Maybe this disqualifies me from even speaking, but I am not going to watch any of the Charles Ramsey meme videos or tublrs. I think they are clearly exploitative and are mocking of him because he is not polished and smooth on camera. This very case was broken because he chose to put himself out there in public, probably knowing in the back of his mind he might well look foolish, in order to save these 3 women from unspeakable horror. I do not want to do anything to possibly dissuade the next good samaritan from doing the right thing. I'm sorry but I don't think the LULZ of these things even begin to tip the scale next to the importance of people feeling they can step forward. I think we all have plenty of funny things that do not mock, demean, or make fun of people we perceive to be "dumb." Of course, I don't watch hoarder shows, Cops, or anything like that either. Schadenfruede is not very pleasant to me.
I'm just curious -- your refusal to watch is laudable, if you feel the treatment is demeaning. But, ehm, how do you know it's demeaning if you're refusing to watch? What are you basing your opinions on? What you've read other people say? What I've said here? (Dear me, don't base anything on anything I say.)
Now I'm sitting at my desk weeping. Thanks?
Her work is truly marvelous, isn't it? Just filled with so much humanity, and all of its attendant ridiculousness and tragedy.
It's no more offensive than the "Hilarious Redneck Neighbor" or the "Hilarious Latino Neighbor" or the "Hilarious Asian Neighbor" that are interviewed on local news broadcasts daily. Each one will invariably act in a stereotypical manner during the course of the interview, and will be posted online, and some will gain a viral following. It usually just depends on how humorous the interaction (cf. Antoine Dodson), but in this case the national press coverage, as well as the nature of the underlying news story, accelerated the viral "infection vector". I don't find the meme either glorifying or mocking -- I find it more contemptuous because it's really about other people using a tired trope to wring the last few drops of relevance out of an overexposed meme.
Thanks. Maybe (probably?) I'm blanking, but I'm not coming up with as many examples of this type of meme employed on other demographics. Not that they don't exist, just that I've thankfully blocked them from my memory?
really? in any event - you're the only person seemingly, in these chats who embeds something to open in a new window. My hero.
I put in the "allegedly" just because the Poytner piece seemed to raise the issue that another man -- who didn't speak English and thus might not have gotten as much credit -- was the one to actually free them from the door, and that Ramsey came upon afterward.
I have no idea if that is correct. But I do think that we are quick to build up heroes and equally quick to tear them down (and meme them down) in this day and age, sometimes before all the facts are in.
honestly, I think he's having fun with this stuff - he's seemingly mocking himself. he seems pretty darn bright.
Huh. I didn't get the impression that he was mocking himself at all. I got the impression that he was -being- himself, and that, like many of us, he found himself thrust into a spotlight without any media training and said whatever came to mind.
Remember Charlie Sheen? There's definitely some underlying racial issues - and/or cultural issues - in what the "mainstream" finds funny/outlandish/etc. But there are plenty of black people who found "hide yo kids, hide yo wife" hilarious. It was funny. Charlie Sheen was a rich white dude saying crazy things. Also funny.
I think there is a difference between the meme-ing of Antoine Dodson and Charles Ramsey. Antoine Dodson came across like a natural star. He knew how to turn a phrase. He had natural cadence and rhythm. More than a year after his debut, we can still quote him from memory: "Hide your kids, hide your wife, hide your husbands -- they're raping everybody."
But three days after Charles Ramsey, I'm hard pressed to quote anything he said. The general gist, yes, but nothing eminently quotable. Which might be why this feels more mocking than Antoine Dodson's did to me.
Now the Hyperbole & a Half blog post has me feeling all angsty, coz that's me on most days. But the fact that I feel angsty means I'm feeling something, right? And this chat is still anonymous, right? Oh man, this is going to be a long afternoon....
I think if reading the blog post shook any emotions loose in you, then that's a good thing. Right?
