Everything You Missed At The Harambe Memorial Service

The cavalcade of emotional, digital, political and cultural disasters that have hit the internet in 2016 ended up being so numerous that it’s hard to look back and take stock of things.

Still, someone’s got to do it. At least, that was the idea behind Bingefest’s Harambe Memorial Service. After all,  if you’re going to stare into the maws of Armageddon, you might as well make fun it with dank memes.

Dan Ilic warning the crowd that the following hour is “not a safe place for the president elect” pic.twitter.com/OlpyzoSv0y

The event, featuring Instagrammer Celeste Barber, The Backburners’ James Colley, Theo Saidden the Superwog, Buzzfeed’s Jenna Guillaume, writer and feminist Bec Shaw and journalist and comedian Dan Ilic, proved itself equal parts riotous and thought provocative.

Here are some of the highlights:

The Case Of Sad Affleck

While revisiting the Sad Ben Affleck meme in the physical context of the Sydney Opera House definitely carried it’s own merit, it proved a great case study for how memes can begin and end life in very different places. Originating with the press tour for Batman v Superman, this meme found new life during the Kafkaesque arc of the US Presidential Election. It was a great example of how a meme can morph over time.

Blaming Texas

Celeste Barber and the rest of the panel eventually came around on the interesting detail that many of 2016’s most prolific memes emerged from the (dank) plains of Texas. Coincidence, or is there something in the water supply there? Either way, it’s good news for everyone on the panel, who were able to get in their best jabs at the American state.

There Are Always More Memes

Despite its panel of internet experts, a recurring element of the Harambe Memorial Service was watching different people ‘discover’ memes for the first time. Theo was delighted by Chewbacca Mom while Celeste was immediately won over by the absurd conspiracy theory that Ted Cruz could be the Zodiac killer.

It also highlighted the strange tension between how inconveniently fast memes move and the idea that on the internet, “it’s rude to not be up to date on the latest thing.”

On The Origin Of Memes

Emma says that sites like Twitter and Tumblr are designed to incentivize original content, which is why memes originate there #bingefest

A lot of time during the panel was spending dissecting and trying to understand where memes come from and Emma offered up a pretty compelling reason why memes do come from platforms like Twitter, Tumblr and Vine before being mercilessly copied onto places like Reddit and Facebook.

She noted the community around the former tending to promote creative content while the latter is “a bit of a free for all.”

It’s All Over Once You Get On Ellen

Dan Ilic’s chart detailing the rise and fall of most memes did a great job of summarizing things. Memes often start in places of obscurity, experience a rapid spike in growth as things get out of hand, then ‘officially’ go viral and earn recognition from mainstream media like Ellen, which seals their fate by making them uncool.

It’s the circle of life memes.

Going Legit

There was definitely an interesting discussion to be had during the political section of the panel when the topic of official outlets getting into the world of memes. While political memes themselves are can sometimes get pretty popular, their virality often saddled due to the conscious effort, seen as uncool by the internet, that goes into them.

The Harambe Memorial Service took place at this year’s BingeFest weekend in Sydney over the 17th & 18th of December. 

Photography by Prudence Upton


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