Is the meme blank parody? Or, postmodern flatness and the problem of meaning in corona memes

Judith Fathallah

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    Millennial humour as epitomized in meme formats is often characterized by surreal randomness, and the juxtaposition of signifiers with no apparent connection or meaning. Whilst there are obvious continuities with surrealism, postmodernism and indeed modernism itself, the rapid viral spread of memes today might seem to produce an attitude of indifferent laughter or indeed total lack of affect concerning contemporary tragedies. Memes concerning the coronavirus have brought this phenomenon into sharp relief. This paper questions what it is about meme formats that create this sense of Jameson’s pastiche as blank parody, or depoliticized lack of affect, whether it is related to the meme format or content or the context of meme production and distribution. I go on to consider whether we can understand it in the same tradition as the modernist rejection of grand narratives in the wake of two catastrophic wars, or whether the concept of metamodernism can better adapt these ideas to contemporary culture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2020
    EventAffect and Social Media 4.5: Media Virality and the Lockdown Aesthetic -
    Duration: 16 Jul 202017 Jul 2020
    Conference number: 4.5


    ConferenceAffect and Social Media 4.5
    Internet address


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