Talkin’ ’bout Meme Generation


I’ll confess, I’m not a Who fan, but the title was a perfect fit to something I want to address. What’s that, the Jackverse cries out?

MEMES.

Say what? You mean those guys in the black and white that clowns hate? No my dears, not MIMES…MEMES. And why are MEMES something to be addressed? Because we’re facing what I’m calling The MEME Generation.

My Cat Bazo

A Meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures.

Here’s the thing about memes — they are not only transient, they are temporary. Make sense? Think:

  • Honey badger
  • Snooki
  • Brodawg
  • Wazzzup

You get the idea. A meme is, effectively, something viral that gains enormous cultural popularity and then quickly fades away and becomes passe. A meme is not so much a part of our culture but a part of our culture’s short term memory. To be quite frank (because being Shirley requires more makeup than I care to deal with), this bothers me. Why? Let me explain.

Society has become more concerned with memes than long-term recognition. This is quite counter to brand recognition or a lasting effect on society, consumers, or the collective cultural conscience. The desire to become a meme has overtaken the need to last. Why? People want fame, fortune, and/or popularity NOW. This makes sense based on the waning attention span of society. But it doesn’t makes sense for longevity.

The idea of memes has permeated everything. Even network television has become more concerned with hit and run TV than long lasting, quality programming. Train wreck television costs the networks very little to produce, they don’t have to worry about the egos and higher demands of real actors, and newer (and even more horrible) ideas pop up every day. Very little creative energy has to be expended in the creation of these shows — they just find a disaster and make drama. And it doesn’t matter if the show lasts only a season as it is nothing more than a bridge to yet another disaster.

Beyond entertainment, younger generations have become obsessed with drive-by fame to the point where they will do anything to get their “Warhol 15”.

Case in point…and I shudder to even bring this to light here on the Jackverse…

Honey BooBoo

I can’t believe I even typed that train wreck title. But there ya go. That “reality” TV show is proof in the pudding that networks only care about flash in the pan success. All they must do is string together years of worthless MEMEvision and they’ll be sitting atop a pile of blood money gained at the sake of humanity’s very pride.

I see this within nearly every artistic endeavor — artists seeking flash in the pan fame thinking it will serve as a bridge to a bigger, brighter star.  But when fame burns out as quickly as it was given life, that fame is fleeting. Instead, artists (and networks) should be focused on generating long term interest in their creations. In other words, the slow, steady build is going to last a lot longer than a MEME.

Fifty Shades of Grey might get a movie, but in a couple of years, no one will recall the title and even fewer will recall the originator of the work. Why? MEMES.

What scares me most about this is the generations of children being weened on memes. Their attention span has become so brief they’ll be driving network television to create Micro-movies — as they won’t be able to pay attention for longer than fifteen minutes. When that happens — everything will be driven by MEMES.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand and appreciate the power of the MEME — I just don’t want my brand or my work to become a MEME. Why? I want my babies to be around for decades and beyond. I don’t want fly by night fame or drive by success. I’ll gladly work hard and make sure I’ve put my time in. I want what is best for the worlds and characters I have created. And for my fans — I want them to know the worlds of I Zombie, Fringe Killers, Shero, and all the rest are here for the long haul.