Analysis of a Meme

To keep to my topic I wrote my research paper around, I chose to analyze a K-Pop meme. Upon first glance to anyone who doesn’t understand the context of the picture, it may raise some questions. Why is it being used as a meme? Why is there a presumably 10-year-old Chinese boy posing next to a gun that size? Why is he happy to be standing next to it?

I’ll break down the photo from the obvious parts. From the locations, the size of the gun, the casual attire, and the earmuffs on his ears, you can decipher that he’s out at a shooting range of some sorts. The lighting indicates that it’s during the day and the coloring of the photo shows that it’s quite modern and probably taken within the last 10 years (also the gun shows the modernity of the picture). The framing of the picture and where he is located in the forefront with the gun by his side just shows that he’s posing for a picture, probably being taken by one of his parents. The gun could be seen as threatening, especially when depicted at the hands of a small child.

The cultural part of it is what might get to most people that are seeing it for the first time without any context. Had I not known who it was, I would be almost shocked to see a small child next to a large gun and not find it amusing. As American’s, our traditions and views of guns can be and are significantly different from other countries views of said guns. Especially guns of that size. Upon seeing a small Asian child with a gun of that size, it may raise some questions: is it normal for children of that size in Asian countries to be around guns of that size? But this is an ignorant question considering children in America are also exposed to guns at such a young age.

The person depicted in this picture is none other than Zhong Chenle, a member of popular K-Pop group, NCT Dream. Born in Shanghai, China, Chenle started singing when he was very young. He was born to a wealthy family and grew up comfortably. He debuted in NCT Dream at the ripe age of 14 (almost 15) years old. Knowing his background and knowing who he is makes this picture make sense and also insanely hilarious to any fan of the group or performer. Since he comes from wealth, it makes sense that he’d be able to afford going to a shooting range and (based on generalizations), wealthy people are typically desensitized to guns. There is a series of pictures similar to this one with him holding other guns, so his parents putting him in front of these guns makes almost perfect sense.

This meme depends on the audience severely, as does most memes. Being a fan of the group makes it seem a lot funnier and makes a lot more sense as to why someone may find it funny. Pre-debut pictures are typically funny in K-Pop fandoms and Chenle’s are no exception. Memes of people always are seen as hilariously funny and when the person behind depicted is someone you idolize, a picture like this may be one of the funniest things in the world. The ominous side to it and that there was frankly no reason for him to be behind such a large gun (besides assumptions of his family background that can be made) when this picture surfaced on the Internet, make it even funnier to the viewer. The tone and feeling the odd picture emits makes for good conversation between fans and the boy, and good memes to arise online.

Toxic Fandom Culture and Practices

Fandoms are often found online, specifically on social media platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr, and have very large followings. A fandom can be found for almost anything that can have a fan; movies, TV shows, musician(s), books, even sports. It’s common to find issues within these fandoms, however, due to the people in them.

Korean pop (commonly referred to as K-Pop) has a large amount of issues surrounding toxic behavior within their fandoms. It affects the lives on fans and idols alike, causing for their to be constant drama within. ‘Cancel culture’ is prominent within K-Pop fandoms and can prove to be difficult for many. Idols have to follow specific guidelines to stay more appealing for fans and if they are caught by being “problematic”, they could risk their entire career. There are people who make it their goal to hurt someone’s career so that they can get what they want.

Brittney Tinaliga wrote her dissertation on K-Pop fandom practices and was able to break their actions into 3 different categories: inter-fandom competitiveness, fandom-fandom competitiveness, and fandom-outer competitiveness. Two of them deem more positively whereas one of them is where you would typically find the toxicity issues; fandom-fandom competitiveness. This is where you’ll find fans attacking other fans (BTS fans tend to get in fights with every K-Pop fandom on the daily, it seems) and are more commonly found online.

These practices fall into the narrative that make all K-Pop stans seem like their crazy, which is obviously not true. Saesangs is the name given to fans who excessively stalk or commit illegal actions against an idols safety. Since society tends to magnify negative aspects of people, these people are typically mentioned more often and create images for the fandoms even though the entirety of the fandom doesn’t share the same beliefs as them.

Image result for bts blacklist
BTS’s management, BigHit entertainment creates ‘blacklist’ of saesang

There are ways, however, that these negative and toxic beliefs can be worked out. In the picture above, that is a list of people that boy-group BTS’s management created and ‘blacklisted’ certain fans from interacting with the members. These people are threats to the boys (if you read the list, you see that most were caught following and bombarding them at airports) and are nuisances to the group. BigHit used their power by directly calling out these people who have created issues for the group and fans alike, showing one way that these toxic issues can be handled – from the sources themselves. Another way would be from people within the fandom to not interact with the annoying fans or to contact them in the most civil manner and explain to them that what they are doing can be deemed as harmful.

