Thursday, 23 August 2012


Fecundity is Dawkins' second key feature of successful memes. Fecundity refers to the rate at which an idea or a trend is copied and spread. That is, the more quickly a meme spreads, the higher the possibility it will capture wider imaginations and sustained attention, and will be replicated, reproduced and distributed in the process (Knobel 2006, 412). A recent example of how the rapid spread of a meme can have on cultural trends in the world, is provided by the fan responses to Chicago Bulls bench warmer Brian Scalabrine. Fan-recorded videos of Scalabrine during Bulls games are posted throughout YouTube, in which the crowds unanimously cheer for him by chanting his name or the slogan "MVP". These positive crowd responses draw heavily on the host of Brian Scalabrine related memes that has flooded sports meme and basketball fan communities throughout the internet. The memes sarcastically praise his basketball skills and portray him as a marquee talent. The memes spread like wildfire throughout basketball fan networks, where it was copied, refined, combined and transmitted across the various meme communities on the internet. The sarcastic tone of the memes created humour, which in turn, created buzz for the theme, which ultimately lead to the success of the meme as it became "trendy" for online basketball fans to make Brian Scalabrine memes. The success of the meme has translated into the mainstream with fans offering him support that has traditionally been reserved for the superstars of the game. The other significant impact of the meme is that, those who are less familiar with basketball may possibly mistake Scalabrine to actually be one of the sport's major superstars. The exposure of Scalabrine through the fecundity of the meme effectively transformed his image to a career fringe player, to a cult hero.

Richard Brodie (1996) adds an important dimension to the analysis of memes. He argues that memes tend to influence minds more quickly when they are transmitted by "trustworthy others" (Brodie 1996, 152). The "trustworthy others" Brodie (1996, 152) refers to can include "people I would like to be like" or "people like me". So using the Scalabrine memes as an example, fans exposed to the memes were mostly already interested in basketball and memes, and because it became "cool" to create Scalabrine memes, many individuals wanted to follow the trend as well. Thus, affinity spaces and ideal conditions clearly play a role in the fecundity of a successful meme.

Scalabrine chants:

Scalabrine Memes:


No comments:

Post a Comment