Call it the Meme Movement. This Sprayer Cop Meme Movement is very similar to the famous Looter King Meme Movement when a man from New Orleans was looting beer in the middle of the Katrina event.
Whatever degree of success achieved by the Occupy protests, it’s largely been based on its old-fashioned, off-line demonstrations. They’ve been decidedly physical, as in, non-virtual- staking out real ground in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park and forging signs-and-sit-in protests around the country.
Some of its founding members even disdain online interaction.
Among other reasons, the protests are a landmark event because they are the country’s first large-scale demonstrations led largely by a generation raised on the Internet.
Unsurprisingly, their internet roots started to show.
The protests went viral, but they’ve also spawned all kinds of more playful Internet memes that highlight the dual nature of the Web to an American protest movement.
Though the Internet is an essential tool for amplifying a message, it inevitably leads toward frivolity and parody.
Whereas much was made of how social media aided the uprising in Egypt, the same tools have commonly been used for jokes when it comes to the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Earlier this week, the University of California-Davis police officer who casually swept a line of campus protesters with pepper spray became a viral sensation.
The officer, whose name is Lieutenant John Pike but who’s known simply as ‘Pepper Spraying Cop’ online, was captured on video dousing the faces of sitting protesters.
The footage is remarkable for his seemingly cavalier disposition.
The meme positions the officer pepper-spraying famous figures through history, movies, famous paintings and just about anything else. George Washington crossing the Potomac gets it, and so does Jesus at the Last Supper. Even the hobbits of ‘Lord of the Rings’ get sprayed.
The essential point of the manipulated images is to highlight the absurd nature of the spraying, an apparently callous authority meting out punishment.
This kind of meme – unlike the viral protests themselves – runs counter to the movement’s seriousness.
It is amusing satire, but instead of shouts of injustice, the meme gleefully separates from reality.
Meanwhile, UC Davis students are doing more than snickering at Internet photos.
They’ve gathered to condemn the violence and urged university officials to require police to attend sensitivity training.
Mr Pike, along with another officer and the campus police chief have been placed on paid administrative leave.
There have been other goofy online reverberations, too.
On Amazon.com, ironic reviews of pepper spray have been written. Five stars, reads one: ‘Accept no substitutes when casually repressing students’. The comedy website FunnyOrDie.com gathered the reviews together.
An earlier video of a marriage proposal at Zuccotti Park has been seen by more than 108,000 on YouTube. The clip is titled ‘Occupy My Life.’
One image of a cat bears a note: ‘I am the 99 purrcent.’ Yes, even the Occupy movement has its own LOLcats.
Other variations include Occupy Mordor (again with the ‘Lord of the Rings’) and Occupy Sesame Street. Says the Cookie Monster: ’99 percent of the world’s cookies are consumed by the 1 percent of the monsters’.
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