Fandom toxicity issues are problems that will always arise wherever you may look. They’re hard to combat and will continue to be hard to eradicate, but hopefully as time progresses, people will become more aware of these negative people and will learn to stay away or teach them how to better themselves.

Follow up: Topic is Now ‘Stan Culture and its Effect on Society’

I have to find more sources but I have a broader search now that will help me find available resources at the library. I don’t have a complete thesis yet but I know the topics I will be addressing in the paper (what fandoms and “stanning” are, specific fandoms who have become toxic, how a fandom can become an extremely bad place, how media can influence this behavior, etc.).

Proposal

I want to do my research on the effects that stan culture (fandoms) on the internet have on teenagers and adolescents but I’ve already searched some databases and can’t find solid enough evidence to help support it so if anyone has suggestions,,,

Fermi Paradox

Hubble Deep Field

The Fermi Paradox is a theory questioning life outside of our Earth. As we all know, the universe is a big, never ending void. There’s constellations upon constellations, galaxies upon galaxies. With its giant size, it voids the question of: are we really alone in this giant equation?

The Fermi Paradox, named after physicist Enrico Fermi, is the theory questioning are we the only intelligent life forms in our giant universe? Taking “scale and probability” into consideration, logically, there’s no reason there aren’t other intelligent life forms out there. But when we are faced with the lack of evidence to prove this to be true, we are stuck with the Fermi Paradox.

There are the few who full heartedly believe there are alien life forms and who dedicated their lives to theorizing and research to simply gain proof of these bad boys being real. But one thing that’s brought up in the paradox is that the lack of proof is astounding. By now, we would presumably have found something that has been related to other life forms such as colonization or old tools they had used, but we have no evidence of this. 

There are 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way alone which can only lead you to believe that there are other life forms amongst the stars and constellations. It can be left up to someone to “believe” in alien life forms but the Fermi Paradox and Drake equation are just pieces of statistical science that are trying to use proven facts and math to prove the likelihood of other forms of life in our galaxy. So in reality, believing in aliens is one thing, but having evidence to prove that aliens are real is a completely different thing.

“Are aliens real” is much the same as “are ghosts real” except one of them you can actually use science and evidence to back up and one is up to hear-say. But they both fall under the branch of “if there’s actual proof, then I can say it’s real”. For example, the proof that alien obsessed people use is the Egyptian Pyramids and how it was almost humanly impossible to build those all alone with the technology of that time period. There are hieroglyphics on walls in Egypt that could outline possible other life forms assisting the Egyptians on the pyramids but in all, wall art isn’t the strongest form of evidence and there were no artifacts dug up to help prove this to be true (also, they were using slaves so they obviously were treating them inhumanly to do these very hard tasks that an average person wouldn’t want to do). 

Overall, the Paradox just helped to raise questions but didn’t do much to prove. But, it was putting aliens into science and giving us an upper hand in finding an answer to the looming question of “are we alone?” and has given us an outlet to maybe look for more evidence of intelligent life forms so that we can put our questions to rest.

To Meme or Not to Meme – Analysis

By Maya Walker

Thesis: “The root of this unrecognized internal turmoil was an acclimation to suicidal tendencies, one of the core values in today’s memes. That’s right: internet memes played a role in my depressive spiral.” 

  • This is at the end of the first paragraph
  • This is in this positioning because after giving a little emotion and insight into her own life in the introduction, this was an attention grabber to pull the audience in to read the rest of the essay with interest in the topic

Target audience: teens her age (Gen z) or people concerned about teens mental health today 

  • She uses lots of examples from health departments in the US and UK and professionals in the mental health field which could garner towards more of an adult audience
  • But, she also uses actual images and memes as her examples so she uses it as her way to target people who have knowledge of the large expanse of meme culture online which is targeted more towards our generation.

Logos: As mentioned, she uses various examples from professionals and health services in multiple countries who have spoke on behalf of her topic.

  • She cites reddit pages dedicated to wholesome memes, and screenshots of meme accounts/memes from various social media platforms
  • She also used quotes by trained professionals and statements made by the UK parliament and the US Department of Health & Human Services

Ethos: The tone of her essay is very serious due to the topic mentioned in it.

