Memes have become a widely popular internet sensation. As a combination of parody-like photos with a few descriptive sentences, the cultural phenomenon targets everything from politics to “first-world problems.” No topic is left untouched.
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With more than 5,000 followers on Facebook, the UNLV Memes page is infamous among some Rebels for its knee-slapping and sometimes controversial humor. The Rebel Yell spoke with the administrator of the page — a graduate student who requested we keep his identity anonymous — who talked candidly about UNLV Memes and his views of the comment threads of arguments that tend to occur on occasion.
The Rebel Yell: What was the inspiration behind creating the page?
Memes: I just saw something stupid [at UNLV] and I thought I’d make a meme about it. I go to find the page [for UNLV-related memes] and I thought, “Certainly there must be one.” And there was one, but there were two things on it and it had been abandoned. Neither of them were funny. So I just made [a new page] and invited my handful of friends.
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RY: What was the something stupid that you saw?
M: They always have the sorority … over there at the Union courtyard. They’re just screaming and I’m like, “Sounds like a goddamn rollercoaster out there. What the hell is going on?” So I made this incorrect Futurama Fry and just uploaded it. That’s just kind of what started it.
RY: What was your goal in creating the page? A lot of the memes seem to be very negative.
M: Very few of this is negative. You have to define negative. Things are funny.
RY: The memes do seem to poke fun at a lot of things on campus, though.
M: Yeah, but that’s not negative. Negative is a wrong word. I think holding a mirror up is more [appropriate]. It’s social commentary at worst. I think most people would understand them as me just goofing around.
RY: Would you say then that your goal is to hold a mirror up to the campus community? Do you have a goal?
M: There’s no goal because they’re silly. They’re innately silly. I wanted other people to post [memes] because they’re funnier than I am by and large. I want to laugh. I want other people to make me laugh. And other people are better at making me laugh than I am.
RY: Some students said they would like to see the page take a little more risk and explore darker, riskier humor. Is that a direction this page may take?
M: I could deal with dark. I’m fine with dark humor just as long as it’s not trash. My sense of humor is kind of what’s guiding it because those are the things I find funny. But if someone else thinks of something dark I’m not going to say no if it’s funny.
RY: What are things you would never consider posting on the page?
M: I’m not putting someone’s ex up there because they’re mad at their ex. That’s ridiculous. That or homophobia. That’s an instant ban. Two reasons: One … because it’s terrible and wrong. And two is if I let that go … I’m pretty sure that would have pissed the [Nevada System of Higher Education] Board of Regents off. It’s easier to graduate if you’re an undergrad. It is an enormous pain in the ass to graduate if you’re a grad student. One thing I [would] rather not deal with is trying to graduate and having pissed off pretty much everyone. I don’t think making fun of the campus at large in the way I’m doing is necessarily going to raise any eyebrows.
RY: Why did you create the page if you knew there was a chance that it could compromise your chances of graduating?
M: When I went to undergrad there were a whole lot of people that were into [campus memes] and they were hip to that. When I made the page I expected a couple of hundred people. And that’s what it was for a year. I made it spring semester of . But before the floods [on Sept. 11] … I had maybe 800 or 900 followers and I thought, “Woah, look at me. I’m balling out of control over here.” And then I check it that afternoon and I had 2500 people. I checked it the following day and I had 3500 people. I’m like, “Oh my God. I’m drunk with power!” I had no idea that it would take off. Hind sight is definitely not 20/20.
RY: What’s your favorite meme?
M: I really don’t know. [The one made by] this guy Malo Tauma. I thought that was hysterical. [The memes are] all kinds of funny to me when I make them and maybe they’re not funny the next day.
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RY: What has been the most controversial meme?
M: [The] “Scumbag Steve” meme [on Nov. 18]. I thought it was funny. I just saw that they used “Frat” and I thought I’m going to put it up there anyway because I know it makes them mad and I think it’s funny. [This] guy was apparently very, very displeased and a lot of his buddies were displeased. This whole comment thread was atrocious. Apparently enough of his friends spammed the report as “abusive” link and got it deleted. I never got a warning message from Facebook. I did get a couple of hateful emails. I thought that was the most controversial one because I’ve never had anything pulled down by Facebook before. People get riled up the most when … something even [remotely] Greek-related comes in. All of sudden emotions are high and people have a lot of stupid emotions all in a row all down the comment section.
RY: What are the most successful memes?
M: [Those] pandering to the football crowd. And then when I made fun of the UNR memes. I made a little bit of fun of them and that was well received.
RY: How long would you say you spend answering comments on the page?
M: It’s a fabulous distraction. If I’m in the middle of something and I get annoyed with it, I’ll just see what’s going on [in UNLV Memes]. Sometimes people say incredibly stupid things and I’ll respond if it’s stupid and it’s about me or the page and it’s dead wrong. I’ll respond then, or if I just think it’s funny and I’ve got something stupid to say. Most of the things I say are stupid. I’ll be the first to admit that. [But] most of the comments on there don’t really require a response.