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Shakespeare Memes

The word meme originated from a certain book called The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Richard Dawkins used the word meme to refer to any sort of cultural entity that one might consider a replicator. There are various cultural entities that can be considered as replicators, be it songs, fashion, learned skills, etc. Inevitably, and at many times purposely, people do not always copy memes perfectly, and because of this, they are able to refine, combine or generally modify these memes with other memes to create even more new memes and these new memes can be used in another cycle again and change over time as well. Basically, the most fascinating thing about memes is that they display and change through the evolution of culture. Our world is a place where all kinds of different information can behave like our very own human genes and ideas can replicate, mutate and evolve.

Memes display a wide array of cultures, not limited to that of this generation. In fact, even Shakespeare has been incorporated into the meme world! Shakespeare is so widely known that even modern cultural references carry the Shakespeare name and all things Shakespeare. Shakespeare memes display the timelessness of Shakespeare and how Shakespeare transcends the barriers of culture, age, and apparently how people find humor in things.

Here are some examples of Shakespeare memes. Memes do not necessarily have to make sense or be poetic or what have you . As seen in the meme above, people just find ways to make funny stuff and it works. It is clear through the meme on the right how people are able to relate modern concepts like being “emo” to the characters or stories of Shakespeare. The bottom meme shows probably the most popular form of shakepearean meme! These breed of memes take a modern song and “shakespearize” the lyrics with of course, a signature shakespeare image background. For comparison sake, the original lyrics of the song goes, “through the window, through the wall.  til my sweat drops down my balls…” People make use of irony too when it comes to making Shakespeare memes. In the example bellow, the meme maker chose the most crass of songs to be transformed into the most proper and technical english possible.

                People’s ability to grasp shakespeareane concepts and apply them to their lives or as messages to send to people truly shows how Shakespeare has, as the worlds greatest playwright, created literature that has broken the bounds of literature and has exploded into all types and forms of universal culture.

 By Emmanuel Paredes

Sources:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/What-Defines-a-Meme.html

http://masi.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/notabene/memes.html

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Categories: Multimedia Essays
  1. tomgoodstudent
    October 12, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    How can you not love Shakespeare memes? Truly a testament to how Shakespeare enters almost all facets of popular media and communication.

  2. October 14, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Thinking about it, with the kind of popularity that Shakespeare has it was inevitable that memes about Shakespeare would come about. Of course, while there are a few good ones out there, majority of the memes are just quoting famous lines and turning them into hilarious interpretations. One could consider, though, that these memes unintentionally end up reflecting the various aspects of Shakespeare, like his wit and romance.

  3. jmbatuhan
    October 15, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Many would claim that if something has a meme about it, then it’s very much on the public radar. If so, then the sheer number of Shakespeare memes conveys some sense of how deeply Shakespeare pervades our consciousness. The power of memes is evident when they are understood and are embraced effortlessly by people from different backgrounds, and the ease with which Shakespeare is transmitted and received is a testament to how ingrained Shakespeare in the world’s collective culture.

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