Dawn of Justice

Today, I went and watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so here’s a quick review. THE REVIEW WILL BE COMPLETELY SPOILER FREE.

For almost the last three years, we have been waiting for this film, and finally, our patience has paid off. And despite the ridiculously low critique, I personally believe that Zack Snyder has delivered pretty well. This makes we wonder what the critics were drinking/snorting before going to the movie. Or maybe it is just stigma against Ben Affleck as an actor. However, in my opinion, no one could have played an aged Bruce Wayne better than him. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams reprise their roles from Man of Steel, and both have improved a lot in the last three years (Although Lois Lane is still slightly less useful than Sakura Haruno. Superman, her personal 911, has to keep his ears open for whenever she might scream for help). Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was perhaps one of the weaker characters on screen, although I believe that in future movies, as his character develops, so will his acting. However, the person who, despite getting less than 30 minutes of screen time in all, stole everyone’s heart, was none other than the gorgeous Gal Gadot! Every scene she was in had an extra layer of grace, and I am not saying this just because she is hot. Jeremy Irons also presented a unique rendition of Alfred Pennyworth. This Alfred is not only younger (compared to all previous movie incarnations), but he also has almost a non-existent British accent. However, for the very few minutes that he appears on-screen, the Wayne Manor Butler will not make you feel bored.

Of course, I can’t claim that this was a perfect movie. What really went wrong was the jittery nature in which one situation moved on to another: there was an utter lack of smooth flow from scene to scene, and this will bother anyone who watches the movie. While some people also complained that the movie tried to stitch several together and did not do justice to any, I personally did not have a lot of problem with that. Likewise, claiming that too much CG fighting has ruined the action sequence is bogus: how else are you supposed to show such supernatural beings fighting?

One thing you must remember when going for this movie is that you need to keep an open mind. If you have somehow stipulated the idea in your mind that Christopher Nolan was the best thing to happen to Batman and that Zack Snyder is bound to mess it up, you are just denying yourself the enjoyment of a great movie. So I urge that you watch the movie for yourself, and make your own decisions as to whether you like it or not.

And with this review completed, I’d now like to talk about memes: and what best to discuss here today, than the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice memes! And boy, there are quite a lot of those on the Internet.

As those who have watched the trailers will know, one of the most iconic lines of the movie is Batman asking Superman: “Tell me…Do you bleed?” and then adding after a pause, “You will!” The hall full of nerds today cheered at this point of the movie, so we can appreciate just how much of an impact this has on the fans. Naturally, it gets memed:

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This meme has a striking resemblance to the Captain America: Civil War meme. Like all memes, this one soon started to evolve:

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Notice the Photoshopped Bat-grin, and wonder if science has gone too far.

One nice touch was combining Bruce Wayne and The Most Interesting Man of the World meme:

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Of course, since Wonder Woman had also been declared, and that “bleeding” was involved, things soon took a nasty turn:

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Some lines may have been crossed with that one.

As more trailers dropped, more scenes from the movie were revealed and as a natural consequence, more memes were born. Be it the Lex Luthor comeback…

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…or fighting between our two protagonists in the final trailer:

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…our two heroes getting up to some kinky stuff…

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…or, once again, some slight perversion regarding Diana Prince…

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…and Diana’s reply to that (although I find the actual dialogue in this part of the movie far more bad-ass):

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One more meme I found about why these two wanna fight may be a little inappropriate as well, but I have heard that Ben Affleck pointed this one out himself in some interview (“I discovered Superman’s mom in another movie”), and so, everyone just takes it in jocular spirit, I guess (notice how gracefully this meme delivers the entire message without having a single word captioned on it):

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For those who don’t know, that is Ben Affleck and Diane Lane from the movie Hollywoodland. Diane Lane plays Superman’s adoptive mother, Martha Kent, in Man of Steel as well as Dawn of Justice. So basically Superman is after Wayne for sleeping with his mother. (Incidentally, Affleck plays the role of Superman in Hollywoodland as well).

