Anyone who knows me, knows my love of memes and gifs.
And knows how much I love using them as a simple way to entertain audiences.
So, when the material of major “meme-value” comes around, I can usually call it.
I can usually say, “Let’s have a perspective on this, because that will be fun for us and our peeps”.
But today, on the day after the Oscars, here we are, with a bunch of brands using memes, as you would expect, of what happened between Chris Rock, and Will Smith during the Academy Awards.
There’s a lot of tension surrounding this incident that people probably don’t understand.
There’s lived experience,
There’s the possibility of a mental health breakdown in the degree of trigger vs response here.
There’s a general background of friendship among the parties in question – Jada included.
If you’re a brand (corporate or personal) stay away from it.
Don’t go there, don’t make a meme.
Keep your brand out of it.
Don’t use this unfortunate breakdown on many levels for gain, because there’s layers to this discussion that you want to stay out of unless you fully understand it.
This night was a “work event” for the entertainment industry, one of the finest, it could be said.
And it went horribly wrong.
Let’s not sensationalize that.
Instead, from a workplace perspective, here’s my advice as a communicator: educate yourself further; there are a number of people who are talking about it. Get clear on your thoughts.
If you’d like a source, here’s one: Avery Francis on Twitter. You’ll find some food for thought from an inclusion perspective on why this is a loaded topic.
PSA: We just need to sit this one out unless we’re aware of the nuances
Resist the urge to use slapping memes, this week in general, and for several months to come.
Resist the urge to get involved in a joke that is clearly punching down.
Resist the urge to comment on things involving physical violence where you have no business (it’s not like we can jump on a screen and save the day.
This is NOT the metaverse.)
This subject is going to have extremely polarized opinions about who thinks who is right and who is wrong.
We all have freedom of speech.
Jokes get funnier when they hit on sensitive topics.
That said, when you are making a joke that is clearly punching down to physical abilities and acts oblivious to the racial tension contained within the fact that you’re commenting on a black woman’s hair. In public. In 2022.
*please find me shaking my head*
As a brand, in this environment, you’ve got to be careful with that.
Be careful with any commentary.
Because, it’s loaded folks.
Where’s the line between sensitivity and censorship?
I certainly don’t know.
All I know is that if things have the power to visibly hurt someone trainer for the public eye, like they did Jada (focus on her disgusted reaction in any video you can find that hasn’t been taken down – I won’t risk linking here. And forget the stupid fighting boys for a second.)
So, right now, if you are a brand that is considering getting some quick audience attention by using the meme of the moment, take it from me as the proponent of “doing almost anything for a laugh”. As the author of a book in production about making an effort to bring more levity as a brand…
You want to sit this one out.
Lay off the jokes.