February 9, 2022
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Butler University

Brown Bag Series: Internet Memes: Stigma, Stereotype, or Social Justice?; Tom Mould (Anthropology), presenter

Union Board Room
Room 326
Carol Baker

Hand-wringing op-eds and sensational headlines have been demonizing internet memes as the death of democratic discourse ever since the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Their assumed triviality, superficiality, and transitory nature, coupled with the disinformation, manipulation, and bigotry that characterized so much of their use during the election, has made memes an easy scapegoat for how democracy can be subverted through social media. The alarm bells are not unwarranted, but it is a mistake to assume that memes operate in a vacuum as a discrete medium or carry with them the indiscriminate destructive power of a nuclear bomb. This talk will explore the power of memes to fight against damaging racial, regional, and class-based stereotypes both through humor, irony, and parody, as well as by evoking more robust cultural narratives. The session will focus particularly on contemporary anti-poverty memes and consider why some work, and others only make matters worse.

Inclusion Advocate Designated

Space is limited; RSVP Required. (In-person and Zoom options available)