy it is to make a photoshopped meme.


Stock Character Macros

This photo was a screenshot that someone took during the film Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It features the actor Sean Bean. The image then turned into a stock character macro that always begins with saying "One does not simply ____" For example.

The Stages of Becoming a Meme

There are stages that can take place before something can become a meme. First, the image or video starts in the first stage as spreadable media. This is something that becomes spread throughout the internet. Spreadable media is different than a meme, though. Spreadable media can only become a meme through remixing and new iterations (Wiggins & Bowers, 1894). The first step that spreadable media takes to becoming a meme is becoming an emergent meme. An emergent meme is when spreadable media. When the spreadable media is beginning to be remixed and appropriated it turns into an emergent meme. Once the emergent meme is then remixed it then becomes a fully realized meme. To put it in basic the a fully evolved meme would by a meme squared. Now this shows how spreadable media turns into a meme.I will show you the Michael Jordan crying meme that will be discussed in more detail in the sports memes section.The crying face started out as spreadable media. It was taken during Jordan’s 2009 Hall of Fame Induction.

The crying face originally wasn’t that popular. The first use of it as an emergent meme was the crying face the block letters that read “Why did I buy the Bobcats?” ("Crying Michael Jordan").

Then the emergent meme became a meme after it was remixed even more. For example, these:

The meme was made after the Black Hawks lost in the first round of the NHL playoffs. This was a huge disappointment to fans because the one the Stanley cup the year before.


Key Features of Memes

There are three principals of memes. Memes are transferred from person to person but then turn into a huge social phenomenon. It is this act of social diffusion that causes memes to become popular. The second principal is that memes are designed to be imitated. Memes are things that are spread but are a lot likethe game telephone. Each new person that it is shared with can add their own little twist to the meme. The two ways of altering memes are mimicry and remixing. Mimicry is the act of imitation to make fun of something. The other facet of altering is remixing which is where the content can by drastically changed and edited. The third principal of memes is diffusion. There are two stages of this which include competition and selection. This is the step where you which memes become popular or not (Shiftman, 362-77).

There are three key features of every meme. That would be content, form, and stance. The content are the ideas that are conveyed by the meme. The form are the physical dimensions of the meme. This would be how the meme is usually organized. The last key feature is the stance of the meme or the claim that the meme makes (Shiftman, 362-77).
Using these key features I will analyze the original Michael Jordan crying face meme and its iterations. The content of the original was mocking Michael Jordan for buying the Charlotte Bobcats. This is because they are pretty bad team. Most of the interactions of the meme used to mock sports teams, celebrities, and political figures that are having a hard time. Usually, if a sports team loses, something embarrassing happens to a celebrity, or if a politician loses an election.

The form of the original meme just had Michael Jordan’s face and then block letters. The forms of iterations usually include the crying face replacing the head of a whole person. Sometimes it might include a whole team or audience.
The stance of the original memes was that Michael is sad that he bought the Bobcats. The stance of the different iterations is that the people that they are mocking are sad because of an event. For the Hulk Hogan example, he’s crying after being fired by the WWE after recordings of him saying racist comments were released.

The popularity of the meme is due primarily to the fact that Michael Jordan is arguably one of the most famous athletes on the planet. The other reason is that it can constantly be used in different context. This is because there will always be bad things and disappointment that will always happen to someone famous. As long as there doesn’t become an alternate meme that can be used as a substitute for disappointment the Michael Jordan crying face will continue to be reused and remixed. 


Memes have been ingrained in our internet culture. In the Groupme app there is an option to turn any photo you have into a meme. The question is why have memes become so popular in our culture?
Memes function as a type of amateur creativity. People should be allowed to use these images to create their own type of art (Lessig).  This is because know almost anyone with access to a computer can create or remix a meme. 


Work Cited

"Crying Michael Jordan." Know Your Meme. N.p., 5 May 2015. Web. 10 May 2016.
Lessig, Lawrence. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.

Shifman, Limor. "Memes in a Digital World: Reconciling with a Conceptual Troublemaker." Journal of Computer- Mediated Communication 18.3 (2013): 362-77. Wiley Online Library. Web. 10 May 2016.

Shifman, Limor. "The Cultural Logic Of Photo-Based Meme Genres." Journal Of Visual Culture 13.3 (2014): 340-358. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 May 2016.
Wang, Junhua, and Hua Wang. "From A Marketplace To A Cultural Space: Online Meme As An Operational Unit Of Cultural Transmission." Journal Of Technical Writing & Communication 45.3 (2015): 261-274. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 May 2016.

Wiggins, Bradley E., and G. Bret Bowers. "Memes As Genre: A Structurational Analysis Of The Memescape." New Media & Society 17.11 (2015): 1886-1906. Academic Search Complete. Web. 9 May 2016.


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