I think it’s gotten to that point where I have to talk about this. Harambe, yes the Gorilla that was shot and killed in the Cincinnati Zoo after a 3-year old fell in his enclosure has been all over the internet for months, if you haven’t already noticed. The question is…why? Well, there really is no logical way to explain it. Right after this situation happened in May, people were genuinely outraged at the fact that an animal had to be killed in the process. The story went on for a short amount of time and then ultimately faded away. But thanks to the wonderful people on Instagram and Twitter, the memes began rolling through and they haven’t showed signs of stopping ever since. There have been songs made, merchandise sold, and even candlelight vigils held in cities around the world…for a Gorilla.
Trolls on the internet started the meme “Dicks out for Harambe” and it’s basically being said by just about every person under 25, which makes you wonder what it’s like to be a highschool teacher right about now. There are petitions to change the name of the Cincinati Zoo to the Harambe Zoo, and to change the name of the Cincinatti Bengals to “Harambes”. And to top it all off, in a recent poll, it was revealed that 5% of voters would vote for Harambe in this years election. Every day it seems as though there’s something even more extravagant with this Gorilla’s name attached, and it begs the question…when will it end? Like all good memes, they eventually die. However, it’s simply one of those situations that you cannot possibly predict, as to when. Who would have ever thought that this would gain the attention that it did, and that it would last this long in the first place?
So what makes this meme so special?
It started as a movement fighting for the justice of a mistreated animal
When you read that it really doesn’t sound bad at all. People felt as though there were other ways to neutralize the Gorilla and child hostage situation, than to kill, and they expressed their passion and outrage online. There was even a petition with over 500k signatures to have the parents of the boy charged for their negligence. As usual, the internet brings out undercover experts in everything and anything.
Quite often when “random” memes such as this one happens, there is usually a brand involved in some way that makes you wonder if it was all planned in the first place. An example being the “Damn Daniel” meme that was associated with Vans sneakers, or even the “Alex from Target” that was evidently associated with the large retailer. “Dicks out for Harambe” is a thing of its own that no brand would dare to touch. You find that as soon as brands get a hold of a meme they tend to die out. It’s kind of like when your mom first got Facebook and it drove you to spend more time on Snapchat or Instagram. The reason this meme has lasted so long in my opinion is because there isn’t a brand that can grab a hold of it. I mean, the Cincinnati Zoo could try and create Harambe inspired events/merchandise, but that would just come off as disingenuous since they were in fact the ones that ended his life in the first place, and have already expressed their discomfort of the memes
Similar to my last point, this meme belongs 100% to the people. For example, “Damn Daniel” ends because Daniel’s friend, the one the meme belonged to stopped recording the funny videos. It reached it’s peak, and couldn’t be taken any further. You could try and carry it on all you want with your friend that’s also named Daniel, but it’s simply not going to be as funny and will probably come off as a little pathetic. Harambe was in the hands of the people from the start and will end whenever they get bored of it.
Personally I don’t find the memes to be all that funny anymore, but hey people still seem to be enjoying them, and they aren’t really doing any harm, so play on. What do you guys think of the viral success behind Harambe? Drop a comment, I’d love to know!
Dakarai is an ambitious professional with a passion for advertising and marketing, and is currently employed as an account coordinator for an ad agency in Toronto. When he’s not at the office, he’s most likely trying out a new restaurant, browsing AdWeek, or binge watching something on Netflix. Dakarai, but you can call him Dak. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.