  • She uses words such as depression, mental health, and suicide as ways of really serving the serious tone of the essay
  • “The internet should not be one’s sole source of emotional support, and the idea that it even could be is wildly ludicrous and incredibly dangerous for suffering teenagers.” This quote uses words that make the audience understand how strongly she feels about the possible effects mental health jokes may have on struggling youth.

Pathos: She uses memes as examples to make it relevant.

  • The picture examples throughout the essay can be used as relevant because lots of teens and internet users may recognize them
  • “For some, it can be liberating to see other people online going through the same struggles that they have felt, and to know that they are not alone.” This quote is countering her argument a bit but is an example of how maybe someone a part of the audience may read her essay and think that the memes are helpful for them and their struggle, knowing that someone else feels the same way as them

What I Seem to be Interested in

There’s something about me that I didn’t pick up on until recently: I really like foreign artforms. Ever since I was young, I’ve liked things that were non-American. I, as many others, went through a One Direction phase throughout my adolescents. As I got older, I grew out of the phase and moved onto better things: a Norwegian web-series/show and my current endeavor is K-pop, the thing I least expected myself to like. Thankfully, though, my “obsession” for other cultures led to me meeting my best friend, Camila. I have always had an an eye for different cultural preferences, and it shows by the things I find interesting and dedicate time to understanding.

I liked One Direction for many years and even saw them in concert when they toured here. I specifically remember always having an interest in other countries and having a “favorite” country. For example, for most of my time in elementary school, I was obsessed with China. I don’t know what exactly got me into loving China so much, but I remember talking about it often and how I desperately wanted to visit there. It was encouraged by my dad and him talking about his friend from China and the various stories his friend had to share. He would also get me currency from China and other countries which always put a smile on my face and added to my appreciation of other cultures. Then I shortly thereafter moved into my One Direction phase and suddenly wanted to go to England. Who would’ve thought?

Although I look at my One Direction phase with a feeling of shame, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t know some of my best friends today. 1D led to me discovering the multitude of the internet and all that it offers for fandoms. I had a fan account for them and although I made that account near the end of me being a super fan of the group, I still use that account today for my new interests of the month. I eventually discovered a small Norwegian show called Skam that was mainly web based and with the discovery of that show, I met who I consider my best friend, Cami. So, in a way, I thank One Direction and my annoying 15-year-old self for creating that account.

Cami lives in Argentina and due to my odd obsession over things placed outside of the USA, I was able to meet people from around the world. It’s still so fascinating to me that even though she lives 5,000 miles away from me, we were able to meet and become extremely close and are still close after two years. The way we met was through a tweet of mine about the “karaoke scene” in Skam and how I hoped they’d sing a Queen song. She responded to it which led to a series of tweets of ours and following each other on our respective accounts. I soon messaged her and, as I like to say, a lifelong friendship was born. She was my first ever internet friend and if it weren’t for our immediate connection, I don’t know if I would’ve ever had the confidence to meet my other friends on Twitter (one of which I met this year in person) and keep an online presence. She’s one of my favorite people in the world and we both hope to one day meet each other in person so that we can cry over our favorite K-pop boys and other interests in person.

I love traveling, but I don’t do it far enough. The farthest I’ve been outside of the country was to Canada and I hardly remember that trip because I have a memory that lasts up to about a year of important information and events (I retain very pointless memories) so in a way, I grasp onto these other cultures as my way of being able to experience them firsthand. As mentioned before, I am currently in a K-pop phase which I never really saw myself going through, but based on my history, it makes a lot of sense. It was actually Cami who influenced my decision of getting into the music because I never had a particular liking for the genre. The industry surrounding the style of music tends to be very problematic but it’s also very easy to fall into their trap with their amazing dancing and catchy songs. Oddly enough, not following my previous patterns, I don’t really have a desire to visit South Korea because I would very much so like to travel all of Europe first. I also don’t speak their language, so it would be very hard to visit without feeling disrespectful to their culture.

After sitting down and thinking about this topic, I’ve concluded I enjoy learning new things about other places in the world. I’ve always seemed to find interests in other cultures besides mine for most of my life and due to my curiosity, I’ve met some of my closest friends through these interests. I hope to travel and actually be able to experience these cultures firsthand one day instead of living through screens and other people’s experiences.

About Me !!

Hello all, I’m Erin McGay from Newark, Delaware! I grew up only 10 minutes away from UD and attended a high school directly next to the UD Courtyard apartments. I played field hockey all 4 years and have swam for 13 years (summer swim and 4 years of high school swim). I love cats, I have 2 cats (and if there was a famine I would NOT eat my cats, I’d rather die for them) Sammie and Trixie. I’m a Communication Interest here and I love TV and movies!

Thanks for reading!