It was in 1976 that the term appeared for the first time under the name of “mimesis”: Richard Dawkins, the English popularizer and theorist, defines this action as an imitation of a behavior. In 1996, the release of the first GIF popularized it and made it viral. Today, it is difficult to avoid the presence of this element of digital culture. Inspired by pop culture, the meme is emerging as the new tool of 2.0 counter-culture. Relayed within web communities sharing identical cultural codes, it is one of the emblematic chains of the Y generation.
Viral cultural phenomenon, the same likes to divert or imitate behaviors using images, videos, GIF, … in a well-defined context. A meme, as simple as it may be, remains a creative element that aims to arouse emotion with a clear message. Appealing to creativity, it allows for a variation of tones and arouses enthusiasm, interaction, and virality. For some, it has even become a marketing technique!
No more expensive advertising campaigns when one viral meme is enough to propel a brand under the gaze of thousands of Internet users.
More than just virtual entertainment, memes have impact beyond the symbolic when addressing political, social and cultural issues and making fun of them. In the age of LOL culture, they can be a formidable weapon. The greats of this world have not hesitated to use them to communicate, such as Donald Trump, a fervent adept of social networks, who has used this tool by hijacking the “Game of Thrones” series on numerous occasions to respond to his detractors, to the dissatisfaction of HBO, the channel that broadcasts the famous series.
Creative and imaginative, has playing with codes and the absurd become an art in its own right? The question is debated, and some critics do not hesitate to categorize it as a new discipline. Indeed, by its original concept, the same refers to the idea of catharsis. The principle of collage is inspired by pop culture. Moreover, memes are new ways of looking at our society. Many works of art today are inspired by this trend, which is far from being ephemeral. In just a few years, memes have gone beyond the derisory and have become the perfect representation of a web generation, which, although expert in handling LOL, is nonetheless committed, viral and creative.