Memes: are they the destruction of true art?

Are memes actually destroying art?

If art is subjective and intended to be open for interpretation then what is happening to the current creative culture?

In case you’ve been living under a rock, a meme is basically a picture with a caption smeared on the bottom, or top, or over the whole thing covering the picture itself.

Memes tell you exactly what’s going on in the picture. Videos sandwiched between two lines of text tell us everything we need to know about the very thing we are watching.

What’s the point in watching the video, or listening to a story when we know the ending? It’s almost the film equivalent of posting spoilers at the very beginning of the movie.

No one expects to be shown a trailer for a movie after they’ve made the decision to watch it, so why do we do it with everything else? Why do we give in to clickbait rather than thinking for ourselves and coming to our own conclusions?

Will films and film culture adopt this trend?

The beauty of narrative storytelling, especially in film, is anticipation and intrigue. Without some kind of mystery there’s no reason for engaging in the story, yet many memes and internet videos have completely removed all mystery.

Anyone who posts a video naturally wants maximum views. They know people won’t watch it unless the audience knows exactly what they’re investing their next 2 minutes in.

Movie trailers are now including a 5 second mini trailer OF THE TRAILER at the beginning because they know people will scroll right past if their attentions aren’t captured within the first second.

To me this is ridiculous. Why have we, as humans, become so distrustful in each other, we won’t take a risk and spend the next, however many minutes, watching a video that could or could not be horrible.

Personally, I’m tired of seeing videos titled ‘OMG, you will cry’, or, ‘Try not to laugh compilation’.

Why? Maybe it’s just me but I don’t want to be told how a story will make me feel before I watch/hear it because it will always affect me on a personal level, but I found this often happens with internet videos.

Films are another form of art. Art often tells a story. Stories affect us in many, yet personal, ways.

When you read a review of a film, it’s often written from an objective point of view.

Sometimes the critic will make their own opinion obvious and occasionally how it affected them personally, but ultimately they may attempt to criticise the film itself on how well it was created regardless of their own personal convictions.

We all have our own favourite movies. Sometimes our reasoning for loving or hating a film simply does not make sense to others, yet we still stand by our passion or hatred.

Desiring to connect with a story in a personal way makes sense, but we need to understand others may/will not get the same revelation from it we did.

When you hear about a recent film topping the charts you will naturally be intrigued. You expect a movie that seems to be doing incredibly well at the box office to change your life, but when it doesn’t you conclude it’s a bad film. Objectively the film isn’t terrible but it was ruined by your high expectations.

It was no one’s intention for you to hate the film but in your defense you were told beforehand by one of your friends, “The film is so emotional it will make you question everything you ever believed in and your life will be forever changed.”

Unfortunately, we are afraid to watch a new movie if we know nothing about it or if none of our friends have seen it/recommend it. We want to know straight away whether it’s worth our time, so we won’t see it unless we are confident it will be incredible.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Have we lost our attention spans?

When we’re ‘surfin the web’ (an old archaic phrase used in the 90’s) we love to scroll. We only stop when something catches our eye. If it doesn’t stand out we don’t give it a second thought.

We may scroll right past a 5 minute video which could actually change our life because we are more interested in the 30 second one titled, ‘omg this cat is hilarius im crying lol’. (Bad grammar and spelling intended.)

For some reason 5 minutes is too much time for us to take out of our precious 3 hour facebook scrolling session.

We get bored easily. We counteract this by constantly scrolling. Sometimes if we don’t know what it’s like to be bored, it’s possible we’ll forget what it’s like using our own imaginations.

What if our culture becomes so obsessed with constant entertainment that we don’t know how to sit through a 90 minute feature film… or simply be content with sitting in silence?

I believe memes and clickbait are misrepresenting art.

What should you do?

  • Don’t have expectations for a film. Watch it and come to your own conclusions. It may have a theme or a moral, but ultimately you have the freedom to interpret it in your own way.
  • Take a chance with unpopular videos, even if they do end up being bad.
  • Spend less time scrolling. If you find yourself constantly looking for the next funny video, maybe just stop and let yourself be bored for a second. You might actually come up with an imaginative and creative way to keep yourself entertained.


  • Jay Evans


    Jay Evans has spent the last 8 years working as a film editor, 4 of which have been with The Initiative Production Company. In his spare time he enjoys music, comedy, experimental cooking and getting lost in the woods.


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