Notes from a burning room
May 5, 2016 8:19 PM   Subscribe

KC Green, the artist behind the "this is fine" meme, talks about its origin and meaning.
posted by Artw (54 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
"There's still hope" as one of the reasons the first two panels is more popular than the whole thing is a pretty astute observation.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:32 PM on May 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


Boy, am I out of the loop! I used to think a "meme" was a meme. Turns out, as my 25-year old daughter explained to me, a "meme" is a viral picture with a caption.
posted by kozad at 8:33 PM on May 5, 2016 [13 favorites]


I'm okay with the events that are currently unfolding.
posted by Artw at 8:45 PM on May 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


Some days I feel like this comic (the whole thing, which I saw early on) is just on replay in my head.

Seems to be happening more often as we get closer to November.
posted by wintersweet at 8:47 PM on May 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


Huh. I've never seen this before.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:54 PM on May 5, 2016


Huh. I've never seen this before.

This is fine.
posted by deadaluspark at 8:57 PM on May 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


That's okay, things are going to be okay.
posted by Artw at 8:58 PM on May 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


A bunch of Gunshow comics, including this one, were animated by Adult Swim and aired as station IDs.
posted by edeezy at 9:04 PM on May 5, 2016


and it's in the article cool
posted by edeezy at 9:05 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Odd difference - his little hat doesn't catch fire.
posted by Artw at 9:06 PM on May 5, 2016


Whoa, the animated version was done by Shmorky, who also did How Is Babby Formed. It's a small internet!
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:07 PM on May 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


"There's still hope" as one of the reasons the first two panels is more popular

To me it's that the whole joke is contained in the first two panels. It's his cognitive dissonance encapsulated. Him melting isn't a twist because it doesn't take us anywhere we didn't understand at the top, so to me you don't need it.
posted by little onion at 9:10 PM on May 5, 2016 [41 favorites]


Gunshow is truly weird and wonderful. I'm glad he's doing well. Fine, I mean. I mean, I'm glad everything's ok. Glad he-- oh you know what I mean.
posted by gwint at 9:10 PM on May 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


kozad are you the online alter ego of my professor who spent part of today's lecture explaining memes a la Dawkins, and then confessed "I know memes mean something different now. I have a daughter in her 20s and apparently this isn't the common understanding of what a meme is? I don't really understand."

Because if you are, my classmate's explanation that "a meme is like a picture of a very fat cat laying back with a caption that says 'I like pizza'" was an absolutely terrible definition, and I'm sure my other classmate adding "...but with more Ryan Gosling" didn't clarify things any. Sorry about that.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:12 PM on May 5, 2016 [17 favorites]


This comic is forever tied to the 2014 Ferguson riots in my mind, because that's when I first encountered it and shared it (all panels, not the two-panel version.) It has a very different meaning in that context, I think. Less something I personally identify with or an understandable reaction of hope, and more the idea that everyone is trying to do their best to go about their nice comfortable lives and ignore the GIANT UGLY CATASTROPHE that is unfolding and that we're all complicit in to some degree. Maybe that's a lot of heavy stuff to associate with a comic from the creator of Dickbutt. Who knows? But I have a feeling the resonance of it is tied up in that particular zeitgeist.
posted by naju at 9:19 PM on May 5, 2016 [9 favorites]


This is how I feel about the Trump thread.
posted by benzenedream at 9:20 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I thought all internet memes were Dawkins memes but not all Dawkins memes are internet memes.
posted by I-baLL at 9:20 PM on May 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


He's responsible for This Is Fine, Dick Butt, AND Staredad?

