Wednesday Addams Meme

 

Description 

  • So, this week we’re going to take a look at a specific Wednesday Addams image and a set of example memes that are derived from this image. The origination of this macro image comes from the movie Addams Family Values, sequel to The Addams Family. Both films are, by far, the best adaptations of Charles Addams’ cartoon series–The Addams Family. The film came out in 1993 and was once again directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. It was written by Charles Addams (characters’ creator) and Paul Rudnick; Christina Ricci is Wednesday Addams. The screenshot for the original image happens approximately 22 minutes into the movie. Wednesday is an unwilling participant at summer camp, and after being introduced to a few of the more obnoxious personality types decides a sip of poison is needed–a relatable reaction. The facial expression (just before uncorking the bottle) is one of contempt for those around her and maybe even a little “kill me now” reaction at finding herself in such a preposterous environment. The following video not only shows the movie clip where the image was captured, but it also shows a couple of moments leading up to the sip of poison. At first, I was annoyed that I couldn’t find a more precise clip but then after watching it a couple times, I decided it would aid in the exploration of the chosen artifacts. Enjoy: The Addams Family Values “Why are you dressed like somebody died” scene.

Notes on content 

  • The example memes chosen are not things Wednesday says in the movie, nor are they based on scenes from the movie.
  • The example memes all derive from Wednesday’s facial expression in this particular image, which is contemptuous and antagonistic.
  • When the Addams Family cartoon first appeared in The New Yorker, Wednesday had no name. It wasn’t until the 1964 TV adaptation that Charles Addams gave her the name, based on a line from a nursery rhyme: “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” Because Christina Ricci so effectively plays a woeful Wednesday, the image macros will almost always contain a gloom and doom tone and style.
  • Just because Wednesday is a child, does not mean the artifacts will be devoid of adult topics.

Notes on form

  • Screenshot from a movie clip.
  • Can be found in non-animated form or gif form; I’ve chosen examples in non-animated form.
  • Since the character of Wednesday Addams originated in cartoon form, the original image and example memes would be considered a live-action form, as brought to life by the actress Christina Ricci.
  • Wednesday Addams is just as iconic a character as her mother, thus identifiable to many and relatable to some.
  • Genres: Gothic, black comedy, fantasy, horror

Notes on stance

  • Participation structure
    • Wednesday giving a sidelong glance of contempt to the campy camp counselors (probably Amanda and her ridiculous parents as well) right before uncorking a bottle of poison. She’s looking hostile, antagonistic.
  • Keying
    • observation
  • Tone: mocking–dark humor
  • Style: descriptive
  • Register: adult, adolescent, amateur
  • Communication function
    • Emotive: The example memes exist because of the look on Wednesday’s face in the original image.

Memeticness

This is the original image; there are no variations–yet.

Specify the kind of variation

  • none

Memetic features 

  • original image
  • isolated screenshot taken from the movie The Addams Family Values
  • creative potential for this image originates from the expression on Wednesday’s face, just before raising a bottle of poison to her lips
  • Isolated screenshot is simple. “Simplicity is an important attribute contributing to the creation of user-generated versions of the meme” (Shifman, 2014).

Does this meme show other features that spur memetic development, or features that seem to put an end to development? No.

Genre 

  • Gothic fiction
  • Black comedy
  • Horror

It’s Wednesday

Description 

  • This artifact merges a cropped version of the original image of Wednesday with a dialogue box above it.
  • Text in dialogue box is a simple, black font with a plain, white background.
  • Text added to image macro is a simple, white font.
  • Image macro contains a nondescript copyright watermark.
  • Unsure as to whether this is the original image macro, however it is the most generated.
  • Does not connect or relate to other derivations other than text style and font color; it is the only one of its kind that I came across.

Notes on content 

  • The top image contains dialogue with the signal tag, “boss.” Caption reads–Boss: “This is the third time you’ve been late to work this week. Do you know what that means?”
  • Directly above the bottom macro image of Wednesday (our original image) is the signal tag–“me,” with text identical to the top macro image. It could be described as part of the top image as the macro image is directly under the tag. The response caption is positioned directly on the macro image and reads–“It’s Wednesday?”
    • In this second derivative, Wednesday is the speaker, however, the signal tag is “me.” This tells us that the sharer/participant of the derivative and Wednesday, are one in the same.

