Gina Rinehart – Meme Mining
One of my favourite parts of online culture is the spread of memes.
Memes are a simple, creative and often hilarious way of making a point, subverting a culture, challenging hypocrisy or to simply have a good laugh.
Memes have also become a surprise source of political commentary and social change. Whenever a public figure makes a big statement you can almost instantly go online and find a series of memes co-opted from their words.
When it was reported that Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart made calls for the minimum wage in Australia to be lowered and criticised the country’s poor, Australians leapt at the opportunity to respond. A variety of memes emerged responding to Rinehart’s comments:
Many of the memes provided an important outlet for Australians to respond to Rinehart’s statements. The role of humour and satire cannot be underestimated in terms of social impact. The memes have contributed to some important social, cultural and political discussions.
However, the spread of the meme has also raised some serious issues about how these online cultures can provide a platform for attacks of another kind:
After seeing a string of images posted online criticising Rinehart on the basis of her appearance or gender I tweeted the following:
I love the Gina Rinehart memes calling her out on her bullshit, I do not however like the ones focusing purely on her gender or weight.
There is a big difference between criticising someone for their actions, their words or their values and criticising someone for their gender or appearance. There is an inherent viciousness and hypocrisy in Rinehart’s recent statements towards the less fortunate in our community that is worthy of ridicule. Many of the memes that have spread relating to Rinehart have been a vital way of helping the community process and respond to her statements. The community rejection of her values has been important, but the community is also served a great disservice by those who criticise Rinehart purely because of her weight or gender.
Just because Gina Rinehart is unpopular in the public eye, does not make it okay to stoop to this level. It’s cheap, it’s nasty and it lessens the impact of those making valid statements against her values. It helps to perpetuate the kind of stereotypes and misogyny we wouldn’t take being targeted at our loved ones so we shouldn’t accept this behaviour being targeted at our public figures, regardless of how unpopular they might be at the time.
We can do better as a community.
Satirise, argue and joke with Gina Rinehart all you like for her ridiculous views, values and words. It’s actually really important that you do, but before you make a cheap fat joke or a gendered attack on Rinehart think about the negative culture you’re contributing to.
– Jonathan Brown
Jonathan is the Creative Director of We Matter Media. You can follow him @JB_AU
Really terrific post. I too love memes and their ability to deconstruct or unpack current trends or institutions, and through humour no less! However the ones that focus on looks/body size (or even worse the comparison of two women or “extremes”) drive me absolutely batty. They’re just so lazy. I’ve written about my distaste for these a few times – and I’m sure I’ll do it again.
I look forward to checking out more of your blog.
I agreed with your point about the “distracting qualities” of making personal attacks. Nice.
Reblogged this on Now That's Merican!! and commented:
Average Mericans Don’t Want To Hear From This Woman…Get Her Outta Here!!
Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy this blog, and as such have nominated it for the “One Lovely Blog Award”: http://mandaray.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/one-lovely-blog-award/. Thank you!
Her weight is quite relevant because it exposes her hypocrisy. She accused poor people of being lazy. Well, she appears to be morbidly obese. A person does not get to be that weight, even where their body type is predisposed to storing fat, without living a lifestyle that involves minimal physical activity and poor dietary habits.
Although I suppose you could say her obesity isn’t a function of ‘laziness’ because it’s just a function of some inner psychological turmoil, mental illness or perhaps she’s on some medication that causes weight gain; however, there are lots of people with inner psychological turmoil, mental illness, etc. who are able to maintain a healthy weight. Laziness, dare I say it, has to be at least part of the–if not the whole–explanation. The pot calling the kettle black may not speak to the veracity of her views, but you’ll have to excuse people if they viscerally react to her aristocratic condescension.
Great post! I totally agree with you! Why some stoop to ridicule is beyond me. Contgrats on being Freshly Pressed!
that is right on. you have nailed it on the head. they are great for a laugh and a smile and parody [thinking Clint Eastwood and chair of recent times] but also for solid political/social/spiritual comment and calling people on stuff, but when you move away from the issue and go for gender/weight/race etc you show yourself up for who you are and lose the actual point you could be making and so waste the effort and energy… really well written and captured.
altho then of course you get those of us who use it to be just plain silly… http://9gag.com/gag/5214402
Spot on assessment! We at OAM agree that cheap shots devalue honest discourse.
My favourite Meme is Futurama Fry: Don’t know if yard sale or just red neck lawn.
I see what you mean about mocking her about her appearance. It is low to abuse someone about their appearance and it takes brains to make up an intelligent meme.
But, we are on the internet, which still has free speech and for some people, this is the only way they can express themselves.
I find either way hilarious 😉
Brilliant! You brought clarity to the madness of memes! I love them, but you are right. Once you cross a line, they cease to be funny or provocative and get just plain nasty.
Thanks for making a stand and highlighting how pure viciousness, name-calling, pettiness and cruelty have no place in any decent society. It’s something I’ve noticed for some time now but never had the words to express or explain. You’ve done a great job doing so, and deserve to be Freshly Pressed!
Reblogged this on Something to Ponder About.
great great post. i love memes too but i definitely agree – they can be just a tasteless childish ad hominem attack, which totally defeats their purpose!
thanks for sharing!
It’s a sad thing the very people try to help will also have those among them that would set progress back several notches. I think the cruel meme images come from when we were all still in middle school, the best way to make people shut up was to call on something of their person. Why should we listen to you, you’re fat or you’re stupid or you have big ears. Some trivial part of the person’s whole and making that small part all they are, as a means to degrade them and make them feel as small as their flaws. Though if I may say if she does have all that money she should have paid someone to teach her how to use that mouth tactfully. It’s her own lapse in common sense that brought her this trouble.
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Thank you for verbalising my frustration with most of the internet’s attempts at humour. Less of Frankie Boyle’s level of “comedy”, and more of the intelligent wit of the likes of The Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise, or PG Wodehouse (isn’t it sad that all of my favourite comedians were in their prime long before I was born?)
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