KC Green is one mean meme machine.
posted by chimaera at 9:33 PM on May 5, 2016 [15 favorites]


What you guys (or rather, your kids) described is more correctly an image macro.
posted by Harald74 at 9:51 PM on May 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


(For a certain view on "correctness", that is...)
posted by Harald74 at 9:51 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: This is fine.
posted by davel at 10:07 PM on May 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


while we're grumping about how "meme" now means "picture with text on it" can anyone explain to me when "aesthetic" came to refer to mean "artistic," or alternately refer to a vaguely defined yet specific aesthetic

I mean, I blame tumblr, but I'm looking for something more specific to focus my pedantry on
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:22 PM on May 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


One of my good friends is an historian for the U.S. House of Representatives. While he clearly loves being able to ply his trade in such an "on-paper" prestigious way, it's also maddening, both in the things he's asked to research (like Paul Ryan's office asking when the last time was that the Speaker sported a beard) and more importantly in feeling like the official Cassandra, watching everything falling apart around him right now while none of the people asking him for anything care about anything actually important in the chaos currently erupting in America.

This meme, and the repeated mantra "nothing matters," are the two that we see from him most often right now. Especially this week.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:31 PM on May 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


OED offers "of a thing: in accordance with the principles of good taste; beautiful" as definition B3 of aesthetic. Mid 19th century. So... maybe blame the Aesthetics? They certainly would have been on Tumblr if given the opportunity.
posted by No-sword at 10:31 PM on May 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


It is about hope to the extent that something could be done. But nothing will be.
posted by wotsac at 10:38 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]




Regarding the defining of meme, you gotta think the founders of meme pool wish they'd held on just a bit longer. They'd be rich now, filthy rich.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:39 PM on May 5, 2016


I think it's funny that the word meme was redefined because a lot of people thought they could determine the meaning of a word from context, and they were all wrong in precisely the same way.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 12:16 AM on May 6, 2016 [13 favorites]


I think DoctorFedora means something like this? it's a shorthand for "this is my aesthetic". maybe at some point for 5 minutes in 2011 it was used seriously but it immediately got abstracted into people claiming increasingly specific, impractical, or bizarre imagery as their aesthetic. It reached its apex here.
posted by Krom Tatman at 1:17 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


The definition of meme mutated in such a way that the new definition outcompeted the old definition in the minds of the world, thereby effectively replacing it. It was more fit for its environment in a sense.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:54 AM on May 6, 2016 [21 favorites]


The animation reminds me of just how much I love Dana Snyder.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:05 AM on May 6, 2016


I think it's funny that the word meme was redefined because a lot of people thought they could determine the meaning of a word from context, and they were all wrong in precisely the same way.

*blink blink*


*stares at ceiling for forty five minutes*
posted by louche mustachio at 3:40 AM on May 6, 2016 [17 favorites]


I remember back in the old Livejournal days when a "meme" was a quiz or survey that you would take because your Livejournal friends were doing it; things like "Here is a web site's list of the best 100 SF books; bold the ones you've read," or "Give me a letter, and I'll tell you three things I love that start with that letter." And if a meme refers to "any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator," well - it's pretty hard to argue that this kind of thing rises to the level of "cultural entity," but they sure did replicate. I have no idea when or how "meme" first made the leap to LJ surveys, but it's pretty easy to see how they could have come to mean "a specific fragment of internet culture that is passed on through social media" before latching on to image macros more specifically.

(Surveys like this are still pretty common on Tumblr, mostly in the form of lists of questions that you hope your friends will ask you to answer, but of course no one calls them memes.)

Whenever I see this comic I think about the Buddhist parable of the burning house, to the extent that I wondered if it was an intentional reference. (Likewise with "Synecdoche, New York.") Even if it's not intentional, I always liked that about it - how it can equally be about any specific terrible thing you're living in denial of, or the general on-fire quality of existing in the world.
posted by Jeanne at 4:13 AM on May 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


KC appears to be a nice guy who I think has to constantly yell at people for trying to put his stuff on their stuff without paying him (between "this is fine" and dickbutt he has his hands full), which based on his Twitter account gets to him some days.

here's a lets play he did with Chip Cheezum of a terrible duck dynasty game in case you wanted to watch that sort of thing.
posted by dismas at 5:32 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just like in biology, a meme is something that spreads rapidly and uncontrollably by going viral.
posted by straight at 6:25 AM on May 6, 2016