Notes on form

  • Construction of artifact and software used is undetermined. Editing software was clearly used to add a dialogue box to the macro image: photo collage app (such as Typorama) or computer editing software (possibly, Photoshop) are 2 possibilities.
    • Although software is undetermined, I did search @stupidresumes and found that it’s an Instagram account (Aaron af). Many of the memes presented on this account resemble this artifact. This, however, does not necessarily give @stupidresumes an exclusive copyright–creative rights, perhaps.
  • Text is placed on a white background in first image to draw the reader in. Text is placed on macro image so as to not obscure Wednesday’s facial expression (the inspiration for the captions added) and deliver the punchline. Genre: comedy, satire–I stand by this as the artifact is poking fun at human shortcomings.

Notes on stance

  • Participation structure
    • Participants: the universal boss, Wednesday, creator of artifact, the distributor of artifact
    • The macro image is a visual representation of the creator’s indifference to his/her boss’s displeasure. The fact that the boss is neither identifiable by image nor title, affords the artifact an interchangeability thus personalizing it for rhetor and audience.
    • The distributors of this artifact are those who find Wednesday’s inability to get to work on time relatable and her smart ass (albeit accurate) response triumphant. I am one of those people.
    • Possible manner in which this artifact is distributed: wishful thinking on how to answer bosses question to repeated lateness.
  • Keying
    • Tone: sarcastic, humorous
    • Style: narrative
    • Register: adult, teen, amateur, professional
  • Communication function
  • Poetic. Reflexive.

Memeticness

In this derivative, Wednesday’s expression can be interpreted as unrepentant and/or indifferent. This, however, does not exclude the interpreted emotion of the original macro image–contemptuous and antagonistic–it simply depends on the distributor and audience. Nevertheless, only with the combination of images and captions, can the audience be guided to this conclusion.

Specify the kind of variation

  • This is a remix of the original image. Here, we have a dialogue box (image 1) above the macro image. The top image consists of a signal tag followed by dialogue. Then we have the original image of Wednesday (cropped for a closeup of her expression) responding to the first speaker. The signal tag for the response, however, indicates that the speaker is both Wednesday and rhetor. The top frame presents the dialogue of a displeased boss confronting Wednesday/rhetor. The bottom frame is a combination of Wednesday’s expression (interpreted as indifferent) and text that infers Wednesday is showing unconcerned with the boss’s authoritative stance with a sarcastic reply. The fact that this derivative is delivering a message to “stick it to the man” is both relatable and shareable to any viewer/sharer who may chafe at the confines of a 9-to-5 work environment.

Memetic features 

  • Provoking “high arousal” emotions: This memes “stick it to the man” message encourages a “hell yeah” from the reader, thus having the potential to arouse emotionally and spur them into sharing the content.
  • Superiority: Shifman (2014) explains the superiority theory to interpret laughter as an expression of the pleasant experience of one-upmanship. In this derivative, Wednesday/rhetor is implementing this by giving a sarcastic response to an authoritative figure. This one-upmanship is, therefore, a humorous and pleasant experience for anyone who finds this scenario relatable.
  • Humor: I would consider this to be situational humor.

Does this meme show other features that spur memetic development, or features that seem to put an end to development? Yes–Parody? Satire? Nastiness? Yes to all. Essentially, any situation where an authoritative figure asks a question that can be answered by Wednesday/rhetor with “it’s Wednesday” is a winner, thus shareable.

Genre 

  • Reaction Photoshop: In this derivative, the original image (Wednesday) has been Photoshopped in with another macro image (dialogue box) and she is reacting to what the boss is addressing. It’s possible that I’m oversimplifying here, and quite possibly missing the mark altogether as per Shifman’s (2014) description of reaction Photoshop, but I stand by it.

Everyday is Wednesday

Description 

  • Dual use of image–split screen–side-by-side comparison
  • Text is added using a simple black font above both images
  • That’s it, really–identical images side-by-side with 2 different dates, only a day apart.
  • Does not connect or relate to other derivations.

Notes on content 

  • Original image includes text that, doesn’t mimic other meme captions, nor does it duplicate text style. Caption on left side reads: “September 30th.” Caption on right side reads: “October 1st.” In this derivative, there appears to be no identifiable speaker. This meme, I feel, misses the mark for being identifiable/relatable.

Notes on form

  • Construction of artifact and software used is undetermined. Editing software was used to make a collage of 2 identical macro images while keeping the 2 original images unaltered: photo collage app (such as Pic Collage) or computer editing software (possibly, Photoshop) are 2 possibilities.
  • Text is placed above both images within the border. Genre: Is this an attempt at satire? Or have the satirical tables been turned onto the creator? (Making fun to show a weakness at attempted humor or “being cool”.)

