Tuesday, 21 August 2012


As discussed in the preceding posts of this blog, Richard Dawkins (1976) theorised three characteristics of successful memes, all of which remain relevant today. Fidelity, fecundity, longevity refers to the meme's quality that enable easy imitation, replication and spreadability of the meme. Fragments of information that make sense or are meaningful to the reader are likely to become more successfully imitated or reproduced. In this sense, memes are successful because they are memorable (Blackmore 1998, p. 57). However, there is also an argument that they are important and useful as well, because of the increasing prominent use of memes as a communication method.

One important aspect of meme fidelity is susceptibility (Knobel 2006, 414). The notion of susceptibility refers to the timing or location of a meme, such as the meme's relevance to current affairs, its relation to already successful memes, as well as the interests and values of the space in which the meme is circulated. According to Knobel (2006), "ideal conditions" of susceptibility will allow particular memes to function more easily and maximize the possibilities for the meme to spread and go viral. Under ideal conditions, the "hooks" and "selection attractors" built into the design allows the meme a higher possibilities of success, without being hindered by community filters, audience confusion or other forms of cultural barriers.

For example, since Michael Jordan's retirement, contemporary mass media has consensually advertised, marketed and talked about him as being the greatest basketball player of all time. Certainly, his statistics and overall achievements in the sports reinforce this notion. These images firmly portray Jordan as an iconic hero, in highlight reels, graphic montages, magazine features and endorsement campaigns.

Since retiring as a player, Jordan has ventured into managerial roles within the NBA, first as the general manager of the Washington Wizards and more recently, as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. Both franchises have rarely experienced success under the management of Jordan, with the Bobcats accumulating the unenviable achievement of having the win/loss record in NBA history during the 2011-12 season.

Many fans begun to question Jordan's greatness and alternative memes began circulating throughout the meme and basketball fan communities of the internet. These memes challenge broadcasted versions of Jordan during his playing career, as well as his overall legacy. The memes mock his failures as a team administrator and frequently incorporates existing memes, in order to further the notion of familiarity. The memes spread rapidly via social networks and meme websites, hooking into the sarcastic tone of memetics and ongoing critiques of Jordan's (lack of) administrative skills, that begun originally emerged from within discussion forums and social media.

Official Jordan advertisements.





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