If Julio Iglesias is like the Guernica of memes, there are others that would also be recorded in a hypothetical universal history of the format. For example, the image of the heterosexual couple walking down the street while the boy turns to look at another passer-by (it is usually called Distracted boyfriend), which is used to express the desire for something better than what we have, although this does not is completely wrong (because, many times, the basic image already implies the meaning of the meme). Batman giving Robin a resounding slap.
The girl who looks at the camera with a malevolent expression while a house burns (known as Disaster girl). The big, muscular dog versus the wimpy little dog (Swole Doge vs. Cheems), representing the glories of a heroic past versus contemporary silliness. Gene Wilder’s condescending expression playing Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…
And countless of them, like those that can be found on the specialized website Know your meme, where articles, interviews or newsletters are posted and a large community of fans gathers, as if it were a brainy magazine about an artistic discipline , literature or cinema. The meme is a serious thing.
An institution as respectable as the National Library of Spain (BNE) also takes memes very seriously and collects some of them as part of its documentation strategy for the Spanish web. “Citizens do not usually understand memes as a social manifestation,” says Mar Pérez Morillo, director of the BNE’s Division of Digital Processes and Services, “because only with the passage of time do we become aware of the value of certain documents and popular manifestations. ”.
In this context, memes would be something similar to the ephemera that the Library also collects, minor documents that include candy wrappers, Romanticism dance cards, paipáis, stickers, communion reminders.
“They reflect culture and society of our country at a given time. The information that is published on the internet is very ephemeral and we cannot assess today what will be of interest in the future”, says Pérez Morillo.
Thus, part of what they collect on the web may seem insubstantial today, “but in the future it will be a reflection of what worried us, how we reacted to social and political events. They are a perfect sample of our society and how it deals with reality,” she adds.