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Tiger King and Meme Culture

by Dana Andersen. Published Mon 13 Apr 2020 17:10

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Since the release of the Netflix Documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, the memes have gone wild. From exactly how Carole Baskin fed her husband to tigers, to why Joe Exotic managed to get two young, attractive husbands while some of us can’t even get a text back, and some darker memes we don’t need to get into here, any part of the documentary you can remember has probably been made into a meme somewhere.

It’s not the first time a real person has become a widespread meme, meme culture practically started with the likes of Scumbag Steve, and Angry German Kid, but how often do we see the after effects of becoming a meme? Scumbag Steve, real name Blake Boston, is now a father of two, and easy to find on Twitter.

The story of Angry German Kid is different though. After the video, intended to be a satirical comedy sketch, of him smashing his keyboard in a rage waiting for his favourite video game to load, went viral, he experienced years of torment. He was laughed at, had to move and change the way he looked, and though he is luckily doing well now, he was even at one point arrested after threatening a school shooting.

But you have to go looking to find any of that out. For the cast of Tiger King, their experience of becoming memes is public, and they’re able to speak out. Finlay has been able to confirm that his ‘terrible’ cover up tattoo was actually not finished when it was shown in the documentary. He also pointed out that he was portrayed as being on many drugs when he had, at that time, been clean for several years, and has continued to be.

None of them seem particularly upset by the memes, perhaps more so thinking that they were portrayed that way by the documentary creators.

As quickly as the memes originally appeared for Tiger King, they’ve not been so quick to stop when given further information. What matters for a meme, is that its funny. It doesn’t need to be accurate or up-to-date. The problems the people involved in these memes could experience following them is not considered, their feelings and mental well being are also left to the wayside.

The hashtag be kind people aren’t so quick to jump to the defence of an implied drug user living at a tiger zoo in Oklahoma, apparently. Especially considering how funny all the Tiger King memes can be.

The main thing we can infer from this, is that meme culture is all about getting content out while its new. The less the internet user expects to see the meme, the more likely they are to find it funny. It also, usually, needs to be the most obvious thing. Its funnier to see Finlay’s cover up, and laugh at half of the original tattoo still being visible, than it is to assume its just the first session and not yet complete.

Meme’s also aren’t content to be edited, amended, or accurate. Context, intent and implication can all be ignored in the name of comedy, and as much as deconstructing comedy in that way detracts from the over all laugh factor, it doesn’t detract from the fact that Tiger King memes are funny.

They may not be accurate, or kind, and sometimes they’re straight up horrifying if you think too much through laughing, but they are funny memes, and so long as the cast involved seem to be more or less okay with them, may they have a long and widespread reign across the internet.


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