Memes as Self-Expressive Edit
We now look at how memes become a self-expressive tool that is becoming more useful as technology becomes better. Copying and imitating has become the aspect of the meme that incorporates participatory culture, giving the user the ability to then add their own flair or finesse to the meme itself. What this creates is then a community of online users who are creating upon what they were already given, remediating media, and creating more tight-knit online societies. As said by Henry Jenkins, "If the right meme was deployed, theory suggests, it would successfully acquire people, reaching more and more possible consumers as goes." This suggests that given the meme was appropriate for the intended audience then it will continue on to spread out and further reach more users.
An example here can be when we look at how users go on to create memes that are based off of original media. For instance PSY's single "Gangnam Style" was an internet craze that generated millions of views and shares in the online community. Here we can see how Henry Jenkins' theory of spreadability comes into play for it "relies on open-ended participation as diversely motivated but deeply engaged consumers retrofit content to the contours of different niche communities" (Jenkins). "Gangnam Style" turned into many other types of styles such as "Mitt Romney Style" and many other parody spin-offs. Users fit their lifestyles and activities into preexisting media, "Gangnam Style" lyrics and dance, to create their own versions and thus also creating online communities.
Here the content is retrofitted to fit the events that were going on during 2012, more specifically Mitt Romney's run for the presidential seat. Active participation in digital culture is what drives these memes, and what drives the users to then create and share. Author of Memes in Digital Culture Limor Shifman contends that memes are actually an index of an operating digital culture and this activity can be measured and utilized to further better the quality and quantity of memes geared for the specific viewer (Shifman).
We can look at this example as a remix, if you will, for it does something new while incorporating the old. Looking at the Mitt Romney example we have what is explained by Lawrence Lessig as "remixed media may quote sounds over images, or video over text, or text over sounds. The quotes thus get mixed together. The mix produces the new creative work— the 'remix' ". Remixing is active participatory culture especially in this case because it is bringing in political knowledge that was actively going on at the time. Not only this but it also adds a comedic aspect to the original "Gangnam Style" while also slightly making fun of politician Mitt Romney.
Jenkins, Henry. "If It Doesn’t Spread, It’s Dead (Part Two): Sticky and Spreadable — Two Paradigms." Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 July 2015.
Lessig, Lawrence. Remix. N.p.: Bloomsbury Academic, 2008. Print.
Shifman, Limor. Memes in Digital Culture. N.p.: MIT, 2013. Print.