By AMBER DION / Staff Writer
It is almost impossible to go on the internet without reading the name Harambe, at least in passing, and as a college student who spends copious amounts of time immersing myself in internet culture I am very aware of what Harambe has become. It is certainly strange how a dead gorilla can be memorialized in such a way (thank you Brandon Wardell for ‘dicks out for Harambe.’) There is definitely a very large moral ambiguity surrounding the Harambe memes, though to really see any morality in memes created by internet trolls is sort of ridiculous, the popularity of the Harambe meme does have something to say about our generation – and its not what you might think.
The obsession with Harambe started off with the greatest of intentions, memorializing a gorilla who seemed to be trying to protect a child was great at first. There was a large outcry against the treatment of zoo animals and it seemed as though for once the internet might have been a place that would incite real change. And there probably are still people who are trying to reduce the possibility for these types of incidents to happen, but in all seriousness, most people aren’t perpetuating Harambe because they care that an animal was needlessly killed.
Harambe memes grew in popularity where it is as easily recognized as the Grumpy Cat and Doge, which is really insane to write if you really think about it and not because memes are cool, but because we are talking about a dead gorilla who is now one of the most popular memes on the internet (though Arthur’s fist seems to have surpassed it at this time). And to look back, it’s hard to say exactly when the craze went off of the deep end and became what it is. It definitely shows how this generation responds to our society. Cecil the Lion was another animal that was needlessly killed, and unlike Harambe, it did not become this gigantic meme – it was the opposite. People were genuinely upset and it grew on the internet where people absolutely hated the dentist who shot him. And yet, with a similar circumstance, no one hates the Cincinnati Zoo. Their twitter was hacked for a short period of time, displaying #DicksOutForHarambe for a few hours, which is amazing, but otherwise, the Cincinnati Zoo hardly received the same outrage that the dentist had. Teenagers were upset about Cecil the Lion far longer than they were about Harambe. While adults were still outraged and trying to create change, teenagers were making memes, and they weren’t making fun of Harambe itself, but instead was a satirical view of how our society responds to tragedies, which is just a really grandiose way of saying that the teenagers were making fun of the adults for caring.
Tragedies are so common in this society, and it wasn’t something that our parents or grandparents had to deal with as much as we have to. We were children when 9/11 happened, and since then, mass shootings and terrorist attacks have increased in our country tenfold. Mass shootings happen almost every month, and we as a generation have become desensitized to the violence in a way past generations haven’t. While the older generations have TV and the radio for their outlet where they nearly talk the topic to death until people can’t stand to hear about them, this generation does something else. This generation has the internet, and it seems like our way of dealing with what is going on in the world is by making fun of it. So, for those of you who say it is ‘disrespectful’ towards Harambe to continue the meme, you really just don’t get it.