As I further explore what the Internet has in store for its users, there is a category of familiar media posts that is not to be ignored: memes. To me, this word seems to be used fairly casually in recent society, but I have never truly been given a definition as to what this phenomenon really is. According to the popular slang dictionary Urban Dictionary defines a meme as a concept “that spreads throughout a culture” or as a “thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means.” To someone that is new to memetics (the study of memes), this definition is quite vague, and it doesn’t seem to be giving newcomers a clear understanding of memes. Therefore, let’s focus solely on the main types of memes that are seen frequently today and are usually spread via the Internet, which are commonly referred to as “Internet memes.” Webopedia more clearly explains that an Internet meme “spreads ‘virally’ from one person to another” and includes numerous types of online media, so typically anything that has been shared a large amount of times, especially over a short period of time, can be considered a meme.
Now that we all have a grasp of what a meme itself is, it is time to explore how they work in society. Obviously, the Internet is an important aspect of recent culture. (Otherwise having this blog wouldn’t be possible or necessary.) The Internet acts as a way to be connected to other online users, and as it was seen through my last blog post, there is now a certain Internet culture that is developing as a result. This culture includes many aspects of life; however, current events that have been modified to have additional humorous content is the main composition of Internet memes. Generally, memes are compromised of some image or parts of an image that is easily recognizable to the majority of people in a society, which can be considered as common knowledge, and some caption that is usually humorous in some way. For an Internet meme, it is a common pattern for images to repeatedly used alongside altered captions that generally follow some type of attitude.
In order to gain more perspective into this genre, I decided to focus on the meme of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar so as to be able to analyze memes as a whole further. As synthesized by Know Your Meme, this Internet sensation began its popularity in 2011 as a result of Leonardo DiCaprio being a well-known American actor who had never won an Academy Award despite several nominations. After the rise in popularity in a few images and short video clips of DiCaprio conveying longing at movie award ceremonies, the meme of this great American actor constantly searching for an Oscar became well known. However, the meme eventually came to a halt in 2016 when the actor finally won an Academy Award. This meme usually consists of images that are either of an emotional DiCaprio with text to portray his disappointment or of the actor’s face and of an Oscar edited onto a different image that also conveys his want of this accomplishment. It is common knowledge that (generally) only talented actors deserve and receive Oscars, which is the major premise of this meme. It is also generally assumed that Leonardo DiCaprio is included in this group as a talented actor, acting as the minor premise. Because the assumed conclusion to this enthymeme is that DiCaprio deserves an Oscar, the meme becomes humorous as a result of the irony that he had not yet won the award.
The above image is my personal attempt to create a meme that falls in the category of memes I have previously explored. The background image is Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” with Leonardo DiCaprio’s face overlaying Adam’s and the Oscar statue placed onto God. The painting itself conveys the connection between the first man and his creator with the deity just being out of reach; this directly relates to the DiCaprio meme since the actor longs for this prized award that always just seems to be out of his reach. Although this is a simple example, it is clear that memes can be easily created to serve the purpose of continuing a popular trend in a humorous way.