PoliticsRace, Ethnicity & Culture

Internet Meme Demolition Derby: The “Real” Problem Edition

Welcome to another edition of the Internet Meme Demolition Derby, where we help you figure out which of your relatives or co-workers you should unfriend on Facebook or block on Twitter.

There is so much wrong with our entry this week that I’m not quite sure where to begin. So let’s start with the general and work our way to the specific. Here’s the text for ourMinion meme ugh meme this week, on a tan background accompanied by a Minion that has for some strange reason been photoshopped into a Boy Scouts of America uniform.

The real problem isn’t police “brutality”.

The real problem is we now have an entire generation of spoiled entitled brats, who believe rules and laws don’t apply to them and parents who refuse to be parents and hold their “little kiddos” accountable for their behavior.

To be blunt, there’s not a ton here that we haven’t encountered before in our journey through bad parenting meme land (the most depressing land of all!).  The common complaint, “kids these days”, forms the backbone of a depressing amount of the material we have slogged through these past two years. Of course it’s not just the kids that have failed us, lets save some ire for the parents who refuse to hold their kids accountable, like maybe spanking the little reprobates.

It’s all very tiring to tell the truth.

So if there’s nothing new in general with this meme, what can we learn from digging into the specifics?

Let’s start with the absurdity of putting “brutality” in scare quotes (or sneer quotes if you will.) It’s September of 2015 as I write this,  the last year has seen a number of highly publicized incidents, from the shooting of Michael Brown  in Ferguson, Missouri on  August 9th 2014; to the April deaths of Walter Scott in South Carolina and the death of Freddie Grey while being transported in a Baltimore police van.

Context matters. Creating and sharing a meme like this in the age of #blacklivesmatter, at a time when grand juries are finally handing down indictments in police misconduct cases, at a time when the nation is finally beginning to grapple with the reality of police violence towards citizens, especially African American citizens, is particularly obtuse. It’s a gross disregard for the lives of people impacted by police violence, denying them the dignity of being considered as victims. Instead their fate at the hands of the police is justified.

And justified in truly bizarre language. The fault isn’t laid specifically at black culture or black youth, even though anyone with half an ounce of sense knows what they are talking about. Instead the fault is laid onto an “entire generation of spoiled entitled brats”. Who the fuck are they talking about? I’m used to “spoiled and entitled brats” to be flung at kids these days but it’s usually in the context of white youth and white cultural degradation. I’ve heard a lot of insults I won’t repeat here thrown at the high profile victims of police misconduct, but “spoiled” seems really off key to me. And entitled? That’s the oddest form of “uppity” I’ve seen in awhile.

As for the parents who refuse to “hold their little kiddos accountable for their behavior”, well victim blaming is something that can be visited upon the survivors as well. In fact the media has often had a particular disdain for the parents of police brutality victims. After 12 year old Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland police officers for the heinous crime of playing with a toy gun in the park, Cleveland.com decided that his parents criminal records and domestic situation were somehow relevant.  In any case, why focus on generational politics and parents at all? Michael Brown was 19 years old. Walter Scott was 50. Freddie Grey was 25. Men from completely different generations, they had one thing in common really, they were black and they were killed by the police.

I’m coming down pretty hard on the cops in this piece, I’ll admit to being angry. My hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio is no stranger to police violence, from the death of Timothy Thomas  in 2001 that sparked riots in my beloved Over the Rhine, to the recent shooting of Samuel DuBose,  I’ve seen how these incidents can rip a city apart and rub souls raw with anguish. The kind of pig headed denial represented by this meme is just pathetic. Please, push back against this kind of crap wherever you find it.


Featured Image Credit Joan Concilio on Flickr

Louis Doench

Lou Doench is a 52 year old father of three. Twelve years ago he married the coolest woman in the world and gave up the lucrative career of being a photography student to become a stay at home husband and Dad, or SAHD. An atheist geek, or a geeky atheist if you prefer, Lou likes reading, photography, video gaming, disc golf, baseball and Dr. Who. He has been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 1976. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also an excellent home cook, not that his children would know because they only eat Mac & Cheese. Follow Lou on Twitter @blotzphoto or check out his photography at www.flickr.com/photos/blotz/

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  1. Thanks for bracing up and writing a coherent assessment of this meme. When I saw it my response was more along the lines of “GAH!” and repeated head-desk.

  2. Okay, here’s my take-off on this one:

    The “real problem” isn’t [exactly] Police brutality.
    It’s a culture in which the far and away the most popular response to any sort of distress is to find people to blame it on and demonize, brutalize, bomb, and murder them.

    (Walter Wink called this “the Myth of Redemptive Violence.”)

    The police shoot and beat people, especially people who aren’t like them, because that’s what everyone expects of them. Their families, their friends, the politicians, the police chiefs, the prosecutors and judges, and most of the electorate see the job of the police to be using deadly force to defend “us” from “bad guys,” where “bad guys” encompasses anyone who looks or acts different enough from “us” to make “us” nervous. Dark Skin? Dressed different? Wrong kind of music? Is in my way? Bad guy!

    Look how much popular support Darren Wilson got after killing Michael Brown, and look how quickly and thoroughly the DA’s office disposed of all accusations of excessive force. Look how common death threats are on-line.

    For that matter, the creator of the meme this article is complaining about is clearly justifying the use of deadly force to solve what he (I assume it’s a “he”) construes as a problem.

  3. you know, even if “teenagers being brats*” were actually the one thing all those cases had in common, how is shooting them, suffocating them and breaking their neck an adequate response of allegedly sensible adults?

    *teenagers defy authority? Now that must be the very first time this happened in the history of humankind

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