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  • MEMES, Part 10: Makmende
    We know that there have been meme wars in America, and that Donald Trump has been called the “first president meme’d into office.” But in Kenya—a country where one of the only feasible forms of political expression is memes, and meme creators are being jailed for criticizing the government, it is a very different story. Western media told countless stories about the viral music video character known as “Makmende.” They called Makmende “The Kenyan Chuck Norris,” or a sound-alike of the famous Norris line, “Make my day.” But, according to the artists who brought Makmende into being, none of these characterizations are accurate. We explore American myopia, the peril of memes and artistic expression in Kenya, and how we should think of memes as a powerful form of communication.
    12/2/2021
    36:02
  • MEMES, Bonus: The yearbook photo
    For being the internet's poster boy for bad luck, Kyle Craven thinks he sure got lucky. In this bonus episode of our meme series, Ben and Amory chat with Craven, better known as the face of the Bad Luck Brian meme that has circulated the web since 2012. Now a 31-year-old husband and father of two, Craven is frozen in time online as a pimply, brace-faced teenager. Despite the unflattering photo, he says meme stardom has brought nothing but good luck.
    11/24/2021
    24:50
  • MEMES, Part 9: I'm Not Done Yet
    Anybody old enough to remember life before cutting the cord has probably seen the work of TV pitchman Billy Mays. But people much younger still know his face and squeaky OxiClean personality. While Mays died years ago, he’s lived on in meme form, from the famous product launches of Apple to more obvious image macros with Impact font. Why? We ask his son Billy Mays III, his biggest frenemy, and a host of others to explain why someone who was squarely in the age of television continues to appear online in strange and provocative ways. It’s the story of an American staple whose consumerist existence belies a personality that, in the end, was surprisingly wholesome.
    11/18/2021
    46:52
  • MEMES, Part 8: The Scream
    If you typed “inauguration” into your web browser anytime between 2017 and 2020, you likely saw, near the top of your search results, an image of a person in a neon green jacket, black winter hat and glasses screaming “Nooooooooooo!” That person was Jess, who was in Washington D.C. on January 20, 2017 to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump. This “Nooooooooooo!” flew out of Jess after the oath of office, during what seemed to be a deeply painful and private moment. But what Jess didn’t know at the time was that they were being filmed by a UK media outlet. Within hours, this became the scream heard ‘round the world, the meme seen ‘round the world, and a symbol of “liberal fragility” for Trump supporters. Fearing for their safety, Jess went into a sort of hiding – on social media, and in their personal life. Four years later, Jess tells their story for the very first time.
    11/10/2021
    34:02
  • MEMES, Part 7: Dead Giveaway
    In 2013, four white musicians turned a local TV news clip featuring a Black man named Charles Ramsey into a song and uploaded it to YouTube. The auto-tuned meme, titled "Dead Giveaway," gained tens of millions of views virtually overnight. But the musicians, known as The Gregory Brothers, had not asked for Ramsey's permission, leaving him to wonder: Is this flattery or mockery — or bigotry?
    11/4/2021
    38:21

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