I'm distressed by the whole trend of feeling like we HAVE to have some kind of an opinion about the minor figures involved in these cases. He's a complex human being - and aren't we all? - who found himself tangentially connected to a horror show by chance. It's only within the last few years, with the rise of YouTube and the popularization of internet meme culture, that we've felt a need to latch on to these characters long beyond the context of the story. It's distressing because it turns these people into fodder for the media steamroller just like the victims and perps already are, putting them at risk for stalkers and the unearthing of all their past sins and other strangeness just because of a freak occurrence. See also: the Sandy Hook parents, who've become the target of deranged conspiracy theorists convinced that they're "crisis actors" used by the government to trick the country into supporting gun control.
I take your point. That being said -- this is a chat dedicated largely to talking about the Internet and popular culture. I try not to post videos for the heck of it, but rather when I think that something online can be used to help us explore what we're watching means. What are the ethical, moral, humane issues involved in the memes of the day? I try not to present discussion topics for prurient interest.
I read Allie's post today. I am a big fan, especially of her language and grammar-focused pieces. Actually, I like them alot. What does it say about me and life moving at the speed of light that I didn't realize she hadn't posted since 2011? That frightens me a little bit, and makes me sad.
Like sands through an hour glass, so are the days of our lives.
Hi--thoughts on the first trailer for the Ender's Game movie? I really like the first look at that battle training room and think that Harrison Ford and Ender were well cast.
I can't bring myself to watch it. I just love this book too much. Do I really want to click on the trailer? (Quick, other people watch it and let me know).
This makes me very happy. However long it's been since I found this comic, I don't think I've ever once buckled down to really clean my house without thinking, "wait...clean *all* the things?" To find someone else who was faking the whole being-a-grown-up thing -- and who's brave enough to admit it! -- that was big.
It's funny how events like banking or buying light bulbs feel exciting the first time one does them as a grown-up. And then one realizes: That's all there is.
Did you follow Maureen Johnson's Coverflip contest? Well known books have their covers altered as if the author were the opposite sex. The Huffington Post has a slideshow of some of them.
First, thanks for the well done Katherine Russell piece. Not sure I can say I "liked" or "enjoyed" it -- those don't seem to be the right words to describe my reading experience -- but it was an interesting read.
Now, on to my issue du jour, or issue de semaine as the case may be: is anyone as offended by the misappropriation of the "Keep Calm and ____ On" meme as I am? Given the history of the original "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters as a morale booster during the time when British civilians were having bombs rained down on their heads by Nazis, it really bothers me when I come across a similarly styled "Keep Calm and Rock On" banner on a some music website. It's kind of like coming across an "Uncle Sam Wants You... To Party" poster/banner, which I think we'd all think was a bit tacky. (OK, maybe not...)
However, the last straw was "Keep Calm and You Only Live Once" -- notwithstanding that it doesn't adhere to the "and _____ On" format, I would argue that mixing the mildly offensive misappropriation with the insipid YOLO theme increases the offense to a level up with which a civilized online community should not put. How do we make this stop? (I asks rhetorically....)
I put this forth to the class: Is anyone else irritated by the "Keep Calm And..." preponderence? I think it's a bit tired and overused, but wouldn't have thought of it as offensive.
And frankly, I think the "Keep Calm and You Only Live Once" variation is the most clever, because it recognizes that both of these phrases are overworked and tired. Mashing them together becomes a self-referential, winking nod.
Thought your piece on the wife was marvelous, especially the stylistic choice you made.
As far as the memes, it is so entirely inappropriate. Perhaps the people who make them think that that men like Ramsey or Dodson are laughing with them, but we are only laughing at them, most notably for being what we (or the creators) perceive to be a lessness, an inferiority, a lower status. They are funny (I guess) because they are uneducated and unruly and unpredictable. The memes reflect far more on the creators/consumers than they do on the subjects. And even more, The Atlantic Wire has consistently pointed out that these men were actually dealing with something serious in these interviews...not meme fodder. All that being said, despite being young, I fully admit that I am not one of those people who enjoys YouTube videos much, if at all. So I am certainly not the demographic
It -is- interesting that, as you and another chatter have pointed out, these characters have become the "comic relief" for horrific events. Maybe they're the new unwitting Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
My answers to the poll questions are B and C. I hadn't really given it much thought but I'm used to seeing the most "coloful" witness interviewed on the news. Living in a southern state, it's guaranteed that someone giving an eyewitness account is missing a few teeth. It's so common, I've wondered if the mobile news vans don't carry around a few folks to interview in case they can't find a by-stander who will be interesting enough on camera.