You can buy an official shirt of this

Is not $22 (+ shipping) a lot to pay for a t-shirt, even with IP on it? And yet, I want that shirt.
posted by jabah at 6:33 AM on May 6, 2016


My favorite variation of this is the dog saying "This is lit" instead. KC hates it I'm sure.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:34 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thus the phrase, "It's in our DNA for our memes to go viral."
posted by straight at 6:46 AM on May 6, 2016


I'm glad he's been able to extract some money from all this.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 6:48 AM on May 6, 2016


Boy, am I out of the loop! I used to think a "meme" was a meme. Turns out, as my 25-year old daughter explained to me, a "meme" is a viral picture with a caption.

That's pretty much the deal. Dawkins' very clever and useful coinage has been thoroughly effaced by the word's later meaning of a stock picture with gag text. So it goes!
posted by thelonius at 6:55 AM on May 6, 2016


thelonius: "So it goes!"

Survival of the finest!
posted by chavenet at 7:05 AM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


So is "memes aren't actually memes" a meme?
posted by dephlogisticated at 7:16 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


So is "memes aren't actually memes" a meme?

No, and neither is Milhouse.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:30 AM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I actually have that shirt. 99% of the time it gets me odd or confused looks. Once in a blue moon someone comes up to me with wide eyes to tell me they obsessively love my shirt and need to know where I got it, and it amuses me every time. Mostly they know the image from Tumblr or wherever, but sometimes it's someone who doesn't know the meme or comic at all, but just likes happy coffee-drinking dogs on fire.
posted by Stacey at 7:31 AM on May 6, 2016


a dangerous ruin: "I think it's funny that the word meme was redefined because a lot of people thought they could determine the meaning of a word from context, and they were all wrong in precisely the same way."

Is there a linguistics term for this? It's like an eggcorn approached from the direction of meaning rather than pronunciation.
posted by RobotHero at 8:36 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


"well - it's pretty hard to argue that this kind of thing rises to the level of "cultural entity," but they sure did replicate"

I would say that it's obviously a cultural entity. When I see Dickbutt or This is Fine or Pepe or the Feels guy then I know exactly what it's referencing and understand its use. It's a part of the giant hodge podge of inter culture (or, dare I say, "cyberculture"?)

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.
posted by I-baLL at 9:59 AM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Maybe that's a lot of heavy stuff to associate with a comic from the creator of Dickbutt.

I don't think so! Dickbutt itself originated from a comic where the author was chastising himself for not creating something deeper and more important than making silly lewd pictures. I like that the popularity of Dickbutt kind of acts as a metaphor for the original idea behind Dickbutt.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:37 AM on May 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm glad meme means a different word now, because eff Richard Dawkins
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:54 AM on May 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm confused on this whole linguistic discussion because if a meme is a general unit of culture that serves as a shorthand, are not 'image macros' or 'internet memes' a clear example of this? cf: "When I see Dickbutt or This is Fine or Pepe or the Feels guy then I know exactly what it's referencing and understand its use"

Unless you're calling the entire phenomenon of internet image macros One Meme.
posted by a halcyon day at 12:04 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, they're all individual memes, some danker than others.
posted by I-baLL at 1:29 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


a halcyon day: "that serves as a shorthand, "

Where did you get the idea that a meme needs to serve as a shorthand?
posted by RobotHero at 5:36 PM on May 6, 2016


Any successful communication of an idea inherently requires a shared lexicon and cultural environment; to understand a meme is to be familiar with the climate in which it germinated. It is therefore a shorthand.

Otherwise you just see a misshapen cartoon phallus or a coffee-drinking dog on fire.
posted by a halcyon day at 6:52 PM on May 6, 2016


But you were trying to connect the "image macros" to the original meaning of "meme" and I don't think "serves as a shorthand" was part of that original meaning.
posted by RobotHero at 7:31 PM on May 6, 2016




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