“Too Soon?”: Internet makes light of the London riots

Looter memes find Britain's devastating ordeal a laugh riot, but is the humor hitting too close to home?

Topics: Internet Culture, Going Viral, Twitter, Television,

"Too Soon?": Internet makes light of the London riotsIs this image funny, offensive, or both?

When the president announced that Osama bin Laden had been captured and killed by American Navy SEALs, jokes started pouring in over the Internet within minutes. Twitter and Tumblr allowed for both anonymity and the ability for content to be shared instantaneously, creating the perfect storm for politically incorrect humor to go viral. And while some of the jokes and memes circulating during the days following the al-Qaida leader’s demise may have been funny, some people wondered whether “it was too soon to laugh.”

Three months later, and the “too soon?” refrain is being sung again, though this time in regard to the riots and looting that have devastated London. A Tumblr called PhotoshopLooter — which digitally alters photos from the riots to include Justin Bieber, My Little Ponies, giant cookies, and unicorns (among others) — has only been up for two days, but already has four pages of submissions and thousands of reblogs. Obviously, there is a market in this kind of dark humor on the Internet. And maybe that’s not a bad thing.



It’s hard to imagine what kind of atrocity, short of the damn apocalypse, could keep 4Chan members from making politically incorrect macro images about the event moments after it hits the newswires. Gawker’s Adrien Chen may have been being facetious in his commentary on the looter memes when he said, “It’s that famous British stiff-upper-lip — they’re able to make the best out of any situation. Like during World War II, when they made all those funny Hitler YouTube videos,” but there is a kernel of truth to his words.

One of the classic ways to deal with fear is to laugh at it, and I have no doubt that had the Internet been around during the Blitzkrieg, images of Kitler would be even more popular than they are now.

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie

    A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie

    Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant

    A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Black Silk" by Judith Ivory

    A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale

    A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner

    A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ...   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen

    Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal

    A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

    Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time.   Read the whole essay.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>