“There’s no place for lulz on LOLCats”: The role of genre, gender, and group identity in the interpretation and enjoyment of an Internet meme

Kate M. Miltner

Abstract


Internet memes are an increasingly widespread form of vernacular communication. This paper uses LOLCats, one of the most popular and enduring Internet memes, as a case study for exploring some of the social and cultural forces that contribute to memes’ popularity, both individually and as a whole. A qualitative audience study of 36 LOLCat enthusiasts indicates that individual memes can be used by multiple (and vastly different) groups for identity work as well as in–group boundary establishment and policing. This study also shows that as memes travel from subculture to the mainstream, they can be sites of contestation and conflict amongst different stakeholders looking to legitimize their claim to the canonical form.

Keywords


internet meme; lolcats; genre theory; visual culture; image macros

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v19i8.5391



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