Andre Brock, associate professor of literature, media and communication at Georgia Tech, is moderating the event. According to Brock, what makes memes appealing is that “people delight in wordplay, and reinterpreting things with different meanings. The idea of both invention and wordplay, and a different way of seeing the world.”
It’s easy to scoff this off as the latest episode of “Look What the Millennials Did,” but the memes made by these artists contain deep wells of reference to peer into. A recent meme by Khan shows a pale-faced beast, more maw and teeth than body, yelling down into a basement: “Hey, I followed u but u didn’t follow back How come.”
Khan explained that some followers feel that a single reply from her entitles them to an ongoing conversation. “Wow. So you’re just not going to reply to me?” her followers have asked. She responds: “No. I don’t know you. You asked me a question, I answered it. I didn’t even have to answer the question. And they get really upset.”
That experience isn't uncommon among female and femme-presenting internet pages. Many news outlets, including Buzzfeed News and the Guardian, have written about social media models receiving sexually inappropriate and aggressive messages from followers. Khan says entitlement is "common but doubts it's as common with the white men with 100k followers. Those are the people who can get away with (not interacting with followers) and still have 200k followers."
Tonight’s event was organized by the two Atlanta-based artists who run Discrit:Talks, Joey Molina and Chris Fernald, in part, because understood right, memes can be funny, instantly recognizable social and political critiques. Yet though memes have this potential, according to Fernald, they’re often disparaged and relegated to the “trash heap of aesthetics.” Bringing voices that are traditionally sidelined from cultural conversations by their art style, race, gender and identity is one of the primary projects of “Meme Spirited.”
7-9 p.m. today. Free. Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, 535 Means St. NW, Atlanta. 404-688-1970, atlantacontemporary.org/events/discrit-talks-6-13.