If you have been on the internet at least one time over the past few months, you will have noticed that there is one meme among many–“haven’t heard that name in years“; “you vs. the guy she tells you not to worry about” ; “roses are red” –that has managed to define itself, for whatever reason, as the meme of the summer. It’s Harambe.
Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Harambe? (Jealous!!!) If so, here is the backstory: On May 28th, 2016, a seventeen-year-old silverback gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, named Harambe, was shot and killed after a toddler fell into its enclosure. People on the internet, as one might expect, were not pleased–silverback gorillas are an endangered species and there was some disagreement as to whether or not the gorilla was dragging the child or trying to help him–but one that seemed the type to blow over after a few days.
Then it became a meme. The gist of Harambe, like all successful memes, was bizarre and somewhat tasteless–it piggybacked on the idea that the gorilla was killed senselessly and gained traction from a number of “tributes” to it–but funny enough when deployed under the right circumstances. But then, something happened–the meme refused to die.
Memes are best when they are ephemeral, generally, and have a few weeks or days for people to play with it before some major corporation or politician uses it and renders the meme kaput. Instead, Harambe was absorbed by the alt-right (the movement that presents an alternative conservative ideology and is propelled by memes and other byproducts of internet culture) and use it to express explicitly racist beliefs, most notably to harass Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones (pictures of the gorilla were included among the nude photographs that were posted on her website when it was hacked).
In short, this meme, which was really not ever in good fun at all, has reached a point where it is so definitively not fun that it just needs to stop. How, exactly, remains to be seen (Hillary Clinton posting a “dicks out for Harambe” tribute would do it, probably), but, in the meantime, check out these Harambe posts that prove that the meme has absolutely gone too far:
1. I mean, sure. Sometimes it’s funny:
Me: (Be cool, don't let her know you miss Harambe)
Date: I'll have the banana pudding
Me: You know who else liked bananas
— james nielssen (@cool_as_heck) August 24, 2016
2. Very funny:
friend: did u read about all those awful gorilla jokes people are making
me: that’s terrible
barista: tall latte for Harambe
— dan mentos (@DanMentos) August 24, 2016
3. But do we really want to be living in a world in which you and Martin Shkreli have the same taste in anything, let alone humor?
Has He Risen?
Zoo Staff Find Harambe’s Tomb Empty https://t.co/SFrSzjSQ7n
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) August 23, 2016
4. And Milo Yiannopoulos stans rep Harambe in their Twitter names?
HE'S ALIVE pic.twitter.com/R17s81iMg9
— josh / harambe (@JoshLeCash) August 24, 2016
5. And white boys are singing their dumb li’l ukulele jams about Harambe?
— John SHMURDA Riordan (@johnriordan7) August 24, 2016
6. And their…raps?
THIS RAPS FOR MY HOMIE HARAMBE pic.twitter.com/ZgpRNpidmO
— Hi-Rez (@HiRezTheRapper) August 23, 2016
7. And this Buzzfeed quiz has the very nerve to exist?
— Sharon Wire (@SharWire) August 25, 2016
8. And LITERALLY EVERYONE IS DOING THIS JOKE IT ISN’T FUNNY ANYMORE I PROMISE:
anyone seen this spell your crush in emojis thing? can't be bothered to do it but imagine i spelt harambe. cheers
— ringworm (@prawn_meat) August 24, 2016
9. This one isn’t, either:
#CincinnatiZoo deleted their twitter. just like how they deleted Harambe from our lives.
— Deniz (@denizeatsfood) August 23, 2016
The Cincinnati zoo deleted it's Twitter just like it deleted Harambe
— sam (@samanthagolonka) August 23, 2016
11. This joke, too:
— albana (@albanamyftari) August 25, 2016
12. Also, let you forgot, it has become very racist:
Leslie Jones hacker identified as notorious Zoo Crew member Sam Hyde. Posted a warning before the site was hacked. pic.twitter.com/zdCx05louC
— Just Call Me Mister (@MisterMetokur) August 24, 2016
13. I mean:
Harambe became a big meme thing because it's a "funny African name" that people can make fun of without feeling racist. Come at me.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) August 23, 2016
14. Literally never get you a man who can do both:
The Alt-Right, for when you want a racist who also knows about Harambe jokes.
— Ian Karmel (@IanKarmel) August 24, 2016
15. IF THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO KILL THE MEME, LET IT HAPPEN:
It seems like fun now but when you all see that first Buffalo Wild Wings ad featuring Harambe you won't have anyone to blame but yourselves
— Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) August 25, 2016
16. It’s true:
This is what happens when a meme is too weird and tasteless for brands to co-opt and ruin: It spirals out of control pic.twitter.com/pr1LNJ5iGA
— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) August 23, 2016
17. Let him go:
We need brands to ruin memes. It keeps the ecosystem diverse. Harambe memes are what happens when memes don't get monetized and die.
— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) August 23, 2016
What do you think of the Harambe meme? Has it gone too far or are you still in favor of it? Let us know in the comments!