The cost of going viral on real people behind memes


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BuzzCut is News18’s new series where we break down a recent internet trend and delve deeper into internet culture to understand why it is causing a stir on the internet.

The principle behind memes is simple and the most complex thing in the world: the human experience. Is the human condition so easily classifiable and capable of being inserted into universal models? Memes would have you believe that this is how we are all really more alike than we would like to believe. Gen Z find themselves particularly drawn to this mode of communication which allows you to speak in words that are not your own and, therefore, offers you a certain degree of separation regardless of its impact. But what about the people behind the memes, the ones who are sacrificed on the altar with easy laughter? These are real people whose real and lived experiences have now become universal, distorted, misinterpreted, reconstructed and enriched. Add to that the fact that what people find funny or cringe has a very specific class angle, and you’ll find that going viral doesn’t tax the rich either. Time and time again memes have responded, but are we listening?

The man ‘Kacha Badam’

Bhuban Badyakar, the West Bengal street vendor whose song to sell peanuts has gone viral, recently approached the police to help them claim the profits the song generated. “My song is all over the internet, but I don’t earn a single rupee. I want to protect my song and get a share of the profits my song brings to others, ”he told Zee 24 Ghanta Live. The fame dichotomy doesn’t apply to people like Bhuban; only thing that remains of notoriety when we remove all the positive: virality.

There are countless remixes of Bhuban’s song on YouTube, with many vloggers even claiming it is theirs. “I am a simple guy from a village. I want the police to help me get the credit and profit I deserve for the song. Many warned me not to come to the police saying that someone might hurt me. But I’m glad I finally came, “Bhuban told Zee 24 Ghanta Live.

Sandy Saha

If you think the mention of this name robs a serious topic of credibility, think again. At first glance, he appears to have capitalized his internet virality, having ended up on MTV Roadies and a niche Bengali comedy show. He doesn’t seem to mind being viciously trolled online, with the abuse almost always centered around his sexuality and leaving what is traditionally seen as “male.” From queerphobic and transphobic slurs to graphic threats of assault, the comments under Saha’s Facebook videos indicate it. all. Yet he appears to be relentless. It does more of what entertains people and simultaneously derives the most vitriol from it. This should make one wonder why he is among a growing number of people from queer and marginalized communities who deliberately accentuate the characteristics that set them apart, to the comedic effect of debauchery (think Nouman Khan, Deepak Kalal). Even though Saha is openly gay and says there is no tragic story for him, the trend remains concerning, almost as if, intentionally or not, this is the only way people from queer communities without clear financial benefit of entering the mainstream.

Ranu Mondal

From singing at Ranaghat Station to singing with Himesh Reshammiya, Ranu Mondal is said to have lost his mind due to his newfound fame and wealth, and has become the stuff of memes. Much criticism is directed at her, all of which started from a video showing her refusing a “fan” for a selfie, asking them not to touch her. bring her back to the station. Most popular joke of all: her celebrity status, asking “How dare you not be a traditionally attractive and wealthy woman and still believe in your own celebrity?” To claim that it is talent or lack of talent would be misleading, as people go viral on social media for much less talent than Mondal’s.

“Hide the Pain Harold”

The ‘hide your pain Harold’ meme showing an elderly man smiling through clenched teeth was all the rage on the internet back when memes still depended on turning photos into different situations. Over the years, it doesn’t remain popular anymore, but in recent times the old memes models have made a comeback, which kind of increases their pullback factor.

In an interview with LAD Bible in 2018, Harold, then 72, revealed that he had been devastated by his notoriety on the internet. He had already said yes to a photographer who wanted to take some of his vacation photos, not knowing what the archive photos were. After uploading them to Google images to see how it worked, the viral meme was born, its virality shocking and disorienting him. In the interview, he wanted us to know that he is more than “just a funny guy with a painful smile”.

The models

The list could go on and on. Among the others would be Ghyslian Raza, the “Star Wars Child” who was secretly recorded by classmates as he wielded an imaginary lightsaber. Her parents sued the families of those classmates for $ 250,000 for the mental distress caused to Raza, according to a report from Mental Floss. The ‘The Epic Boobs Girl’ meme began with a woman posting a photo of her own body on her own page, which was then posted on various other platforms without her permission. The Press Complaints Commission dismissed her privacy complaint regarding images published on Loaded magazine with the headline “Wanted!” The girl with the epic breasts! ”He went on to describe her as having the“ best breasts in the neighborhood ”.

Do you notice a pattern here? It’s not just the fact that these are all people caught in unhappy times, or who have been battered by fate. They are marginalized in different ways: some are poor, some are old, some are just women. While some have capitalized on their notoriety on the Internet, some have succumbed to it. Going viral doesn’t mean fame that comes with benefits – for many people, that means downsides, even if the “meme” being consumed is in a positive light. The memes we consume point to something, and it’s time for us to take a closer look.

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