The Meme Machines

By Bryson Clark

Can being an internet meme be a gift or a curse? Over the past few years, memes have been a thing that’ll make you laugh, even as they make fun of something serious. They all affect us in different ways, but what about the stars of those memes?

Some memes bring us joy, but sometimes, it’s not as enjoyable for the stars of them. For example, Harambe, a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, was killed after a young boy fell into his enclosure. The internet obsessed over the slain beast and made memes, joking about it and praising him. The Cincinnati Zoo on the other hand, cared deeply about Harambe, and felt as if he was a beloved family member. The zoo disliked the jokes about him on the Internet, and reached out hoping to stop it. The Internet though, responded exponentially with memes, eventually leading to the shut down of the Cincinnati Zoo’s Twitter account.

But not all memes have negative effects, 14822750193_a61a0e22be_osome of them have surprisingly positive effects. Lazy Town for instance, a mid 2000’s kids show, left its mark with many different memes. Most of the memes are songs sung by the shows villain Robbie Rotten, played by Stefán Karl Stefánsson. In 2016, his song,
 We Are Number One  skyrocketed in the meme community out of nowhere. Normally, memes start to die down after a month, but some upsetting news has kept this meme going to this day. In October, Stefánsson announced his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. This news not only caused his popularity to spike, but allowed memes to do good for the star. His previous co-stars met up with him for a GoFundMe live stream to raise money for his treatment, where they performed We Are Number One, for their fans. The GoFundMe campaign raised over $115,000 as of January 2017, when the goal was $100,000. Stefánsson now can afford treatment for his cancer thanks to his fans, and is still an internet sensation thanks to the memes.
Memes can either be a blessing or a curse for the stars. We can all agree as the viewers of these memes that we enjoy them, however some people need to stop and think about the people who star in them and those who could be affected by them.

Featured Image: By Mème du doge [CC0 1.0]  via Wikipedia

Lazy Town: By Jun ong [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

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