Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Muslim Memes Blogpost 3: The interpretive public

One key characteristic of memes is that they have the ability to circulate quickly throughout the Internet to many different audiences, especially though social media. What makes a Facebook page like Muslim Memes unique is that it has a very specific audience. The fact that the memes deal with Islam means that it may not be circulated as widely due to the amount of knowledge required to understand the punchlines of the memes. Other memes surveyed in this blog series which deal with Christianity may be circulated more widely especially in the West, regardless of whether the meme is critical or innocuous, because audiences are more literate in the Christian tradition.

Muslim memes appear to be circulated and viewed within networks of Muslims. As was observed in previous weeks' posts, the content of the memes in the Muslim Memes Facebook page deal with Muslim experiences in usually innocuous and humorous ways. All of the memes are posted by the admin of the page and are presumably submitted by users directly to the admin. While the intention of the original meme creator is difficult to know, the admin intend for the memes to be for amusement. The About section of the page offers a disclaimer that read, “THIS PAGE IS STRICTLY FOR AMUSEMENT AND NOT TO OFFEND ANYONE OR ANY RELIGION. The admin of Facebook page 'Muslim Memes' do not advocate, approve nor endorse any of these memese[sic] posted on this page.”

The audience of Muslim Memes usually appear to interpret the memes as innocuous and humorous. Many of the comments on the following meme were expressions of laughter, such as 'lmao' and 'looool'. A couple of comments were transliterated into English from another language (presumably Arabic) so I could not understand them. “Nikah” means marriage.

There is a bit of discussion regarding the intention of the second meme, in which Legolas from the Lord of the Rings film trilogy recites “There is no deity but Allah.” One user voiced his suspicion about the intention of the meme:

“I don't know what to say.. to me, this is like an insult . . . and all those muslims who liked this picture were all fooled.. I mean.. just look at it.. In a long time ago Elves were borned out from the fire of hell created by gods(which is not), came down to earth to bring chaos by lurking in the shadows of the forests around the world.. and if you say that this elf could be a muslim.. then you're stupid..”

Others respond to this initial concern by stating that the meme should be interpreted as a harmless joke:

“I don't think this page was created to mock the religion, but rather to have harmless fun about what silly things we do as Muslims.”

“This is clearly a harmless joke. Do not cloud your mind with useless superstitions. There is easily enough evidence to suggest that this page is only intended to support Muslims, not insult them.”

“oh geeeez have a sense of ha-ha!! or just click NEXT~”

The third meme has a picture of Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story films talking into a communicator, remarking about how there are no Muslims in the mosque the day after Ramadan. This meme may be taken as a friendly reminder to Muslims to be vigilant in religious rituals. Indeed, here the admin post a comment interpreting the meme this way: “Remember, just because Ramadan might be over does not mean you stop going to the masjid!” The comments were a mixture of solemn agreement (“sadly it's true,” “May Allah bless us all with the intention to be better Muslims.Ameeeeeeen,” “Sab[sic] but true. Hypocrits... Hypocrites everywhere”) and expressions of laughter.

The memes selected for analysis appear to be interpreted mostly as lighthearted humor. In the case of the Buzz Lightyear meme, users expressed agreement with the observations, though they did not interpret the meme as being critical of the religion as much as being an indictment of certain behaviors and admonitions to be better Muslims.

The interpretative community for Muslim memes is a narrower public than those whom view and interpret other religious memes. Overall, Muslim memes use parochial humor that members of the in-group would understand. Messages are interpreted mostly as humorous, in keeping in line with the goals of the admins of the Facebook page.

Finally, in addition to the expressions of laughter and discussion about the harmless nature of the jokes, many of the comments were simply links to other Facebook users' profiles. This tags the Facebook user in the comment so the person tagged is directed to the comment and the meme. Further development of the significance of sharing these memes cannot be expressed in this blogpost, but suffice to say that Muslims memes are readily shared among Facebook friends, presumably within a network of Muslims.

No comments:

Post a Comment