February 24 – In a photo posted on Ukraine’s official Twitter account the day the attack began, a giant Adolf Hitler bends down and slaps a humble Vladimir Putin on the cheek, a student from Master.
The following message reads: “This is not a ‘meme’, but now our reality and yours.”
This is not a ‘meme’, the reality of this moment for us and you.
– Ukraine / Ukraine (Ukraine) February 24, 2022
Nearly two million people liked the tweet and thousands shared it, making it one of the war-defined viral adoption so far.
Yet the country’s official messaging is only a small part of the memes of the Ukraine war.
For two weeks after the attack, Ukraine’s official accounts were removed from the comics, allowing the Internet to fill the void.
Dozens of dedicated accounts have sprung up and social media platforms have been flooded with content – from cardboard tank cats to endless jokes about World War III and Star Wars movie remakes on TikTok.
But beyond the pleasure of a few seconds, does meme have a more expansive role?
“I don’t think the Memes will end the war,” said Charlie Gere, a professor of sociology at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.
He generally describes memes as “nihilistic japping” that can have minimal impact outside of their own cultural sphere.
The war has given birth to a meme that transcends Internet curiosity into real-world products.
The St. Javelin Mem – a religious icon in the style of a Madonna holding a rocket launcher – now features T-shirts and other merchandise sold by Canadian-based marketer Christian Boris.
He says all his profits go to Ukraine’s war efforts and tells the BBC that he has raised more than $ 1 million (about Rs 7.63 crore).
Memes are generally considered to be an effective way to spread a message and attract visitors.
Christian Dumais, a writer and comedian whose Twitter ego-changing “Drunk Hulk” has been behind a lot of viral content over the years, says Ukraine has become incredibly clear in its use of memes.
“The ability of a meme to re-enact what we see in the world as catastrophic, inspiring, provoking and educating is redefining how we can reach people,” he said.
‘Express Our Anger’
Vincent Miller, author of “Understanding Digital Culture” at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, sees memes as a kind of conversation that could enable the development of political debate.
“Because of their anonymous nature and origins, memes allow people to avoid much friction and social divisions that are often associated with making political statements online,” he told AFP.
Whether influential or not, memes will continue to spread around the war.
Ukraine’s official Twitter account, after a two-week hiatus, returns to the meme over the weekend, posting a picture mocking Russian tanks and highlighting another collapsing Russian economy.
Other Twitter users have been posting pictures congratulating Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Right now he’s being embodied in my feed,” says Gere, “as opposed to Ersatz’s manlyness, he has become the epitome of nobility and courage and real masculinity.”
One of the most popular memes is that Jelensky has been cast as a Marvel superhero
His Russian opponent, Vladimir Putin, did not do so well, appearing timid behind his huge marble table in various ways, begging China for help, or making fun of him in various ways.
“I know we’re not talking about revolutionary tactics here,” Dumais said, “but memes in this context are significantly better than adding the Ukrainian flag to your social media profile.”
He mentions that creating memes requires at least some engagement with the subject.
“They help us to express our anger and feelings of helplessness,” he said.