Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Linguistics of a Meme: Harambe and Tragedy

I was not intending to write a post like this, but I asked my friend Abbie if she wanted me to write about anything specific on my blog, and she said "Harambe". A seemingly silly request at first, but then I got thinking... what goes into creating a successful meme? Especially one that has risen out of tragedy, like Harambe has. 

If you didn't know, Harambe was a gorilla that was killed in his enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo after a 3 year old boy climbed into it and the keepers thought he was in danger. But in actual fact, all the evidence pointed towards Harambe actually protecting the little boy using instinct. So, after this terrible injustice, social media got fired up, and Harambe was made into a meme.

Memes are basically anything that goes universally viral, and there is usually some element of humour to it. So, in the face of tragedy, how has this gorilla become an international sensation?

The only way to dissect humour is to look at it seriously, which is quite ironic. We can do this by using simplified linguistics:

1. Harambe Himself

The name Harambe is, for many in the Western world, unusual. It can't really be associated with anything else that people would recognise on a global scale (unless you count the fictional village of Harambee in Disney's Animal Kingdom) and so when you say the name, you instantly make the connection to our furry friend. Not just that, but the very fact that it is an unheard name in the Western world is enough to gather a few laughs, even if it is slightly inappropriate to be making fun of a traditional African word. People can find humour in anything they don't understand. 

2. Human Error is always Mocked

The whole reason why Harambe is dead is not because he was doing anything wrong, but because humanity made a wrong judgement call in killing him. Technically, the world is not mocking Harambe for being dead, but the humans with the gun that killed him. This was seen as the wrong decision, and we all know how human failure is mocked. You only have to take a look at shows such as You've Been Framed or other shows of the same sort, that urge people to send in videos of them falling over or hurting themselves by accident, to know that human find other humans hilarious when they get things wrong. 

So no, like all things, the animal in the spotlight isn't actually the main reason for the meme spiralling, but the mother who let her child climb in the Gorilla enclosure and the person who shot Harambe, who quickly became public enemy number one. 

3. The Human Impulse to Ignore Tragedy

It is a fact that humans can't cope with tragedy very well. So, when something terrible happens, people often look for opportunities to turn a negative into a positive. It is just a way of coping, and this is the case for Harambe. Humans, even if they are meat-eaters, do not like to hear of unjustified animal death, and so turning Harambe into a meme is a modern way of honouring the dead and fighting for a cause they believe in. 

Even if it is the least they can do, humans love to feel like they are making a difference, and uniting together for a cause feels like you're changing the world. Its got a High School Musical "we're all in this together" vibe to it. And Harambe is just another example of this phenomenon. 


Okay, this was just a bit of fun, but if you look deep enough, you can find meaning in anything. Harambe is a meme, and memes will become part of history, so maybe by keeping Harambe's memory alive with humour future generations will learn not to make the same mistake as the guy who shot our poor gorilla. 


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: ... And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly spot hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and is meant to showcase the books that a blogger is anticipating in the next couple of months. Today I'm going to be talking about ... And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne.


Title: ... And a Happy New Year?
Author: Holly Bourne
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Release Date: November 1st 2016

Format Available: Hardcover
Original Language: English
Genre: Feminist Contemporary Novella


Spinster Club girls Evie, Amber and Lottie are reunited for the mother of all New Year's Eve parties. Having spent months apart since finishing college, they've got plenty to catch up on: how is Evie juggling a relationship with her OCD? Does Amber plan to spend more time with Kyle in America? And where did Lottie end up? Get ready for some serious partying - and some major New Year's revelations - from everyone's favourite cheesy-snack-loving feminists.


I know it hasn't been long since I did a Waiting on Wednesday for another Holly Bourne novel, but she just keeps knocking them out! Which is definitely not a bad thing, because she is a feminist Queen.

This is actually a novella, so it is shorter than her other novels, but it is still part of the Normal series, so will coincide with the rest of the books from the collection. I personally can't wait for this novella because I love the Spinster series and Holly's writing style in general!

I've met Holly before, and she is so lovely, as well as being a badass feminist, and has really interesting views on feminism. Hopefully this book will stick with the feminist theme (I have no doubts that it will) and it will be as brilliant as the others.

Does anyone else love the Spinster series? 

Will you be buying this novella, or just leaving it?

Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Illustrated Edition) by JK Rowling and Jim Kay

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly spot hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and is meant to showcase the books that a blogger is anticipating in the next couple of months. Today I'm going to be talking about Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Illustrated Edition by JK Rowling and Jim Kay.


Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: JK Rowling, Jim Kay
Page Count: 272
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Release Date: 4th October 2016

Format Available: Hardcover
Original Language: English
Genre: Graphic novel


Prepare to be spellbound by Jim Kay's dazzling full-colour illustrations in this stunning new edition of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Breathtaking scenes, dark themes and unforgettable characters - including Dobby and Gilderoy Lockhart - await inside this fully illustrated edition. With paint, pencil and pixels, award-winning illustrator Jim Kay conjures the wizarding world as we have never seen it before. Fizzing with magic and brimming with humour, this inspired reimagining will captivate fans and new readers alike, as Harry and his friends, now in their second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, seek out a legendary chamber and the deadly secret that lies at its heart .


I mean, do I really have to tell you why I can't wait for this to be released?

Harry Potter is pretty much the epitome of young adult fantasy books, and these illustrated versions are such a gorgeous idea. It means that the wizarding world can be accessible to an even younger audience than before, and for those of us who were there when the books first came out, we have another collectable item for our ever-growing HP collection.

Yeah, that's right, I know you have at least one wand and the scarf from your House.

The Chamber of Secrets was one of my favourite books too, so this is set to be a very exciting book for my own personal Potter collection. Prisoner of Azkaban was obviously my all time fave, so it looks like I'll have to wait another year for that one. But in the mean time, this one will do just fine.

Is anyone else excited for this beautiful second book in the series? 

Tell me in the comments below!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly spot hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and is meant to showcase the books that a blogger is anticipating in the next couple of months. Today I'm going to be talking about What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne.


Title: What's a Girl Gotta Do?
Author: Holly Bourne
Page Count: 432
Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Release Date: 1st August 2016

Format Available: Paperback
Original Language: English
Genre: Contemporary/Feminist YA


Lottie is starting a supersonic feminist experiment. For one month she's going to call out every instance of sexism she sees. But when her project hits the headlines, the trolls come out to play - and they are VICIOUS. Lottie's not a quitter, but best friends Evie and Amber are worried. What if Lottie's heading for burnout...or worse?


Holly Bourne is one of my favourite YA authors, hands down. She is the Queen of contemporary feminist literature for young people, and she manages to write important issues in her humorous writing style, which always keeps you entertained.

This is another instalment in The Normal Series or as Holly calls it, The Spinster Club. This book is in the point of view of Lottie, who is taking being a spinster to the extreme, and is trying to destroy the presence of sexism. I have no doubt that this is going to be a hilarious novel and I can't wait to see where the story goes.

I'm excited for this book because I've read Holly's books before and I really enjoy the Normal series.

Has anyone else read any of Holly's novels before?

Are you excited for this new release?

Tell me in the comments!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Thinking about Therapy

So I have been thinking about this for a while now, and I don't know what I should do.

I have been to therapy one time in my life, and I didn't like it. The thought of spilling my guts out to a stranger who I knew didn't really care and wouldn't be here if they weren't getting paid made me feel really uneasy. But then again, I don't even speak to my closest friend about things, so I've been pretty much holding things in for almost a decade.

Most of the time, I can cope with the things that I have inside my head. I have a lot of secrets, and due to the nature of them I don't ever talk about them for various reasons:

  1. My parents know most of it and understand, but can't really do anything about it
  2. I feel as though it would be pointless to tell my friends these issues for the same reason
  3. The secrets I have are life-changing and I'm not sure if I'm ready for the consequences

And most of the time, like I said, I can keep it all in and get on with my life.

But sometimes, like right now as I'm writing this, the biggest secret I hold affects me as a train going at full speed would affect a stray fox crossing the railway. 

It is always in the back of my mind, of course, and there is never a day I don't think about it, but sometimes I spend entire days thinking about it, and it just kills me. I cast the day off as ruined and either go to bed or keep my head burrowed in Youtube videos for the rest of the day. A day in this headspace is never a productive day.

And due to recent events, these days are becoming more frequent. 

This is why I have been reconsidering therapy. One of my best friends has just graduated from university with a degree in Psychology, focusing on cognitive behaviour therapy, hoping to have a career in CBT. So, I already have someone in my life who is literally qualified to listen to me. Yet I don't utilise that - I pretend everything is okay in front of him. 

Maybe it isn't the best idea to have one of your best friends as your therapist anyway, but I'm starting to think that I need one nevertheless. There is too much in my head and if I don't say it to someone I am in danger of taking it out on myself. 

Does anyone reading this go to therapy? Is it a good thing for you, or have you had bad experiences with it?

I'm not totally sure that I will end up going to therapy. Maybe I'm just desperate to tell someone my secrets and once I do I will be okay again. But for how long will I stay okay? There are things from years ago that I want to forget but I can't. 

Maybe therapy will never be for me. But I'm beginning to think that I'll have to get used to it, because I want to recover in the best way possible, and this may be a big step in recovering.