Memes, Multimodality, Social Media, SpongeBob, Twitter

Viral Memes: An Analysis.

‘Mocking SpongeBob…’

Meme’s are platforms for every day humour using contexts that are political, social, humorous or purely entertainment. According to Rodney Jones and Christoph Hafner memes can be defined at ‘an idea which spreads like a virus’ (2012: 196) therefore a successful meme can be viewed by hundreds of spectators. Internet memes can occur in different forms such as macro-images, videos and GIF’s. I have chosen to review the ‘Mocking SpongeBob’ macro-image.

Figure One: Stock Image. Source: Complex.com.

Origin.

The stock-image for the ‘Mocking SpongeBob’ meme (figure one) is a image from the episode ‘The Little Yellow Book’ – SpongeBob SquarePants. This episode was first aired on November 25th 2012. The meme originally appearing May 4th 2017, is used by people to mock one another. The original sign maker of the macro-image is Twitter user @OGBEARD (figure two). He created the sign with the intention to mock when children stare.

Figure Two: SpongeMock. Source: @OGBEARD_ Twitter Account.

The first few days of the image-macro appearing the tweet was shared over 73,000 times. Due to the level of popularity other sign makers produced hundreds of variations of the original, through different contexts, languages, and topics. According to Jones and Hafner ‘ordinary people are now empowered to reach a wide audience by publishing their own content and commenting on the content of others’ (2012: 90). This is due to the ideology that as a society we no longer live in a information economy, but rather an attention economy.

Variations. 

Between May 2017 and July 2017 ‘Mocking SpongeBob’ received the highest level of attention (figure three). The high level of new memes produced at a rapid scale means the attention economy lasts roughly a month before new memes begins to “trend”. As social networking expands and becomes more expansive in what it can achieve the attention economy becomes limited on how long it will last. There is always another sign maker developing a newer, more relevant meme that will distract the audience.

Figure Three: Trending Graph. Source: Google Trends (2017)

In reference to Richard Dawkins ‘memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which […] can be called imitation’ (Dawkins 2006: 192) thus with more popularity comes more attention. This can encourage others to produce their own variations (figure four) of the original stock image and give them the power to portray their own opinions. The bigger social following of the sign maker, the more attention economy their meme will receive.

Figure Four: Variations. Source: Google Images.

Conclusion.

Mocking SpongeBob’ fits well into Davidson’s point of manifestation. The manifestation of the meme is a popular cartoon character mocking a person or subject; the behaviour is to mock, propagate opinion and entertain; and the ideal is that is represents opinion and humour. Overall the meme achieves all of these resulting in the memes popularity. With the use of a popular cartoon character and the audiences schema the meme becomes powerful.

 

 

Bibliography & References:

Dawkins, R. (2006). The Selfish Gene, 30th anniversary edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Google.images. (2017). Mocking SpongeBob Meme [online] available from <https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=mocking+spongebob&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiA7prCvLzYAhURUlAKHWQcBGsQsAQIJg&biw=1396&bih=662> [3rd January 2018]

Google.trends. (2018). Mocking SpongeBob Meme: Interest over time [online] available from <https://trends.google.co.uk/trends/explore?q=mocking%20spongebob%20meme> [3rd January 2018]

Jones, R. H. & Hafner, C. A. (2012) Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical Introduction. Oxon: Routledge.

NavixSports. (2017). SpongeBob acts like a chicken – NeW mEmE 2017 [online] available from <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MphnVOvLfTo> [3rd January 2018]

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