I am also sitting at my desk weeping over Hyperbole and a Half, thanks for the link! But I have a question about your piece on Katherine Russell. It seemed like you or the people you interviewed felt that she had been a normal person but that what made her no longer normal was that she converted to Islam and started covering her head, which is actually normal (as I understand it) for Muslim women. Whereas what I would imagine made her no longer normal was that after she married she seemed to withdraw from her circles of friends and that ultimately it turned out that her husband was a criminal. I just wanted to say (as a non-muslim) that I don't think it's fair to judge a woman who converts to Islam as abnormal.
I think that you and I have the same opinion. Which is why I went out of my way to quote the Muslim blogger, and bring up questions of "normalcy." Because I think that "Converted to Islam" and "Retreated from family" are two separate issues, which have unfortunately become conflated in other news accounts I had read.
What bothers ME about that meme is that the Keep Calm poster was drawn up for use during WWII but was never used. Somebody found it in a file cabinet somewhere, not all that long ago, and it's being touted as a poster that was seen all over London, which it wasn't. That said, I know an editor whose ID graphic is "Keep Clam and ProofRead"
Wait. Waaaait. It was never used in World War II? Can this be true? This changes everything.
I'm so glad to see you, Cupcake! I've missed you. I really like this Audi commercial. Is it just me or does anyone else find the new Star Trek reboot very compelling? I was really ready to hate the first one. I can't wait to see this new one with Bandersnatch Cumberbund. :)
He and Zachary Quinto look like they were made to star in a movie alongside each other.
Just to clarify my earlier point: my criticism is not toward the people distributing the video of Charles Ramsey, but toward the outlets doing things like actively digging up his domestic abuse records, and the blogs posting shocked, SHOCKED articles about the TRUE secret life of this so-called "hero." (Some of the feminist blogs I read went for this angle, and it felt to me like they were painting a target on this guy's back, all for doing a good deed, and one that in fact seemed like atonement for any past sins at that.) The question is: Why the INTENSE focus on this guy in any context besides his role in this particular drama, far beyond the original video? I find it extremely creepy that the personal lives of the bystanders are now considered as fit for public analysis and condemnation as the lives of the criminals.
Ahhh, gotcha. This makes much more sense.
I got married a few weeks ago (yay!) Currently, my facebook profile is a picture of me and lovely bride together on our happy day. It was very important to her that I set my profile picture so. (I know that makes her sound awful, but She has many many wonderful qualities, including her fantastic cupcake baking ability). However, now that I'm a few weeks on from the wedding Its time to change to something non-wedding, right? I've noticed a trend on facebook for people to use their wedding photos as facebook profile pictures looooooong after the big day, so I guess my question is, how long is too long?
Oh, it's time for you to change it. Not necessarily because there is a specific timeline, but because you're ready to change it, you were ambivalent about doing it to begin with, and you have more than fulfilled whatever spousely duties you were trying to fill by capitulating to this request. I would have said you were good to go after three or four days, frankly.
I am obsessed with finding wonderful new joke variations of Benedict Cumberbatch's name. I don't think I've ever seen the man in anything, but his name delights me on every possible level. This is my favorite, but does anyone else know any other good ones?
Why would you need more than one? Bandersnach Cumberbund is the perfect name.
I am an introvert (by the way, QUIET by Susan Cain is an amazing book, everyone should read it) and part of my worry about the "meme-ization" of individuals who step up in these sitations is that it might dissaude other intrvoerted and/or shy people from doing the same. Charlie Sheen is the very definition of a public figure, by choice. Someone doing the right thing by contacting the police is not a public figure and maybe we should treat them as private people.