Notes on stance

  • Participation structure
    • The creators and distributors of this meme are presumably Wednesday Addams fans. I also believe that they have missed the mark with this derivative. For that reason, I believe others who may redistribute this artifact could possibly interpret it to mean “whether it’s Labor Day month or Halloween month, I look the same. Or maybe, “every day is Wednesday, for me.”
  • Keying
    • Tone: I’ll reluctantly say humor–definitely informal
    • Style: Funny? Ironic?–perhaps
    • Register: adult, adolescent, amateur
  • Communication function
    • Metalingual: “used to establish mutual agreement on the code”. The creator is presumably making some attempt at this through this derivative’s side-by-side comparison.
    • Humor. Although, it’s my opinion that this derivative is more of a head-scratcher.

Memeticness

This derivative ineffectively communicates to the reader. What exactly it is falling short of communicating, I have yet to clarify thus the head-scratching. Let’s just go off my hunch that the creator has attempted to communicate to the reader the message of “Labor Day month or Halloween month–doesn’t matter because every day is Halloween, to me.” If this is, in fact, the intention of the creator, then I must point out a more effective way to communicate this would be captions of “October 31st” on image 1 and “November 1st” on image 2. To me, this clearly communicates–“Halloween or the day after, doesn’t matter, every day is Halloween.” See the distinction?

Specify the kind of variation

  • Going off of Shifman’s (2014) descriptions, this would be identified as a remix (original image is duplicated and text is added). However, if we go off of my descriptions, this artifact would be identified as something else. Failed attempt comes to mind.

Memetic features 

  • Simple Packaging: Shifman (2014) says, ” . . . when people understand something quickly and intuitively they are happy to forward it to others.” Visually, this derivative fits the description perfectly. However, the added text combined with Wednesday’s expression (which, in this case, is “wth” in its interpretation), gives the participant an unclear message.
  • Humor: According to Shifman (2014): ” . . . humorous content may be particularly shareable as it tends to be surprising.” This may indeed be true for some who come across this derivative, however, the fact that anyone could get a chuckle out of this artifact is what I find surprising. Does this meme show other features that spur memetic development, or features that seem to put an end to development? Yes. Although I believe there is hope for the continued circulation of this meme, it comes by way of a remake–change the dates to make a direct connection with Halloween. Otherwise, in its current form, circulation of this derivative is doomed.

Genre 

I still say that this artifact turned the satirical knife on itself and stuck it in.

The Wednesday Look

Description 

  • Single use of images
  • Text is added using a simple white font.
  • Font indicates this artifact was created with a meme generator.
  • Does not necessarily connect or relate to other derivations other than text style and font color.

Notes on content 

  • Original image now includes text: “I’m not in a bad mood, this is how I look.” Wednesday is the speaker. This seems to be a tamer version of the “resting bitch face” reference: a sullen or scowling expression attributed to or unconsciously adopted by a person when in repose. For people who have been told to “smile” or “try looking happy” or asked “why are you mad”, this meme is identifiable/relatable.

Notes on form

  • Although this meme was made with an online meme generator, which one is unknown.
  • Text is placed on image so as to not obscure Wednesday’s facial expression (the inspiration for the caption added). Genre: Gothic, humor, communication.
  • This form is the most typical when creating a meme.

Notes on stance

  • Participation structure
    • The participants in the creation and distribution of this meme are not only fans of Wednesday Addams, but more than likely have had their normal, everyday expressions confused with being in a bad mood–or worse. For instance, I find this derivative relatable thus shareable.
  • Keying
    • Tone: condescending, humor
    • Style: descriptive, informative
    • Register: adult, teen, amateur
  • Communication function
    • Emotive: “oriented toward the addresser and his or her emotions” (Shifman, 2014, p. 40).
    • Phatic: “which serves to establish, prolong, or discontinue communication” (Shifman, 2014, p. 40). In this derivative, it serves to continue communication.

Memeticness

In this derivative, Wednesday’s expression can be interpreted as indifferent, even a little annoyed. This inference is successful because of the added text.

Specify the kind of variation

  • Remake: This is a remake of the original image. By including text at the bottom of the macro image the creator of the meme delivers a come back to the implied question. The action is condescending. The subject is the addressee. And the end result is the shared satisfaction with the given response by the creator, distributor, and viewer.

