The creation and dissemination of memes has also become a steady news hook as everyone rushes to profile the latest Twitter account or Tumblr blog to come out of any news event. Again especially in the wake of all the election cycle news there’s been no shortage of people who rush to be the first to create an Empty Obama or some other sort of related social media profile. And the news media has realized that, in the age of “The Daily Show” and its ilk there are plenty of people who will rush to read their coverage.
While there are lots of people who are (rightly) pointing out that creating a meme isn’t something that can just be arbitrarily done – like “viral,” becoming a meme is a result not a construct – I think that overlooks the meta point, which is this:
The creation of this sort of online miscellania has in and of itself become a meme, one in which we’re all participating.
The media, whether they’re the ones creating these sorts of insta-tweaks of current events or the ones attempting to show their cultural relevance by covering them, are both after the same thing: An increasingly cynical audience that feels it needs fast, easy, humorous and immediately disposable entry points into the news of the day. This is an audience that may or may not read op-eds and probably doesn’t give much weight to their local newspapers political endorsements but they do know what makes them *feel* something and often that’s an immediate skewering of a person or institution they feel is out of touch. It doesn’t need to be great, it just needs to be now.
Eventually this sort of thing will fade out of favor as something else is latched on to. Honestly if we’re already at the point where there’s a cottage industry of gif producers who are professionally covering presidential debates we might already be on the downswing of the trend. You can’t corporately co-opt a format that was embraced as an outlet for the everyday sarcasm practitioner without that group turning a cynical eye to how their expression outlet has been unironically used. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t served a purpose, primarily to show that there’s nothing ridiculous that can’t be immediately captioned and spread online by the audience and to the audience.