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Analysis of a Meme: The Successful Black Man


            Throughout the course of humanity, man has been on the conquest of forcing their ideals and opinions on to others.  One of the pleasurable outcomes of this phenomena is the art of entertainment.  In the years of before, this art was held only to the elite few.  With the rise of the web, however, the everyman was allowed to voice their opinion and ideals through entertainment more readily.   One form of this entertainment, highly prevalent in the late teenage to early adult demographic, is the Meme.   Although when we hear the term meme, we commonly imagine a picture with two lines of text, a meme says much more.  A meme is the continuation of an idea or style from one person to another within a culture.  With the aid of the web, a simple picture with two lines of text is able to flow through our culture, spreading ideas ranging from simplistic humor and complex wit, to dark thoughts and confessions with a bit cheery life.  The meme is able to do this so perfectly with the smooth balance of relevance, message, and a visual aid.  In this analysis, I will observe how this is achieved in relation to the meme in general, and in specific, The Successful Blackman. 

            Each and every meme contains a visual aid, typically a stock photo.  These stock photos are over-laid by the text.  The visual aid may or may not be relevant to the message of the meme, but instead provides the basis for the name of the meme.  For example, Bears really have nothing to do with the confessions within the messages yet, the guilty face of a bear provides a title fitting for the meme.  On the other hand, The Successful Black man visual aid, a professionally attired black man, relates directly to both the title and message of the meme.  The visual aid acts as a guardian between the message and relevance that keep the meme flowing powerfully through the cable wires. 

            Within a culture it is the natural order for individuals to condense into various groups held together by nodal points.  A meme can be viewed as one of these nodal points, within a viral culture.  For example, Bad Luck Brian is able to provide a beacon for all individuals sharing the common trait of a bout of bad luck, allowing a connection to develop.  The Successful Black man meme, a meme with obviously strong racially stereotypically based humor, provides relevance to an immense demographic; for many have        


experienced racial stereotyping in one form or another, from one perspective to the opposing.  This relevance to so many teases everyone to get involved in the debates surrounding the topic in question. 

            Within a meme, the message is portrayed through the use of two lines of text, which I will refer to as the exposition and punch.  This particular format explains the high concentration of humor within memes, as opposed to that of a more serious nature.  The message itself varies greatly from meme to meme, including: opinions (popular and unpopular) for example, popular opinion puffin, confessions such as Confession bear, and many more.  The Successful Black man delivers its message of humor through an exposition alluding to stereotypical behaviors of a black man, followed by an ironic elaboration revealing the good, professional nature of the man in question.           

            Particular to the specific sub-genre of meme, The Successful Black Man in this case, follow certain attributes specific to that sub-genre.  The Success of this meme draws heavily from irony.  Irony can be defined as a dramatic contrast between limited and extended knowledge.  In the exposition of the meme, we exist in a limited view, seeing a black man only as a criminal, but once the punch-line is read, we are forced into the extended knowledge.  This contrasts forces many possible things upon our thought: humor, guilt, curiosity. 

            Another characteristic of this sub-genre is the attention to a controversially topic.  Many memes find the source of their power through the anger they can provoke within people.  It is undeniable that racial stereotyping is an extremely prevalent topic.  Unfortunately, however, it never seems to be wildly concerned for, or acknowledged even.  The Successful Black Man meme forces to our attention the true existence of stereotyping.  With it being forced to be addressed, the individual will be more likely to respond in a way acknowledging its existence, for better or worse. 

            The very appearance of the meme draws from stereotypes about black men. In the photo above, the background is shades of brown. The photo used was not just the first choice from a Google image search under "black business man". This particular photo was chosen for the expression on the man. There is a stereotype about black men saying that they do not smile in photos, and one of the jokes about this picture is that the man in the picture has a completely flat expression. If the reader looks closely at the stance of the man, they'll notice that he is not standing with his back straight, almost slouching. It pokes fun at the idea of a black man being

successful by using an image of a black man that fits the stereotypes of black people.




            The meme I have created fulfills all the properties of a meme, specific and general.  It provides relevance, to both the college student with a reference to campus life, but also to those concerned in racial debates.  The humor is derived from irony, "Fuck the police" is a common praise amongst those of the criminal world.  In my meme, the appreciation of the police contrasts the exposition of implied criminal orientation.  Naturally, my meme still contains the same flat expressive black man in a suit that can be seen in all alike it.  My message, forged from all other attributes of the meme, conveys the automatic bias towards people commonly felt by many of the population. 

            In conclusion, despite the hugely gross number of memes available for our pleasure, from an even larger pool of the population, all memes can be broken down into a very simplistic formula that I have shown above.  In the general sense, message, visual aid, and relevance hold together all memes, while in specific sub genres, other factors are in play, shown in the Successful Black Man to be Irony, controversy, and specific imagery. 


Comments (3)

Jaspreet Mondair said

at 6:56 pm on Sep 22, 2014

1. In this analysis, I will observe how this is achieved in relation to the meme in general, and in specific, The Successful Blackman.
2. purpose is clear that he will analyze that meme and memes as a whole
3. structure is pretty good
4. good on this
5. Introduction
6. conclusion could be a little better
7. good on this
8. decently written
9. B

Alexandra Fiddes said

at 8:01 pm on Sep 22, 2014

1. In this analysis, I will observe how this is achieved in relation to the meme in general, and in specific, The Successful Blackman.
2. The purpose is clear. He will analyze what a meme is and a certain subgenre.
3. Structure is good and clear.
4. Nothing was exaggerated.
5. Examples Used.
6. Conclusion
7. I was convinced that you knew what you were talking about.
8. Well written.
9. A-

Abigail Landskroener said

at 3:10 pm on Sep 23, 2014

1)A meme is the continuation of an idea or style from one person to another within a culture. (Further stating) I will observe how this is achieved in relation to the meme in general, and in specific, The Successful Blackman.
2) He will analyze what a meme is and more specifically The Successful Black Man
3)Structure is great very advance and clear writing.
4) Nope it was excellent
5) The introduction
6) Some word choice appears a little harsh for a simple meme analysis but there are no obvious weak spots
7)Yes you seem very well educated on this topic
8)This paper was excellent as previously stated. It was a very mature read to me.

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