Thursday, November 28, 2013

Paula Deen Riding Things - Aliza Levin

I chose to analyze the “Paula Deen Riding Things” meme. This particular meme became popular in February of 2011 after a food festival where Paula Deen was photographed riding another chef celebrity, Robert Irvine. The day after the event, the image was posted on various popular media websites, and within days, the image went viral. Paula Deen’s figure and position was cut out of the photo and photoshopped into more images and photos than imaginable. I think this particular meme became so popular simply because of Deen’s positioning and expression in the image. It’s not often that you see a celebrity publicly do something outside of social norms, especially riding another celebrity. The public loves moments like these, and does not hesitate to use them for their own entertainment.

            This image of Paula Deen in this meme is from the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on February 27th, 2011, and originated on Tumblr on February 28th. At the event, Robert Irvine got down on his hands and knees, and Paula Deen proceeded to sit on his back, with wine in hand. This image of Deen was taken and used completely out of context – riding a hotdog, riding Jimmy Fallon’s shoulder during a run, and many, many more. The image became popular towards the end of February and beginning of March. On February 28th (just one day after the event), the image of Deen was posted on Buzzfeed, Uproxx, MSNBC, FARK, and the New York Post. And on March 1st, it became incredibly popular on Twitter because of a tweet from Jimmy Fallon in which he attached a link to the Tumblr blog. Following Fallon’s tweet, the meme trended in several other blogs and websites, such as Food Network Humor and the Huffington Post. “Paula Deen Riding Things” eventually made it on the list of Top Ten Memes of 2011. According to Google Insights, the meme hit its peak in the beginning of March of 2011.

            A variety of memes emerged from this meme, of Paula Deen essentially riding anything and everything. She appears riding shoulders, various foods, and on mounds of butter (referencing her excessive use of butter). Both formal blogs and the general public chose to take the cropped image of her to extremes, and placed her in some of the most outrageous yet creative memes.

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