And apparently it’s not just Martha Kent Batman has had some close encounters with:

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Can’t blame Clark for getting mad after THAT.

Batman v Superman shares the theme of conflict between two superheroes with Captain America: Civil War. In fact, one might say that even the premises of their conflict is extremely similar. Captain America: Civil War has it’s own share of memes, and it’s not surprising that the two memes have crossed into each other quite often, as summarized by this meme:

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Not to mention these:

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And I sign off today with this one:

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And oh, those who hated the movie, here’s a drink, complements of Lex Luthor (those who have watched the movie know what I mean. If you have not, well, I hope this does not count as a spoiler):

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Because  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is currently slaying at the box office (source: http://deadline.com/2016/03/batman-v-superman-opening-weekend-box-office-records-1201726300/)

After a spell of big-budget disasters last year from Jupiter Ascending to Pan, cash is finally raining on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, CA as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is set to post the biggest pre-summer opening day ($82M, beating Furious 7‘s $67.4M) and weekend ($170M, outstripping The Hunger Games’ $152.5M). Heck, BvS is poised to be Warner Bros. best opening of all-time, beating Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($169.2M), and even The Dark Knight Rises ($160.9M) and The Dark Knight ($158.4M). In 4,242 theaters, BvS is the widest pre-May release and new record-holder for top March and Easter debuts. Reported yesterday: Flash grosses show BvS winning over China with $21.2M. Add that to the two-day $44M tally and the pic’s foreign cume is north of $65M.

All memes used have been downloaded through Google Search or from the Facebook page “All Things DC and Marvel”.

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How I Became a Meme

It is an ongoing practice among students to make memes about their peers. In fact, as a leading expert in memes in my college, I have created a large number of memes of my batch-mates. It was only a matter of time before the tables were turned on me.

One morning, a couple of months ago, I had taken a bath just before going to class. My hair (which is somewhat long) was damp, and it looks very awkward when I do a back-brush. As a result, my friends were laughing at me. During this exchange, at one point of time, one of my closest friends, Diptanil Roy, clicked a photo of me (the featured photo for this post), which was very soon circulated on WhatsApp with the caption:

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Despite the poor grammar, he kicked off a chain reaction in which this photo soon became an accepted reaction when confusion is to be conveyed. Many variations of this were spawned (a few created even by myself). Eventually, the very first one found its way up to 9GAG, thanks to another close friend, Bibhabasu Patra.

An interesting feature that meme (which is a Reaction Meme) is that the context of this meme was created entirely artificially. The expression on my face was created completely by chance, and at that point of time, had nothing to do with confusion. However, lucky photographs like this have led to a large number of memes such as Nicolas Cage’s You Don’t Say? and Obama’s Not Bad faces. The Persian Cat Room Guardian, mentioned in my previous post, also serves as a kind of reaction meme, since it has a facial element.

Reaction memes perhaps make up the largest class of memes. From photographs of random people taken at the appropriate time, to shots of celebrities on the TV and silver screen, to crudely drawn but highly appealing rage comics: wherever we need to express an emotion in reaction to something, we often resort to a reaction meme, because a picture is worth a thousand words. I don’t know what Facebook had initially envisioned as the intended use of the Photo-comment option, but it is undoubtedly the best place to come across, or use, reaction memes.

But why use a reaction meme? A long used method of communicating emotion has been to use emoticons. The reason why memes appeal to many as a mode of reaction, are, in my opinion, as follows:

  1. Just like emoticons, memes such as Nick Cage’s Reaction series have an almost universal renown.
  2. What emoticons lack grossly, memes provide in plenty: humor. There is always a chance that a well constructed meme will provide some entertainment, even if it is created as a reaction. On the other hand, I don’t think anyone has ever felt amused looking at a 😀 or a lol.
  3. A huge variety of memes is available online, and a large number of online resources allow you to create memes easily. Thus, you can very quickly construct a meme to fit your exact reaction, just right.

