Memes: Entertaining or Offensive?


Instagram is one of many social networks that is essential to “social media life.” Instagram, like Twitter, is its own community. For example, on any given day if you visit Twitter you will see people talking about the same topic using hash tags and communicating with each other. Or if you visit on a Thursday night, also known as “Scandal” night, your entire timeline will be tweeting frantically about what new drama has just been stirred up on “Scandal”. Essentially Instagram is the same way, but instead of using tweets there are hash tags on IG. Instagram users also create memes. Memes are used to express feelings using pictures to allow a visual creating a greater impact. Memes were created to be entertaining, but somewhere down the line it became appropriate and entertaining to disrespect other people. When did it get to that point? Why has it gotten to that point? But before that, lets address where and with whom did memes start.

Meme has a Greek origin for the word, mīmeîsthai meaning to imitate or to copy. According to, a meme is “a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.” Memes, like previously stated, are an element of social media that has become quite a trend. But how and why are memes created? Users take a picture, whether it is funny, sad, offensive or somewhere in the middle, and insert a caption on the top and bottom of the picture. The caption is one that goes along with the picture and amplifies the mood of the photo. To make this procedure a lot easier there are several videos online to help. Below is a link by YouTube user, HowToDo, which shows you how to create a meme. HowToDo not only demonstrates how to make memes, but how to do several different tasks pertaining to computer software.
Now that we know how memes are created, why are they created? They were initially created for entertainment purposes, like stated in the definition above, that later took a turn for the worst. Gia Claybrooks, a sophomore at Howard University and a frequent Instagrammer shared her views on memes. Claybrooks stated, “Most memes are used for comical purposes, but there are some that are still offensive.” Occasionally memes poke fun, shine light on, or are offensive to real life situations or a trend that is popular. Let’s address entertaining memes first.


Take the photo above for example. This particular meme involves Jamie Foxx, a comedian, dressed up as Wanda; a character that he played in the 90’s hit comedy show “In Living Color”. The caption reads, “Chicks be like off guard but still cute.” This meme is making fun of taking photos off guard. Girls ask their friends to take photos of them “off guard”; they give a sort of variety to ones collection of Instagram photos. The meme with Jamie Foxx is making fun of the girls taking off guard photos. This picture is one that falls under the category of fun memes, but there are a huge variety of memes.

The next category of memes that should be introduced are those that are offensive and they are taking Instagram by storm. There are several offensive memes that have been shared on Instagram, but lets take the photo below for example.


The photo is a caption of Mufasa and Simba, both Disney characters, looking on in the horizon. The caption reads, “Dad, what’s ugly? I don’t know, son. We’re light skin.” While the photo is a snapshot from the innocent childhood Walt Disney movie “The Lion King”, the caption is everything but innocent. This meme can be perceived as offensive because of how it is addressing some very serious issues in the world, particularly colorism. It suggests that only light skin people are attractive, while dark skin people aren’t. This meme was shown to Andrianna Fullerton, a 19-year-old college student at Eastern Illinois University and she was not too thrilled about it. Fullerton said,” I don’t think these are funny and you see more African Americans posting this meme. We are all either dark, light, or caramel. We are all black. I think these memes are making a separation in the black community. Black is Black regardless of your shade.” The light skin dark skin debate is a conversation that is frequently addressed in the black community, especially on social media. And because not everyone can have an intellectually conscious conversation about colorism issues, they are offensive.

Honestly, whether one considers a meme funny or offensive depends on perception; everyone views memes differently. According to The Practical Fibromite, “Perception is reality. Whatever we think we see, or hear, or understand colors the reality of what is actually present.” And with that comes different views on certain subjects, in general. But when it came to memes Rhea Henderson, owner of the RH School of Performing Arts, stated, “When reading memes I now understand that for me some can be very offensive while some can just be cute little jokes. Mostly it’s all about the individual person’s perception of what they are reading and what cord it strikes for them when they are reading it.”

Now having an understanding on what memes are, the different types of memes and the idea of perception, what do you think? Are memes entertaining or offensive?

Written by Taylor Carr

My name is Taylor Carr. I am a junior public relations major, graphic design minor at Howard University. I am an aspiring event planner and entertainment publicist.

"It's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Happy Birthday Acid Rap!

RHOA Star Porsha Williams Reveals Secrets!