Really? I don't buy this. I'm about as introverted as they come, but I cannot possibly imagine any situation in which case I would think, "That person is in trouble and asking for my help, but I'm not going to help them because I'm afraid of ending up on television." I mean, can you?
Of course it's true. But the marketoids will never admit that. The way they insist in catalogs that "every British household" has one of those glug-fish jugs, when hardly any do. Or that every French household has a statue of a rooster in its kitchen. Or that glass pickle Christmas ornament from Germany....I think we need snopes.com to look into these.
As long as we're clear that every Midwesterner really is born knowing how to make cream-based casseroles.
But, Monica, it only works as a self-referential winking nod if the person(s) using it "get it" in an ironic hipster way, and, frankly I don't think the audience that would understand, let alone embrace, the notion of a doubly ironic meme, even using the distorted Alannis Morissette definition (i.e. isn't it ironic that a song about irony misidentifies/misuses the concept in its lyrics).
I think that "Keep Calm and YOLO" is made precisely for the people who would "get it" in the doubly-ironic self-referential way. Because if you -aren't- looking at it on that level, then it's just dumb and un-clever, and you wouldn't buy it to begin with.
I guess my take depends on the way I see the person who is being meme-ified. If that person is obviously out for attention or in the public eye, then I see them as fair game - Angie's leg. On the other hand, er, leg?, if it's someone who is only thrust into the spotlight by a news report or viral video (Ramsey, bullied bus driver lady), then it feels wrong to involuntarily keep them there by perpetuating a meme. Especially if/when it starts becoming mean. That makes me a little sad with society.
I think this is a worthy and logical distinction. For which there are probably exceptions that I currently can't think of.
Alamo Car rentals. Scores of God-fearin', Texas Republic lovin', righteous Americans died there and some company wants to make money off of their still warm bodies? For shame.
Actually, I never thought what a weird name for a car rental "Alamo" is. Not offensive. Just...weird.
I haven't read your Katherine Russell story, but I've saved it to my Pocket App, queuing to be read, along with other long-form articles. Can I get your book onto Pocket too?
I don't know! (I should probably know that).
I'm the chatter on Lisa De Moraes' soon-to-be-ex TV chat who coined "Bandersnatch Cummerbund." I meant it as merely a one-off usage in response to his having been a (rhymes with glassbowl) in comments dismissive of the crunchy-gravel drama "Downton Abbey" (by comparison to his own Sherlock Holmes for the 21st century series) -- because at that point BC wasn't all that famous, so I couldn't recall his correct name, plus at the time I was writing an analysis of a dystopic short story that incorporated elements of "Alice in Wonderland" (from which it was but a short fall down the rabbit-hole to "Shun the frumious bandersnatch...l). I NEVER MEANT for the meme to gain currency, let alone get the Divine Ms. De Moraes into trouble with the Poynter Institute. Heck, I didn't even think of it as a meme. What hath I wrought, and how do I pull it back in?
We have no way of verifying whether or not you speak the truth, but I think we're all willing to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief just for the pleasure of having you on this chat.
We don't really think these memes would "dissaude the next good samaritan from doing the right thing", do we? I don't think anyone who would otherwise be inclined to help a woman who looks to be frantically escaping a building who stop and think "is this going to end up autotuned?"
Don't you mean "Hotdish"?
Not in my parts of the Midwest. Of course, in most cases, "casserole" is implied. "Tuna Noodle," "Chicken a la King," etc. etc.
It's not a weird name. It's brilliant. "What was the name of that car rental company? I can't remember. Wait, 'Remember the Alamo.' That's it, Alamo."
I'll begrudgingly admit that you may have a point.
Quick, can the poster please tell us some of his bride's lovely qualities? Because right now I'm just...aghast that anyone would make someone else do this.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DEPRIVE US OF THIS?
Personally, I think you should have it put on a T-shirt. Keep Calm and Bandersnatch.