Memetic features 

  • Simplicity: this derivative is a remake of the original image by simply adding text. Both the character of Wednesday and the concept of “resting bitch face” are known, thus this meme is relatable and shareable.
  • Packaging: this derivative is clear and simple. Shifman (2014) believes this makes the artifact “more ‘shareable’ since people understand them quickly and assume that others will decode them easily as well.”
  • Superiority: I defend this by pointing out that the creator/viewer/sharer is not displaying superiority over Wednesday, but rather, it is Wednesday displaying superiority over the addressee. The satisfaction the creator/viewer/sharer experiences, as a result, can be described as a “one-upmanship”, thus superior.
  • Humor: “humorous content may be particularly sharable as it tends to be surprising” (Shifman, 2014, p. 67). This derivative has Wednesday responding to the implied question: “I’m not in a bad mood, this is just how I look” and that’s funny.

Does this meme show other features that spur memetic development, or features that seem to put an end to development? Yes. Wednesday’s expression paired with this particular caption has the potential to spur memetic development through variations of response. For example: “When people think you’re mad, but really just thinking about pizza.” It’s funny, relatable thus shareable.

Genre 

  • Stock character macro image: the original image used for this derivative is a screenshot of a character in a movie. Therefore, I’m saying that the macro image fits in the stock character category because the original image can be found as a stock macro on a meme generating website.
  • Gothic, humor, communicative

Wednesday and Mean Girls

Description 

  • This derivative amuses me (in a derisive-sort-of-way or with an insert eye roll here kind of reaction). Here, we have the “popular” girls (AKA the Mean Girls) turning the tables on the “outcast” (Wednesday) in an attempt (that can only be described as) trying to transform the paranormal into the normal. I find it hard to believe that the creator of this derivative is a fan of Wednesday Addams. Hell, I’ll even take it one further and say that the creator has no idea who they’re dealing with when it comes to making over “Wednesday’s woeful child.”

Notes on content 

The original image replaces Lindsey Lohan’s character in this macro image. This in itself is a vast improvement to the derivative. Original Mean Girls image found here. You know, just to show how ridiculous this concept truly is. There is no caption because clearly, the message is coming across loud and clear–the “mean/popular” girls are giving Wednesday a makeover so she’ll fit in. I feel like another eye roll should go here. In this derivative, the speaker is unknown, although loudly implied. Ideologies? Be a norm! Conform! I don’t know really, but it does seem to fit the self-righteous non-verbal content.

Notes on form

This artifact is clearly the work of Photoshop. As mentioned earlier, the original image of Wednesday has replaced Lindsey Lohan’s character in the original Mean Girls image.

Notes on stance

  • Participation structure
    • I believe the participants and creators of this meme consider themselves to be “popular” or part of the “in crowd”. Wouldn’t it be funny if this meme was created as paybacks for the “You can’t sit with us” meme? Funny only because “they” so epically failed with their choice of delivery. Tsk. Tsk.
  • Keying
    • Tone: egotistical, farcical
    • Style: ironic, mocking
    • Register: adult, teen, amateur hour
  • Communication function
    • Conative: oriented toward the addressee and available paths of actions–orientated toward “popular/mean” psycho girls “helping” the misfits–fit–in.
    • There’s no way this is metalingual (used to establish mutual agreement). Otherwise, I’d have to acknowledge those that would agree with this derivative. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Memeticness

I believe we can interpret this artifact one of 2 ways: “popular/mean” girls taking on a “project” because they’re vapid individuals who believe those who don’t assimilate, should be assimilated (turn the paranormal girl into a normal girl and she’ll finally be happy). Or this is the “popular/mean” girls feeble–feeble attempt at a “payback” for the “You can’t sit with us” memes. Either way–laughable.

Specify the kind of variation

  • Remix of the macro image of Wednesday (Photoshopped onto another image) and also an imitation (macro image of Wednesday is replacing another in the altered image of the Mean Girls derivative.)

Memetic features 

  • Incongruous humor: The very idea that the popular/mean girls could successfully transform Wednesday Addams into one of them is not only an “unexpected cognitive encounter” (Shifman 2014), it’s absurd.
  • Frozen motion: Shifman (2014) describes this as “a simple explanation for the extensive memetic reactions that such photos generate is that they tend to capture people in a somewhat ludicrous posture.” I feel no need to parse this explanation.
  • Juxtaposition: “a striking incongruity between two or more elements in the frame” (Shifman 2014).

Genre 

  • Photoshop: Doesn’t exactly fit Shifman’s (2014) genre example of “reaction photoshop”, however, this macro image has clearly been altered with some sort of photo editing software.
  • Other possible genres: I’ve used this one before and I believe it fits here as well–absurdist.
Next: Week Two–Wednesday Addams Rhetorical Analysis. Good times.

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