2013 welfare shaming memes Mccutcheon 2014 or the meme that featured a woman

2013 welfare shaming memes mccutcheon 2014 or the

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2013); welfare-shaming memes (Mccutcheon, 2014); or the meme that featured a woman who took a photo of herself crying after a bad haircut, only to discover that she had been turned into an anti- Obamacare joke (Broderick, 2014). Even when a selfie is remade into a meme for ostensibly good reasons, questions about agency abound. This was the case of the parents of a child with Down syndrome who was alerted that their family photo had been remade into a series of t reacly “inspiration” memes (Evelyn, 2014). In these moments, the selfie performs a special of political work, demonstrating three contesting versions of reality at play: the version originally imagined by photographers; the version potentially imagined by anyone using the Internet; and the version where questions of ethics reside. Christine Bacareza Balance argues that viral memes depend not just on an object’s circulation through networks but on creators who “craft emotional hooks, key signifiers that to uch upon a shared set of affective investments and affiliations” (2012, p. 143). In the United States, perhaps no campaign has made this case more strongly than the Tumblr, “If They Gunned Me Down, Which Picture Would They Use?” (IfTheyGunnedMeDown, 2014c) . The site, which erupted in response to nationally significant race- related police brutality cases in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, encourages non-White users to juxtapose two contrasting images of themselves. In one entry, a user writes, “They wouldn’t show the smiling girl who graduated abroad at one of the best schools in the country. The media would portray me as a hard and mean- looking girl who was asking for it” (2014b, para. 2). In another, a man writes, “I am tired of being put in a box. I am not a rapist. I am not a thief. I am not ‘entitled.’ I am not a criminal. More importantly, I am not an animal” (2014a, para. 3). Toward Better Understanding As the bravery of those who participate in “If They Gunned Me Down” makes achingly clear, if we hope to have any serious understanding of what the selfie says, to whom, and why, cultural literacy is not just a nice idea; it’s an ethical prerequisite. This is why Elizabeth Losh argues that, rather than more raw data, projects like Selfiecity would be well served by “selfie research groups [that] include specialists in anthropology, sociology, history, visual culture, rhetoric, political science, gender and sexuality studies, and many other fields.” This special section is one step toward such serious understandings. Another is the emerging Selfie Researchers Network, which aims to create an international forum for exactly this sort of work. The group’s Face book page (Selfies Research Network, 2013) currently has more than 2,000 members from more than 40 countries, Group contributors have translated the website’s welcome page into more than 15 languages (Selfies Research Network, 2014). Members have organized academic panels on selfie culture at international conferences such as the Association of Internet Researchers in Daegu, Korea; South By Southwest in Austin, Texas; and Consoling Passions in Dublin, Ireland. Members have organized
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