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. 

 

 

Works Cited

 

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...

 

Comments

To start with, I have decided to respond to this article summary because the title immediately caught my eye. I was interested to finally see an article pointing out racism on the internet. Moreover, although there is not a lot of reference to the author throughout the summary, the post states the main idea with rich vocabulary and in a straightforward way. My opinion regarding this post is similar to the author’s. The fact that African-Americans are being made fun of, for something as serious as their wedding pictures, demonstrates that racism is still very present on the internet, and expressed in a wide variety of ways, such as comedic situations. I agree with the post’ statement that there are certain limits that should be respected in the regard of jokes on sensitive topics, especially race stereotypes, in this case. Humour should not be a way to carry on and keep these types of stereotypes alive. Personally, everyday, on social media, I scroll by tons of posts enhancing race stereotypes. For instance, only this morning did I notice a ‘meme’ about black and white people: on a picture where 5 white girls dressed up for prom stood up in front of their dark-skin companions, it was written : ‘the result of putting a Starbucks next to a basketball court’. Even if this could be considered as lighter humour, it still is a form of stereotypical judgement. Race is not objective at all, and people should stop encouraging jokes that support racist ideas, to demonstrate that our mentalities have actually improved since the times of segregation.

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they're telling bolder and heavier lies