August 8, 2018
The basic reality of memes in the modern era is that content creators and viewers alike inappropriately attempt to frame themselves as the main protagonist. Often, this results in the viewer being less likely to relate to the meme or falsely overestimating the weight of their own perspective. Worst of all, the oft-ignored perspectives of other characters in a given meme are never explored. We miss opportunities when we narrowly presume ourselves the “hero,” in what most of us believe to be our Hero’s Journey. As such, it’s imperative that we adjust our perspectives when creating content.
As an example, in the Car Veering Interstate Exit meme, most content creators frame themselves as the subject of the meme by placing the text “me” over the car. But if the perspective is shifted, one can easily become the right or the left side of the billboard. Because this exercise is so subjective, I encourage my students to review the status quo with honestly. With the awareness of bias in their minds, they can then adjust their work and produce content that carries maximum value.
Another example of heroic perspective is Kermit and Sinister Kermit. Original Kermit is often led astray by the sinister version of his inner desires. Most, assuming themselves to be moral, tend to identify as original Kermit...but if perspective is re-calibrated just so, the meme would be grounded much more firmly in reality. In fact, it would become relatable to those going through similar struggles. As it currently stands for most, comfort is the default.
Yet, comfort isn’t always doing what’s easy or right. A moral conscience calls for an appeal to our better selves in Original Kermit, but our default setting more closely resembles the sinister version of Kermit.
We are not always the main character of the story. We are often bystanders. More often than not, we are not the hero and our story-line is far from the Hero’s Journey. So let’s be mindful in our meme creation. Rather than try to present ourselves through rose-colored glasses, we should aim to create with value and relatability.