Harambe: Past Reflections

By Nicholas Perugini, Trending Writer

On May 28th, a three-year-old boy fell into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo. The local gorilla, Harambe, then picked up the boy and dragged him around. In a panic, the zoo keepers had to shoot and kill Harambe to save the boy’s life. A video of the incident was uploaded to the internet and soon, multiple news networks picked up the story. Since Harambe was a rare silver back gorilla, the story quickly drew much controversy. Many blamed the mother for not watching her child and being careless. On social media, animal lovers condemned the zoo’s actions with the hashtag justice for Harambe. The gorilla was painted as the victim and soon many images popped up on line with the line RIP Harambe, and with that the meme was born.

As the summer drew on, the meme spread throughout all social media platforms. With each share and retweet, someone new would add a new twist to the picture or the theme in general. Pictures of Harambe, David Bowie, Mohamed Ali, Prince, and Alan Rickman were photo shopped together with the caption, “2016 be like…. I’m taking everyone.” Other pictures showed famous animal characters attending Harambe’s funeral. There was even a meme of a “deleted Hillary Clinton email” asking for Harambe to be “taken care of.” By late summer, the meme had gathered a sort of cult following and had over-taken the internet.

The following of Harambe actually got so rabid that the Cincinnati Zoo had to delete its twitter account since everyone would post Harambe memes to their account and attack the zoo for killing the poor gorilla. Harmabe has again been brought in front of the media, this time people are trying to figure out why this gorilla has gotten everyone’s attention.

It has been four months since the death of Harambe and the meme is still going strong. In some polls, Harambe is tying third party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Even bestselling author J.K. Rowling retweeted a Harmabe meme. This meme is just a sign of the world we live. The internet has allowed such a small incident to blow up into an entire phenomenon. No one knows how long this joke will stay popular, but it has me wondering what the next big meme will be.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 27th print edition.

Contact Nicholas at

nicholas.perugini@student.shu.edu

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