Dank Memes for Chifley Screens
Elizabeth is a Canberra native studying a very rarely seen degree at the ANU – LLB/Arts. Her column seeks to incorporate hard truths (common in the legal world) and dank memes. Not wanting her memes to be dreams, Elizabeth hopes to be a pioneer in the art historical study of memes
Danielle Ann is an icon, nay a stalwart proponent, of democratisation. We all know her, she of ‘cash me ousside howbow dah’ fame. Those enrolled in the intellectual breeding grounds which are the other G8 universities may well think that memes simply provide opportunities to tag friends. As thought leaders, we know better; it is clear to us that memes are supported by a complex art-historical scaffold. Furthermore, they are tools of our political and social machinations.
The advent of memes has shown us that this quality can be recreated, through the convergence of recognisability and original thought. The 17th century book Iconologia explained prominent symbols of its time, and was consulted by artists as they created their works. Knowyourmeme.com is our Iconologia.
As anyone who took ANTH1002 will know, the original definition of a meme is a cultural trait passed between humans by non-genetic means. Every time you tag someone, you teach them to ‘cash you ousside’, pull the lever or, more practically, to communicate their ideas to you with images and nihilistic captions.
So, Danielle’s command to ‘cash her ousside’, combined with her rhetorical ‘howbow dah’ is loaded with meaning. Her appearance on Dr Phil at her mother’s request, so that she can be ‘dealt with’, when coupled with her challenge to ‘cash her ousside’, may in fact be a comment on pseudo-science. The solutions provided by Dr Phil are mere entertainment for the masses. Danielle points to real world solutions – her bizarrely appropriated language underlining the absurdity of the situation they are in. How did we get here? Marx might have suggested that the production of too many useful things results in too many useless people. While Dr Phil has his place (mostly as filler on Oprah), the day-time TV drug is all too tempting to the proles.
Speaking of the masses, the subsequent combination of Danielle’s statement with an elocution lesson from Hermione Granger in this particular iteration of the meme brings yet more meaning to this study in classism. Danielle’s rebellion against her mother, and even her appearance on Dr Phil, may be indicative of a certain class upbringing setting her at odds with wider society. Here, Danielle addresses Hermione’s correction directly: challenging us to question whether it is the pronunciation and background, or the message communicated, that really matters.
Another possible interpretation is that this meme could represent a Pygmalion-esque transformation of Danielle. But is this glorification of the petit bourgeoisie and its affectations really desirable? We should ask whether these memes – an opiate of the people – are perhaps working only to lull us into a sense of peace when faced with the degradation of the proletariat. Alternatively, is this an attempt to elevate her to the intelligentsia, to lead a new generation of revolutionaries?