Letter references sad, offensive Internet meme

In a July 16 letter [“New Mural at Orbit DVD is Offensive,” July 16, Xpress], David Lynch criticized public art at Orbit DVD by applying the discerning website knowyourmeme.com. Lynch referenced a sad and offensive Internet meme featuring a sloth (the same creature depicted in Orbit’s mural) and claimed this meme, which advocates violence toward women, is the lens through which we should view the mural.


Not everyone will like the Orbit mural. Art is subjective — a Rorschach test that reveals what’s in the beholder’s head more than the artist’s. It is your right to be offended by Orbit’s mural, but not for Lynch’s reasoning. I am in no way defending the sloth meme or the actions it advocates. Lynch is likely an intelligent man, but he fights with an absurd argument.

To demonstrate, I thought I would take Lynch’s logic — find memes and apply them to Asheville — to show how unfortunate his reasoning is. Some memes I found say we should randomly beat hippies and feed homeless people to others who are homeless. I bet these people are glad not all of us think memes are for real.

I found one meme set in public fountains similar to our Splashville. It encouraged people to publicly urinate on others. Further memes dare us to do depraved acts to public monoliths like Vance Monument.

No! Don’t do any of this. Memes are for the Internet. They are not guideposts for informed and rational humans. Please question yourself if you ever want to apply an Internet meme’s content to the three-dimensional world.

If you dislike some art, including the mural at Orbit DVD, that’s fine. But when we let our minds connect something to any random reference in the search for deeper meaning, we’re not thinking critically anymore.

And that’s the real shame in the criticisms of this public mural.

Jim MacKenzie


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3 thoughts on “Letter references sad, offensive Internet meme

  1. First off, I did not apply the meme to the mural. The mural artist did. And it’s not a stretch to think there is a better-than-average chance that the artist was aware of the “rape sloth” meme, since it was shared millions of times on the internet.

    Jim, are you suggesting that mural artists are completely unaware of the internet and never visit it? Are you asserting that there is no possible way the mural artist could been influenced by something he saw online? This is where your argument falls apart. Art is not created in a vacuum. We are all subject to the wide diaspora of influences.

    We can go back and forth about this ad infinitum, but the obvious void in the discussion is the absence of the mural artist. Why, out of the infinite choices of subject matter available, did he choose to juxtapose a sloth in close proximity to a woman on all fours? That’s the million-dollar question that hasn’t been answered yet.

  2. boatrocker

    With so many well articulated responses to the original Lynch letter that reduce his argument to ash, I thought I’d just remind readers that PT Barnum once said “say what you will about me, but at least spell my name right” (paraphrased). That guy’s next mural is a guaranteed success for him (or her) not having to defend it every week in the LTE section. Any press is good press, etc etc.

    By the way, have you ever check out the original rape meme? Da Vinci painted it. It’s called “Leda and the Swan” and goodness knows how many millions have seen it. It alludes to Zeus coming down to Earth in swan form to have ‘surprise sex’ with a human woman.

    I miss the good ol days when LTE writers were only offended by an omnivore diet and perverts snapping pictures of bare boobied women at topless rallies. Between being offended by paintings, alcohol, music festivals not having the proper ratio of certain forms of music or female led groups, I’m running out of outrage, which of course offends me.

  3. Jim MacKenzie

    Nah, David.
    David, It’s quite possible the mural artist knew about that meme, but so what?
    Your argument lacks any evidence of connecting the meme to the mural, except in your own head.
    That’s the failure of your argument.
    Good arguments contain evidence outside your own mind.
    My point is that we have no idea what the artist was thinking, so let’s not pretend to be mind readers.
    Don’t you have a radio show? You should have me on as a guest. I think our friendly debate would be good content.

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