Another Day in Internet Paradise, or “I’m Only Joking”
by tcicconi on September 11, 2015 - 9:33am
The article that I will be focusing on is entitled “When His Beautiful Wedding Photos Were Used for a Racist Meme, This Man Fought Back” by Margarita Noriega on June 2nd, 2015 for Vox. The article mainly focuses on the internet's unfortunate ability to transform beautiful and personal moments into offensive, racist slurs, and how one man sets the record straight. On September 13th 2014, Adam and Tisa Harris were officially pronounced as a newly-wed couple. Eleven days later, Adam uploaded his wedding photos on his personal Tumblr blog. These photos demonstrate a teary-eyed Adam, as he witnesses his soul-mate walking to the isle. However, the photo-set began to be trivialized once an Instagram user named @DerrickJaxn, created a meme out of the pictures with a caption demonstrating a man's emotion when he finds a loyal woman. However, it didn’t stop there. One specific Twitter user, named @MeministTweet, published these photos, with a heading stating that Adam is crying because the amount of 'side hoes' he had to give up in order for his marriage to occur. Other users claimed that the flower on Adam’s suit was a banana peel. These tweets, specifically @MeministTweet’s, was immediately met with criticism, with users calling these users out for stereotyping African-Americans. After seeing these tweets, Adam decided to share his own thoughts on the matter, and responded directly to @MeministTweet, criticizing the latter’s racist memes, while also publishing a long letter on his Tumblr, stating that he only wants to protect his family, to not let a special moment be ruined into a racist joke, and how all men in general have to do better.
It isn’t too uncommon for many people to open their Facebook page and see a variety of ‘memes’, or jokes on their newsfeed. Indeed, since its usage exploded at the beginning of the 21st century, the internet has become a tool with a variety usages, with work and leisure being its primary mode of employment. However, something that I’ve noticed recently is that many people have begun making jokes on very sensitive topics- I recall sometime last year a couple of friends of mine were laughing at 9/11 memes- and justified their reaction by stating “It’s okay to laugh at this, because we're only joking”. This again goes back to the arguments that surrounded the 'Charlie Hebdo' events a couple of months ago- how far can a sensitive joke be tolerated, or should it be tolerated at all? I personally think that jokes related to sensitive topics can be great, as long as it is taken in moderation. However, there are certain lines that one cannot cross if they decide to create comedic situations out sensitive subject matters. Certain comedians, such as Russell Peters, makes jokes based on stereotypes, but the subject matter and its delivery are what make them “tongue and cheek”. I state the latter in apostrophes because this type of humor isn’t harmless; it still creates a sentiment that people belonging to a certain race behave in a certain manner, to which people can think of as fact. Nonetheless, there are always the people who take these situations or characteristics and turn them into jokes of bad taste. This is why it isn’t surprising to find people creating memes in hopes of getting some type of recognition for their humor on the internet, but instead making a racial slur and falling flat on their faces. Here we see very familiar stereotypes; black people are dishonest incapable of keeping a monogamous relationship (or sad that they are leaving that lifestyle behind), and of course the classic about black people being more ‘animal-like’ or ‘less educated than the white folk’ by stating that Adam Harris is wearing a banana on his lapel. The concept of course that black people are somehow less intelligent or have a genetic incapability of being loyal in a relationship because of their color is silly, just like the concept of race. As Darren Curnoe states in his article ‘Human Race: Biological Reality or Cultural Delusion’ (2014), “humans are genetically much less diverse than most mammals” (p.38). Therefore, if people behave in a certain matter, the color of their skin has nothing to do with it; it is more the reflection on the individual’s personality and thought process. Race has and will forever be an “artificial construct based on superficial similarities” (Curnoe, p.37). Unfortunately, this concept is still relatively unknown to many people- the idea that people that belong to a supposed race behave in a certain matter is something that is still part of this generation’s daily discourse- I have heard lots and lots of people (and myself, admittedly) begin a sentence with the words “I’m not a racist or anything, but…”. This means that situations like Adam and Tina Harris’ will unfortunately keep on occurring in the near future.
Noriega, M. (2015, June 2nd). When his beautiful wedding photos were used for a racist meme, this man fought back. Vox. Retrieved from http://www.vox.com/2015/6/2/8708085/fighting-against-racist-memes
Curnoe, D. (2014, October). Human races: Biological reality or cultural delusion? Australasian Science, 35, 36-38. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.champlaincollege.qc.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.c...