CRITICAL MEME THEORY
THE EIGHTH IN A SERIES
June 1, 2021
In life, it is not uncommon to have questions that go unanswered for months, years, or decades. Even with all the information available to us today, there are millions of mysteries that we still have not come close to understanding. That is simply the nature of the universe – it is one giant enigma filled with many smaller ones.
Sometimes these questions will simply sit in our unconscious, waiting for an answer to perhaps one day saunter in just by luck. Questions like “What is that noise coming from my garbage cans at night?” and “Does the person watching me through my phone camera have someone watching them too?” usually fall in this category. But some questions refuse to behave. They cause a ruckus at the forefront of your mind, pushing aside thoughts pertinent to your everyday activities and forcing themselves to be pondered. They burn a proverbial hole in your non-proverbial grey matter and cause you to lie awake at night and in the wee hours of the morning. These questions… force you to ask.
You may seek answers in strange places. You may travel to distant cities in foreign lands, to find people who speak a language you cannot understand. You may read every book ever published, highlighting every ghost of a hint or reference to the subject of your perplexity. You may even attempt to interview the spirits of the dearly departed, desperately trying to discern which, if any of them hold the answer to what ails you.
But in today’s meme, we see possibly the farthest a man can go in pursuit of closure. We see what it is like to be truly broken. We see… the Amazon Customer Q&A Section.
In this eighth edition of a series of founding documents for Critical Meme Theory, memes (and forum posts) will be broken down for the comprehension of the average man, bit by bit. You, the reader, will be presented with examples of the finest and most intellectual meme artistries to be created thus far. While some of these may prove to be frustratingly dense for most outside observers, you are asked to please try your hardest to mentally bear with us, even if your insufficient mental capacity limits your ability to do so.
In case you were not previously aware, the website known as Amazon.com is one that was founded by my good friend Jeffrey Bezos. The two of us met in elementary school, but it would not be until several hours later that we started to become friends. Jeff was always in awe of my abilities – my excellent memory, my superb intelligence, and my noticeable trait of being able to feel human emotions. He constantly begged for my assistance in subjects ranging from homework to home life, but the most influential advice I ever gave him was to start an online commerce website focused on meme-related merchandise. He heeded my words, though only partially.
Of course, even through exploiting half of my idea, the man became remarkably wealthy. And with him came his website, becoming one of the most visited ones in the world. It is on this website that our meme takes place – in the Q&A section of a product page. Now, I am aware that the sentence I just typed – “in the Q&A section of a product page” – contains a considerable amount of jargon, so allow me to explain each piece of it in-depth:
Q&A – short for “Question and Answer.” This denotes a function or social interaction where a person or group of people may ask questions to and receive answers from another person or group of people. The subject matter of these questions and answers vary wildly.
Product – an article or substance that is manufactured or refined for sale, usually in the context of a modern, capitalist, industrial society.
Page – a hypertext document provided by a website and displayed to a user in a web browser. A website typically consists of many web pages linked together in a coherent fashion. The name “web page” is a metaphor of paper pages bound together into a book.
Section – any of the more or less distinct parts into which something is or may be divided or from which it is made up.
The – an article, denoting one or more people or things already mentioned or assumed to be common knowledge.
Hopefully these definitions proved helpful to the average reader. Now, in regards to the meme, we are confronted with a rather fascinating conundrum… we are not looking at a meme at all, but rather an image (a visual excerpt) taken from the aforementioned Amazon.com webpage.
In spite of this, this content has still been approved for Critical Meme Theory due to its meme-adjacent status. Because of this, we may continue to analyze it.
In the northern half of the image, we can see a seemingly simple question, posed by an unseen and possibly non-existent person. What exactly they are speaking in reference to is uncertain, though guesses can certainly be made. Perhaps someone will make them sometime.
In the southern edge of the image, we can see what is, ostensibly, an answer to the question we saw previously posed. Amusingly, this answer is far shorter than the earlier sentence, though it is undoubtedly far denser and sophisticated. It reads:
When I first read that response, I was dumbfounded. Really? A person left that comment? A person on Amazon.com, no less? They left that and simply expected all to understand? How is that possible?
Well, I sat. And pondered. I pondered it for many hours. A great many hours. And only after all this time (and a brief lunch break which I took at Burger King™ Where Taste Is King) did I finally reach the astounding conclusion.
This wasn’t just one person.
It was millions.
In this single comment, a massive synthesis of human art, history and culture was taking place. And arguably still is taking place. The textual references and artistic influences are strikingly meaningful once they have been recognized.
For example, astute readers of Shakespeare (a famous 19th century writer) will remember that many characters in his plays often greeted each other with phrases such as (or similar to) “Hello.” Ringing any bells?
“Hello” is the short version of “Hi”!
Yes. That’s correct. The same phrase used in this comment was used by The Bard himself. What exactly was meant by this connection is unknown, but it most certainly is shocking.
And this is to say nothing of the oblique references to Leo Tolstoy’s War And Peace or Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic speech at the Lincoln Memorial. We’re heavily glossing over the allusions to Don Quixote. And we may even be overlooking the relation to Pixar’s Ratatouille. Alas, there simply is not enough space in an article for all these nuances.
But before we conclude, we must know. What was meant by all this? What did this anonymous scholar mean when he wrote his deft response to this helpless Amazon customer? Well, to other scholars like myself, the answer is obvious. Understanding the weight capacity of some kind of machine is pointless, and only serves to distract us from memetic and cultural studies. If we allow ourselves to obsess over it, we will destroy ourselves and what little chance we have of truly understanding the world around us. Possibly the most supreme tragedy of all.
This man… this hero… is ingeniously attempting to show both the asker and us what we are missing when we waste our lives with things like “manual labor” and “families.” He is trying – and succeeding – to scare us straight. He is showing us every side of the world we didn’t know we needed to see.
Well… I certainly hope this issue of Critical Meme Theory educated you, and maybe even emotionally affected you in some kind of way similar to the way it did me. Hopefully, your cultural awareness has increased by at least a factor of seven.
As usual, while it is possible the analysis of this message may have proved rigorous and in-depth for most, it will be only the seventh in a long series of memes to be dissected by the eye of Critical Meme Theory. It is advised that you reread this document several times over, until you feel as though you properly understand each of its minute concepts. As both a citizen of the modern world and a consumer of modern pop culture, it is your duty to understand and critique every meme (and even every discussion of memes) you should come upon, no matter how complex it may appear to be. Always remember to be as ready as possible.
The Meme Theory Committee