I think we've touched on this before, but is a guy who responds to a woman's screams a hero? Seriously? I'm not sure how to define one, but this seems like something people SHOULD do, not something people should get gold stars for. I think it's sad that Mr. Ramsey has had his past dug up and has been meme-ified. The first time I heard him, I thought he was a hoot, but the more and more and more he was interviewed, I wished that he would just decline and go back into his house. Really looking forward to the return of Hyperbole... thanks for the heads up!
Since you and some of the chatters are 100% certain there won't be any chance that someone will hesitate to step in because of HA HA HA look at this STOOPID person videos, then you should go ahead and watch them. I still find there to be a karmic hit to getting my laughs at the expense of people who only did a good thing and are not public figures. Difference of opinion I guess.
I think you're conflating a couple of things. I never said, "these videos are great, and we should all watch lots of them." What I said was, "I can't imagine that someone would let a fear of appearing in a video like this prevent them from being a good samaritan."
Because frankly, if you were that worried about becoming the star in a viral video, then you could still step in and rescue the girl, and then just (gasp) decline to appear on camera or talk to the media. I'm a member of the media. Believe me -- people decline to talk to us all the time.
Again, from Wiki (sorry): "Alamo Rent a Car" is based in Clayton, Missouri. It was given the name "Alamo" not because of its location, but because they wanted its company to be listed first in the telephone book........... So all the upset Texams can go ahead and calm down.
Why didn't they name it Aardvark Rent a Car, then?
My husband was a Good Samaritan when a grisly automobile accident involving four drunk teenagers occurred in front of our house late one night many years ago (one brother died, the other was mangled, while the two friends riding on the right side of the car were comparatively unscathed). The next day the local TV stations all sent news crews with satellite trucks out to do stories on the accident, and one of them wanted to interview my husband when he got home from work, in time for the 6 O'Clock News, re his Good Samaritan actions. Fortunately, my husband had the presence of mind not to take out his dental prosthesis (3 of 4 upper front teeth), as he usually does upon arriving home from work. Also fortunate was that despite being an introvert he speaks articulately and is economical with his words, so he made for a good interview. The camerawoman even shot him in such a way as to minimize his bald spot, so he came across as looking like a handsome hero; I taped his interview on our VCR for family posterity (yeah, that's how long ago it was). I wonder if the difference was that this occurred pre-Internet, but nowadays someone would've tried to make him look like a fool too.
Thanks for sharing. I guess the question is: In this day and age, knowing about Charles Ramsey and/or Antoine Dodson, would your husband still stop to help the teenagers in a car accident?
Wasn't that phrase first used by King George in one of his war time speeches?
You mean by Colin Firth?
OP here. According to one of Lisa's TV chats, apparently someone DID copyright "Bandersnatch Cummerbund" and was selling BC T-shirts. I'm guessing s/he hasn't exactly made a fortune at it, though.
I think the joke is still a little too insidery. Not that this can't be changed. (When does the third season of Sherlock come out?)
Oooh, I have an interesting one: A friend of mine - absolutely charming, smart guy - went on Jeopardy! Didn't win, but performed respectably. Out of curiosity, I searched for his name on Twitter afterward, and he was being SAVAGED. People making fun of his name and saying they wanted to punch him for being an annoying nerd. So the question is: Was he seeking the spotlight in a way that warrants the same kind of public condemnation that a celebrity would get? On one hand, yes, you're going on a game show, but on the other hand, it's not exactly the "I'M NOT HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS" shenanigans of your average reality show. Is it acceptable to make fun of the overexcited screaming lady who guesses right on "The Price is Right"? Not a leading question; I've been pondering over this one for a while.
This makes me sad for your friend. And makes me hope that he didn't Twitter search his own name, the way you did.
I really hope that editor's graphic is "Keep Clam and Proofread" and not "ProofRead." There's no reason for the R to be capitalized.
Um. I think that is the joke.
Because "aardvark" doesn't capture the glamour and excitement of crawling into a rented Chevelle.
I love it the minute I read it when it was introduced over on Ms. De Moraes' chat. I wouldn't take so much pleasure in using it if Benedict "Glassbowl" Cumberbatch didn't hate it so much.
