[ View the story "Meme-ifying black interviewees" on Storify] Meme-ifying black interviewees From Antoine Dodson to Charles Ramsey, memes straddle the line between humor and stereotypes.
The Stream· Thu, May 16 2013 10:34:32
Below is the interview of Charles Ramsey that sparked his online celebrity.
Charles Ramsey Interview, Cleveland Man That Found Amanda Berrycollectivecheckup
The following snapshot from Topsy Analytic shows online mentions of Charles Ramsey a few days after his interview aired.
Charles Ramsey viralAJstream
This Amanda Berry story is incredible but does it make me a bad person that I'm more fascinated by Charles Ramsey?Arash Markazi
Online parodies and memes followed:
The remixed videos and memes sparked a discussion about race, class, and their role in the proliferation of viral videos online.
T-Paining Too Much: The Meme-ification of Charles Ramseyilldoc1
Seriously, the Charles Ramsey interviews or 911 call isn't that funny. But hey...making a mockery of Black folk on TV is what's hot.™M∆rcus
there are a lot of ugly race politics that go into these "funny" memes. charles ramsey is just another example. he can't just be a hero.beenanas
The self designed rules of classism allow us to find Charles Ramsey funny. There is nothing funny about him, he is simply brave.Blackgirlinmaine
Some have identified previous examples of remixes to illustrate a disturbing trend of black interviewees being turned into viral sensations:
Fidel Martinez of The Daily Dot compared the creation of Charles Ramsey remixes to a
modern-day minstrel show
. In particular, Martinez notices similarities with the
parody and the following video:
Blackface Minstrel Show Sand Danceikachina
pointed to reasons beyond race as their reason for sharing. Some disagreed outright with the notion that race played a role.
Charles Ramsey is famous cuz he was candid, honest, and funny in a TV interview. That's it, no racism here.Black
's @ConnorSimpson says Charles Ramsey is "a meme because he's black and poor." No. It's because he's funny.Dylan Stableford
if you think we shouldn't laugh with charles ramsey b/c you think he doesn't know he's funny, who's the prejudiced one?Marc Masters
Real Talk, Charles Ramsey is not Antoine Dodson, he's a hero and was actually speaking some serious truth, no matter how funny it was.Tim Mack
A few days after the rescue, the blog
The Smoking Gun
uncovered Ramsey's criminal past, including previous convictions of domestic violence.
One Twitter user had seen it coming:
Is it just me or is Charles Ramsey a Hero but have a funny feeling we about to find some dirty about the homie.Hope he is ready for it.Michael Shawn
Others thought that digging into Ramsey's past is rooted in racism:
They're digging up Charles Ramsey's past to discredit him saving 3 kidnapped girls.....y'all already know why, right? Ok, good.Phillip Henry
Some1 couldn't deal with the fact that a "hero" could look like charles ramsey and not brad pitt. That is the reason his past is an issueESQ/MBA
Charles Ramsey's criminal record and checkered past is completely irrelevant. It should not be part of the story.Touré
The backlash was enough to cause
WEWS NewsChannel 5
, a Cleveland news station, to issue an apology for covering the story:
<div>TO OUR READERS & FOLLOWERS: We heard you. Wednesday night, we made a poor judgment call in posting a story about Charles Ramsey’s criminal record and how he’s since reformed. While the story was factually sound, the timing of it and publication of such information was not in good taste, and we regret it. Your comments prompted us to quickly remove the story from our website and Facebook page, but we know we can’t erase what we’ve already done. Ramsey is a hero for his actions, and we recognize that. Thank you so much for your feedback.</div>
Some netizens shared the following meme in response to the media portrayal of Ramsey:
The attention placed on Charles Ramsey instead of the three victims was a point of discussion:
@AJStream They may but in this specific case they were used to take away the attention from the real issue-kidnapping+abuse of ppl for yearsDarakshan
People are talking about Charles Ramsey but is anyone paying attention to the real story 3 women were held in captivity for 10 years !!!Heart of a runner
It really is a shame that Charles Ramsey will forever be looked at as "the funny interview" rather than the hero that saved 3 women's livesJoey Durr
This screenshot of Google trends shows more searches for Ramsey than for Amanda Berry, one of the three women saved:
The Stream asked its online community if they thought memes like those of Charles Ramsey were lighthearted snapshots of pop culture or racist caricatures of African Americans. Responses varied:
racist? caricature? why are you making something out of nothing?Charles Efe Oyibo
Is it racist if the memes' source also pokes fun of whites and politicians (i.e. Gregory Brothers)? If we stepped outside the traditional box of viewing race everywhere we go, we'd see these memes are more classist than racist, making fun of lower-income and thus perhaps less-educated people, more of whom just happen to be black than white.Mikey Barnum
it's a little of both.Joey Schüler