Last night I read my good friend Shaun Rainey’s blog post on why he enjoys the Griz-Cat football rivalry so much. One of the reasons why he looks forward to it is a relatively new concept that in my opinion has completely invigorated not just the Brawl of the Wild but rather every single rivalry in the nation. For probably just a couple years now this new yet simple form of media has helped fight against the unoriginality and cliché driven nature that had started to define many of these passionate head to head battles across the country.
I am talking memes.
Memes? Yes! As in the basic presentation of a picture accompanied by a line or two of user generated text that conveys a joke, insult, or point. Back in the day we would just call them picture captions. But with the proliferation of the internet and social media combined with the specific physical appearance of such images, we have entered the fancy term of “meme” into our lexicon.
At this time I can’t necessarily say that overall I am a big time lover of memes. While I always got a laugh out of the Willy Wonka ones, I find many of the ecard and mass generated poorly developed memes stupid. However, I do appreciate many of the memes that poke fun at a certain side of big time rivalries. Not only do they deliver a good laugh but they have helped to break up a streak of lameness that started to run rampant.
I would always get up for rivalry weeks but I started to really dread friends, bloggers, message board users, and social media addicts who thought they were funny by reciting or posting generic jokes that poked fun at the other school. I am talking about the jokes that went like this: “How do you get a graduate of ___________ University off of your porch? Pay him for the pizza.” Or this: “What are the longest three years of a ___________ University student’s life? Freshman year.” Or this: “How do you keep a ____________football player off your yard? Put up a goal post.”
Not only are the above jokes very old and practically not even funny anymore but they are completely unoriginal. They can apply to every single school in every single rivalry. There is absolutely no personalization or cleverness with them. But for some reason people would still tell them and still post them. You would get an e-mail that said “Oregon jokes” or you would see a thread on a message board that said “Montana State jokes” and you would read them and they would contain the exact same stories and one liners, the only thing changed was the name of the school. How stupid. They really weren’t Oregon jokes or Montana State jokes, they were just recycled rivalry jokes.
I welcomed sport rivalry memes with open arms. Finally there was something that channeled the creative juices of fans and enabled them to think up some very cunning and very funny jokes. Memes center completely on a photo so you must find an image that is specific to one of the schools in the rivalry. Once you have a unique photo you are going to go the distance to create a unique caption. You aren’t going to ruin a good photo with a terrible clichéd one liner. Instead you are going to think up something so that the second someone looks at the meme they are going to fall over laughing.
Although I started to see the positive change last year, I have immensely enjoyed the explosion of rivalry memes this year. The increase of memes has brought the decrease of the terrible jokes. People no longer have time for that garbage. Fans are now hungry for clever visual jokes that poke fun at the culture and ways of the rival school. During this Griz-Cat week I have seen some hilarious memes from both sides. Naturally some do cross the line but for the most part it is spirited, passionate fun. Don’t get stuck resorting to the unoriginal and overdone. Instead embrace the new avenues available to bring fresh laughs to rivalry week. Don’t Blink.