It’s easy to hate memes. They’re volatile, they helped get Trump elected, and they don’t know when to fucking stop. But they’re also unavoidable, a distinctly modern means of communication that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But to detach a meme from its perplexing, crowd-cultivated irony is, to some, a crime—memes, after all, are not references so much as shorthand. And that’s perhaps why the internet reacted so aggressively towards a teenage boy and his older sister when they sought to create a restaurant based on memes. One cannot simply name a burger after a meme.
Earlier this month, Catriona Crehan started a Kickstarter campaign with her little brother, who is autistic, for an earnest restaurant concept, one that would try to embody meme culture both in its design and menu. Loose design sketches and a mock-up of the menu are posted on the Kickstarter. Sample items include a Tide Pod Shake, a Chocolate Rain Lava Cake, and Covfefe Coffee.
“He was really proud of his project,” Crehan recently told the Daily Dot. They hoped to secure $350,000. It only raised $6.66, and that it reached that number was no accident.
“Messages came in and said, ‘kill yourself,’” Crehan said, and videos lambasting the project, like the one below, have reached hundreds of thousands of views. As the hate kept pouring in, Crehan canceled the Kickstarter page. Christ, it’s not like they were millionaires asking for $32,000 to film a video for their “body percussion” band.
And while it’s unlikely that these people realized they were piling on a child, it’s generally disheartening to see anonymous trolls bag on such a harmless, creative endeavor. The Daily Dot piece ends, “Crehan and her brother are not currently planning to develop a real restaurant built around memes,” which is sort of sad: It’s not as if the world necessarily needs a meme restaurant, but it does need creativity. And hey, a milkshake called “Forever Alone” is pretty funny.
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