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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Hurricane memes: Let’s laugh before Irma hits

I wanted to write about something political. I really did. I wanted to write about how I was told by two professors that class might be canceled either due to weather conditions or the violent threats of white supremacists. I wanted to write about the repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

I wanted to say a lot of things, but I’m not an authority on any of those subjects. I’m too tired, and I’m mentally preparing myself for what could be a bad hurricane and a week of eating canned beans.

So instead I’m going to write about memes.

With the announcement of Hurricane Irma spiraling into a Category 5 (the strongest one to make projected landfall in Florida in more than a decade), came preparedness announcements, The Weather Channel videos — and memes. Lots and lots of memes from every corner of the internet.

I write about memes a lot. It’s a thing. I don’t actively partake in making them, but I prefer to watch them from afar, consume them and then reflect upon them. They’re an interesting phenomena. I’ve talked about them before, how our generation uses memes as a way to project some sort of concrete feeling out of an era of tumultuous change, not unlike the Dada art movement during the post-World War I era.

Why do I find memes so fascinating, you might ask? Why have I written multiple columns on them?

Well, I’d like to bring up another art movement that happened in direct response to another tumultuous time in our history: the theatre of the absurd, which spun off in the post-World War II era, and was notable for such works you might have used SparkNotes in high school as “Waiting for Godot” and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.”

Let me tell you a bit about that last one.

If you don’t know much about that play, it follows two minor characters from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” as they fumble around the events of the play and try to find meaning in it all. As an audience familiar with “Hamlet” (and with the title of this play), we know they are going to die. It’s a given. And in the grand scheme of “Hamlet,” they are nothing, just two off-hand mentions at the end, while we are focused on the more important characters.

The play is funny. It relies on physical humor and wordplay. Although our two leads do everything they can to prepare for their destiny, they can’t quite do anything to stop it from happening. At least they find a sort of comfort in having each other before they are carted off to the inevitable.

And that I think is what we are trying to do with memes.

Because, friends, we’re all going to die. Whether we like it or not. Soon after, time will eat at all of our accomplishments and one day, someone will say our name for the last time on this planet and then never again. It’s inevitable.

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But let’s look at that in a less dismal and depressing sense. The hurricane is going to come, and it’s going to be strong. After stocking up on water, nonperishable foods and gas, and after hunkering down, evacuating and getting in contact with our loved ones, what are we going to do? We might as well accept what is coming. We might as well make light of our fate, reach for a hand to hold and laugh among our piles of Bush’s baked beans.

What’s going to come is going to come, so taking influence from our artistic predecessors, we might as well find joy and absurdity in the inevitable before it does.

Petrana Radulovic is a UF English and computer science (super) senior. Her column appears on Fridays.

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