Class Exercise 4 – “The Role of the Professional – Engaging the Public through Popular Screen Media”

In this case study I will focus on what i believe to be the most dominant form of screen media today; memes. I am of the opinion that professional figures and organisations are able to engage the public in the most effective way through the use of memes. However, this is where they are also setting themselves up the most. Time after time. Memes have become a vastly powerful medium that has become increasingly popular each year. That being said, Jenkins statement that “with great power comes great responsibility” rings very true.

Due to the ever-changing relevance of memes and how quick they spread, a big corporation or famous political figure can use a meme intending to relate to the young generation, only to meet with disastrous results. It seems the more someone has their ear to the ground the better they are at creating, contributing and discussing the countless formats and variations of memes. Big corporations cannot keep up.

Politicians, celebrities and big companies in the higher rarified atmosphere are unaware of how powerful this form of screen media is and how simple but important the rules are. The young generation on social media have a seriously short attention span, therefore a meme has an extremely low lifespan. There have been numerous instances where a company has tried to cleverly use a meme to promote their products but were instead met with harsh backlash by a young generation who had already moved onto the newest format. It is always totally obvious when the person behind the advertisement has not had their ear to the ground and is not with the times. One particular example that comes to mind is @ToshibaUSA unsuccessfully promoting their earphones with their “normie” humour by tweeting “#TwerkAsYouWork”.

There is a real disparity between using a meme to be “down with the kids” or just trying to be funny.

Understanding the context of a meme and the responsibility that comes with this great meme power is gigantically undervalued. Sites such as KnowYourMeme.com would be a great start for anyone in helping them engage the public in a way that does not make them seem out of touch. On a site like this, all origins and connotations associated with every popular meme is explained in depth. I am of the utmost opinion that knowledge is power to the professional and that he/she should also do their research on any potential meme they may use before attempting to engage the public with it.

“When a company tries to use a meme to reach out to the young generation”

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