Oh, he does? Didn't anyone ever teach him that nothing will provoke the taunters more than knowing the nickname bothers you?
is that, well, every single person is complicated. He did a great thing - but yeah, just like everyone else, there may be something shady in his background. In our lives, we seem to paint people as one thing or another. People are complicated. They do things 'out of character' all the time (and I put that in quotes because - well, we think we know people's characters after knowing one or maybe two tiny facts about them).
You need another choice: mocking him in a way that relies on glorifying him.
As in, "We're pretending this is about glorifying him, but really we're making fun of him?" You're right.
What really disgusts me is the rapid response of the PR arm of a certain fast-food behemoth that shall not be named, trying to figure out how to leverage that Ramsey was allegedly eating one of the products at the time of the 911 phone call. Compare that with the admirable PR restraint of Dunkin' Donuts in Boston who refrained from putting out any messages for a few days, other than an appropriate one of sorrow -- and who, BTW, stayed open at police request and supplied freebies to the police searchers during the week of the Marathon bombing.
What's that? A major chain is trying to capitalize on something in order to sell more fast food meals? I've never heard of such a thing.
That is why I said it might disqualify me from commenting but I just don't want to watch it and then say "that was not proper." I have seen previous ones (bedroom intruder for example) and felt unclean after watching them. So you may be exactly right, I'm missing out on something that glorifies the choice Mr. Ramsey made, but I figure it is quite unlikely that is the case. Am I wrong?
I didn't say you were missing out on something that glorifies Ramsey -- and I wasn't trying to be accusatory, either. I was genuinely curious about how you make decisions about something without watching it. Because I think that would be a useful skill, and it's one I don't have. (Every word I type sounds snarky, but I'm really not being fecetious. For example: I have a hard time saying, "I don't like that TV show" unless I've seen, oh, a full season or more. So if there are trusted shortcuts to take, I'd like to know them. You explaining that you were relying on past feelings, i.e. bedroom intruder, was helpful).
was clearly shocked - just like any of us would be - and people are sticking cameras and microphones in his face, and he's trying to make sense of it all. I don't like the memes, they're eh. not really something that should be done, but i don't think they're mocking him.
I searched his name, picked out the nice ones "[Friend's Name] on Jeopardy! tonight is a BADASS," and posted them to his Facebook Wall. He and friends were delighted... until his little siblings went looking for the REST and ended up in a Twitter flame war with total strangers. (hangs head in shame)
Oh, you tried.
Of course he'd still help. But he might think twice re allowing himself to be interviewed re it on TV the next day.
Thank you. This was my gut hope -- that we'd all still help, but maybe we wouldn't agree to interviews afterward.
I saw an article in a British newspaper online (can't recall when. where) in which Benedict Cumberbatch complained about the burdens of being an actor from a privileged background, because he gets stereotyped. Oh, poor baby...
In his defense, he probably -is- stereotyped.
They're not, but they're all taught to make them early in their formative years.
I knew when I saw the interview that it would be the next Antoine Dodson meme, but I still think there is more to it. Something about the combination of his heroic actions (yes, his background is complicated -- but here is a guy who took action when it mattered -- and when he thought it was a domestic violence incident, in which many people avoid intervening because they think it's none of their business), his talent for storytelling (content, timing, emphasis), his sharp wit, his touching humanity (see the Anderson Cooper interview), and his blunt honesty -- I think all of it together makes him more than a mere punchline.
Just posting a few more.
C B: he may enjoy the spotlight, but is sure feels like he is being mocked
I don't think the memes in the link provided are that funny, though I think the people who created them meant them to be funny. So, that's B ... and for question #2, I'll go with C. Cheap memes rely on stereotypes.
With Bandersnatch written on them? Or would a little bit too suggestive?
Too obvious. Keep thinking, though. We're going to be on to something.
And now I'm 15 minutes ovetime and have to dash.
There is nothing forseeable that would prevent me from being here next week, so let's plan on seeing each other next Thursday at 2, hmm?
Twitter: @monicahesse Email: firstname.lastname@example.org