That’s So Random
Apologies for the mess around with this issue. It sent out, it was blank. I unpublished it, nothing happened. Anyway, here we go.
If you would like to feel old and/or confused, I recommend you check them (it?) out.
The memes on YouTube are compilations of either blurry footage, sound so loud or close to the microphone its distorted or memes including other memes. Usually people falling, making strange faces etc.
I was first introduced to this situation (I literally have no idea whether to refer to it/them as plural or singular) in class. Students were filming and needed something to make the rest of the class laugh. But they didn’t. Not really, or not enough to generate the raucous laughter they were hoping to generate. Instead, it was a lot of silence filled with some guffaws and some head shaking. Hilarious.
Comments under this video are interesting, they are all insightful in their own way. Some of my stand outs include:
‘pov: you are american’
‘Gen Z humor is so bad that it’s good. ’
‘The amount of things that had to come together to make this video is insane, 21st century humor might be the most collaborated thing to exist’
There was also a quote commented by Maverick Hunter Stupidiocy, “In the future, entertainment will be randomly generated!”. The comments in reponse to this were ‘overused’ ‘lol’ and ‘-Veggitales’. Curious as to where this quote came from, I did what all good researchers do and googled it. And apparently it is from an episode of something called Veggitales, which according to one comment ‘…did not really give a shit.’ So more googling followed. I couldn’t find the original upload of Veggitales but what I did find was a cucumber talking to a tomato. The animation was something you’d expect from a low budget early Pixar film. The background is completely white and the vegetables with their large cartoonish eyes carry a shadow. The episode goes on to share the idea of autotainment with two robots telling a why did the chicken cross the road joke. The tomato is the average person questioning the humour. Eventually the tomato thinks they get it, saying that it’s funny because it’s true. The cucumber corrects him by saying that two plus two is four, true but not funny. This is where the robots step in suggesting that the answer to two plus two equals four is a random clip from the Lego movie.
Now, I have no context to this entire scenario, so I have no idea how self-aware this show is. As to the purpose? I’m not sure. But many of the comments speak to the prophet that was Veggietales. Many of the comments refer to Christianity (?), how accurate Veggitales was, and the fact it’s funny.
Whilst I don’t find it funny, I do find it fascinating. I don’t get it. But I don’t know if that matters.
However back to 21st Century Memes. There’s a randomness to this generation. Ironic in a way because I feel like Gen Y were the ones who used to say
‘that’s so random’ about banal things, that weren’t actually random at all. Now 21st Century Memes is random. Sure there is an overall structure but the fact that they are random, is the structure.
The collaborative nature of 21st century memes is interesting. Two of the key features of Web 3.0 are connectivity and ubiquity. Through this lens, 21st Century Meme humour is interesting because it benefits from an understanding of the trends of the web, relies on a sharing of these trends and then dismisses them, because you can still participate without them. An understanding of the fact that they are random and that is what’s important seems central to this.
I am not sure how much awareness Gen Z have about the random, collaborated nature of these memes in general. Many of the responses I have got to asking why they’re funny (yep, I’m a really fun person), centres around ‘because they just are’. This isn’t to dismiss the complex process that comes to consuming such memes, but I think we give more credit to young people who own phones because we think they’re more technologically savvy than they are.
I do think that these memes mimic the random nature of their TikTok feeds. Video after video where it’s hard to tell what finishes and what starts. Their group chats are filled with a combination of pictures, video and text, with no cohesive theme, except for the fact they are sending them.
I love the critical discourse that exists in the comments of these videos. Some acknowledge the editing, others speak to the fact that their humour has depleted because they don’t find them funny.
I am sure we are all familiar with the feeling of sending someone a ‘hilarious’ meme only to hear them say ‘I don’t get…’ But there is someone out there who gets it, or at the very least someone who says ‘very good’. Like my dad, who is trying to acknowledge it, even though it’s probably outside his field of reference. Pretty much how I feel about 21st Century Memes.
Maybe it’s time to bring back ‘that’s so random’?