Memes have an integral part of global culture. Baby Yoda may stand only a few inches tall, communicating with high-pitched squeaks and mischievous gestures, but the adorable green creature has loomed large online, causing a global social media meltdown.
The cute, wide-eyed tyke, unveiled three weeks ago in the premiere of Disney’s live-action Star Wars series “The Mandalorian”, has stolen both the show and millions of hearts.
— AFP news agency (@AFP) December 4, 2019
One parody account, @BabyYodaBaby, has amassed more than 120,000 followers with paraphrased Yoda quotes such as, “Fear leads to hate. Hate leads to anger. Cuteness leads to snuggling.”
Countless screengrabs, short video clips and other memes of the tiny creature nonchalantly sipping from a cup, fiddling with spaceship control switches and generally causing a nuisance have gone viral.
News stories mentioning Baby Yoda had 2.28 million interactions on Facebook and Twitter in the first two weeks of the show alone, according to NewsWhip data cited by the website Axios.
While most memes contain some degree of surreality, they frequently address real-life situations
Hollywood celebrities are getting in on the action too.
Action star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson posted an image of himself cradling the newborn creature to his 160 million followers, while A-listers such as Jennifer Lopez have been singing the character’s praises to reporters on Los Angeles’s red carpets.
Social, Cultural, and Political Impact
Memes help people connect and feel like they belong, can serve as conversation starters and can even help them smooth over a conflict or make a point.
Read more: BJP website hacked, meme on PM Modi posted
While most memes contain some degree of surreality, they frequently address real-life situations.
Relationship problems, parent-child conflicts, and poverty are popular meme themes. There are also memes that describe the stress of high school and academia, as well as memes about workplace exhaustion. Meme culture also takes on anxieties about the state of the world. They give people an easy way to talk about shocking events.
Memes can be an effective coping tool. They give us a way to express difficult thoughts. There is a community element as sharing memes can give people the sense that they’re not alone in their struggles.
Additionally, memes cause an emotional reaction, especially when they employ shock humor. This is part of why they are particularly attractive to hate groups
At the same time, there might be a downside to this use of memes. Becoming indifferent to these problems is a possibility. In some cases, memes replace meaningful conversations that could lead to a solution.
Despite the cultural influence of people of color on meme culture, racist memes are still widespread. Sexist and homophobic memes are shared mercilessly. However, the remix-heavy nature of these meme lets people challenge this on their own terms.
For example, women and teenage girls of color are frequently mocked via memes. But many of these women participate in meme culture, so they create memes that take on these stereotypes and challenge them. These statements can bond and act as rallying points for positivity, and positive memes are a trend only getting more popular over time.
.@offbeatorbit was already working on this piece when Harris announced she was dropping out today, examining how meme culture, and the way she did or didn't address the sentiment at the heart of the meme, may have affected her campaign https://t.co/5tYpFf4N0p
— J. Escobedo Shepherd (@jawnita) December 3, 2019
Experts say that the simplicity of memes makes them an effective way of spreading political ideas. This is true for various ideologies and groups all across the political spectrum. Memes can be used to provide simple answers to complicated questions, ones that are more likely to be seen positively.
Additionally, memes cause an emotional reaction, especially when they employ shock humor. This is part of why they are particularly attractive to hate groups. Memes are frequently used to spread violent messages. Once again, the memes may be framed as ironic, but the damage they cause is real.