#RIPEminem: Has meme culture gone too far?

Danielle Desouza August 20, 2020

#RIPEminem: Yesterday, Eminem, aka Marshall Bruce Mathers, fell victim to the dark side of Twitter, when he became the subject of a brand-new hashtag. You’ll be pleased to hear the rapper is in fact alive and well.

#RIPEminem started trending because of a tweet that read: “I have killed Eminem.” Shocked fans immediately began using #RIPEminem to discuss the validity of this claim.

Then, to add humorous kindling to the rumours, users started posting photos of celebrities who resemble Eminem if you squint really hard in the dark. Clearly in on the joke, they took #RIPEminem and ran with it.

https://twitter.com/tanya51696019/status/1295806303873511424?s=20

Memes and Twitter go together like Brits and tea, so it was no surprise that the internet quickly exploded with #RIPEminem memes.

The #RIP phenomenon

This hashtag is not the first of its kind. In November 2019, #RIPPeterKay became a trend and accompanying memes started to circulate around the Twitter sphere.

Although memes have been around for ages, their presence on the internet is still relatively new. They act as a de-facto language for millennials and Gen-Z, and can propel their creators to instant online fame and a legion of followers.

Where #RIPEminem went too far

Most of us are probably familiar with the Evil Kermit meme, that has been used to discuss a plethora of hypothetical (or not) scenarios, from skipping lectures and sleeping late to saving vs. spending money.

https://twitter.com/DJYung228/status/1200883815444631558?s=20

For the most part, this was a harmless meme, poking light fun at the benign self-sabotage tendencies we all have sometimes.

However, #RIPEminem is making us wonder whether memes have gone a step too far. Eminem, who has yet to comment on the hoax, has talked about his struggles with mental health issues in the past. In 2006, Proof, a member of Eminem’s group, D12, was murdered, which saw Eminem turning to drugs to cope in the aftermath. Depression is a life-debilitating condition, with enough stigma attached as it is. No need for internet memes that could potentially exacerbate that.

Memes that falsely insinuate someone is dead do more harm than good. Celebrities are public figures, which exposes them to more scrutiny and discussion than regular people. But more importantly, they have feelings, just like the rest of us. It can be extremely damaging to one’s mental wellbeing to see memes about their own death retweeted and laughed at.

Memes can be a creative and fun tool when used correctly, but remember to always meme responsibly. It can easily go too far.

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Politics and Communication Masters student with a love for writing, travelling and trying new food.