Speaking at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick; Blindboy Boatclub of the popular comedic duo ‘Rubber Bandits’ spoke about using internet humour to influence social discourse.
The talk was part of the T1 Step Campaign aiming to increase digital capacity in Limerick colleges.
Mr.Boatclub stated that knowledge of internet memes is crucial to understanding internet humour.
While many of us would consider a meme to be an image with a small amount of text, memes take on a variety of different forms. Anything from a piece of text to a video can be classified as meme
The term is described by Urban Dictionary as something that is, "used to give a bit of pseudo-academic gravitas to stupid viral sh*t."
The term is also recognised by the Oxford Dictionary and defined as, "an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means."
Blindboy differentiated between a meme and viral content. While viral content is simply content that is repeatedly shared, a meme is content that has been altered in some way.
According to Mr. Boatclub, memes have the capacity to treat something serious in a humourous manner whilst remaining relatable and easy to grasp.
He stated that knowledge of memes is essential in understanding how internet humour can be used to influence online socio-political discourse.
Memes can be used to simply communicate ideas from everywhere on the political spectrum.
Facebook pages dedicated to a variety of different subjects including Communist memes, Right Wing Memes and Republican Memes have cropped up throughout the development of Web 2.0.
Mr. Boatclub articulated that modern art is inaccessible to the average person on the street. He stated that art galleries can be perceived as a place for middle class worship with all white ceilings and floors and curators dressed in black similar to priests.
It was implied that the greatest barrier between the average person and art is the academic language and hegemony which causes a fear that other people will be perceive you as an unintelligent for not understanding the art.
"You’re worried about making a fool of yourself in an art gallery when you laugh at a papier mâché pair of tits," he said.
In order to combat this, the Rubber Bandits create content such as ‘Are the Kardashians Terrorists?’ In this clip they combine Marxist Theory alongside popular culture to open a conversation about capitalism to everyone.
Blindboy addresses this issue with humour claiming that the family, "spend half their time acting as if they’ve sniffed five euro’s worth of petrol through the sleeve of a school jumper", as well as pronouncing the family name ‘Carda-Sheehan’.
Concluding the talk, Blindboy addressed criticism of ‘Clicktivism’ or ‘Slacktivism’. These are terms which usually refer to online activism and are often used in a derogatory manner.
It is often implied that clickivism does not extend beyond the internet. However, Blindboy pointed out that online activism aims to spread awareness and information which encourages people to take action, thus leading to social change.