There are, however, certain drawbacks to using reaction memes as well.

  1. Some memes, especially those with a smaller outreach, may not be readily recognised by everyone. Many memes are only only pertinent to a certain group and using it elsewhere may not convey the correct emotion.
  2. It is not always easy to select the right meme. As mentioned before, using the wrong meme often leads to very anticlimactic effects and undesirable result. Remember: if a joke needs to be explained, it fails as a joke, and the same goes for a meme.

Before signing off for today, I’d like to say a few things:

  • The Follow button has been added to the home page, thanks to my buddy Gaurish Korpal. Do him a favor by visiting his blog as well, at gaurish4math.wordpress.com.
  • I have almost zero experience running a blog, so I would really appreciate comments from my readers.
  • If you like this blog, kindly spread the word about it.
  • Due to my tight schedule, I may not be able to post regularly. I’ll try to make larger and more substantial posts during weekends.
  • Although this blog is called The Science of Memes, I intend to post other content as well, perhaps small (but significant) events out of my life, maybe a new aqcuisition, or a book/movie/game review. I will try not to digress a lot, but I hope my readers will not find such posts objectionable.

What makes a good meme?

A good meme must satisfy two criteria:

  1. Relevance
  2. Minimalism

By relevance, what I mean is that the viewer must be able to immediately relate between the image and its caption. On the other hand, the image must a powerful enough symbol so as to make sure that we need not have a long text to accompany the meme. If we follow these two rules, we will be able to use images that apparently have nothing to do with the scenario, yet, describe the situation perfectly. Take, for example, this one:

Me: Mom, my stomach hurts.

Mom: That’s because you are always on your phone.

Me:
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The blank stare, the unhappy face and the clear gesture of confusion of the Persian Cat Room Guardian accurately demonstrates our reaction to such an absurd response. In short, here, instead of expressing our emotion with a lot of words, we replaced it with a single, relevant, powerful image. In fact, in my opinion, memes are but advanced forms of emoticons.

Sometimes, the association may come from a different source instead of the photo itself, but from the circumstances from which the photo originated. For example:

Me: Oh God please get me outta this mess I’ll behave for the rest of my life oh Lord please…

God:
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Most Internet users would be familiar with the song “Why the Fuck You Lyin’?” from which this song originates. Constant use has made this association in our head, allowing us to instantly recognize this as a reaction to lying.

Of course, connections may be artificially created as well, as a result of constant usage, but that’s a different issue of discussion.

The Art of the 21st Century

A hundred years from now, art history books will (hopefully) be updated. Just as we read about the art of the Renaissance Era, or the work of modern artists like Van Gogh, books will then write about the art of the 21st century. And undoubtedly, it will contain a section on memes. While it is difficult to acknowledge at first, it is true that the Golden Age of the Internet has brought to life this new form of art, where we express humor through a single, captioned picture. It truly respects the adage a picture is worth a thousand words. In fact, some memes are so powerful in their imagery that they do not even require a caption to deliver the entire range of intended emotion. Of course, it is not a constant art. Meme-making is evolving constantly. Memes mutate, and soon, take a wide variety of forms. I will discuss a very recent, excellent example of this in a later post.

One must realize, however, that despite sounding easy, successful meme-making is a difficult job. As much as it is an art, there is also a science behind it, and a complicated one at that. Not any image will deliver the desired emotion. Not any caption will capture the humor perfectly. Moreover, the unwritten rules of the Internet assigns each meme a particular domain of usage. An incorrectly used meme will often be misinterpreted, not to mention that it highly embarrassing to present a misconstrued meme to the public. Every meme has a set recipe, and to modify it while preserving the intended meaning requires expertise.

In my blog, I wish to pass on my considerable knowledge of meme-making to the aspiring meme-creators. I hope that my tutelage will benefit them, helping them create the right meme for the right situation. As a scientist, I believe that  I will be able to break this art down to a science, so that if you follow the basic steps, you already have the raw materials to your meme. All that remains is to add a little imagination.