Friday, April 19, 2013

Memes of the Texas Wilds

In the spirit of Success Kid, et al.,…Intense Owl?

Spring bird migration is in full swing on the Texas coast, which is eating up a lot of my spare time. I’ll post a summary at some point after the dust has cleared. In the mean time, I was working through some pictures from a recent trip and noticed something odd/funny.

While out driving the beaches of the Upper Texas Gulf Coast[i], I noticed that in any given series of shots[ii] of a bird or creature, which had been theretofore frolicking or scurrying madly, the critter in question inevitably seemed to take a moment of quiet reflection in my last shot to stare out over the water, lift their eyes to the heavens, or otherwise appear lost in thought. I couldn’t help but wonder what each was thinking of in that seeming momentary pause[iii]…if their daily worries ever strayed to the existential. I mean, does a Laughing Gull ever get depressed?  Does the demonic-looking Bronzed Cowbird really have plans to conquer our souls? Do Vireos contemplate God? What if animals had the same petty fears, depression, grandiose ambitions and ennui as we did?

 Some might look at that and think, “ahh the grandeur of nature”, or even “interesting, the human tendency to project our emotions on animals”. Those of us ruined by the internet can’t help but think “that would make a semi-awesome meme…”(and this is from someone who generally dislikes memes[iv].)  

So, against my better judgment, I present to you “Animals Thinking About Stuff”, a meme.

Warbling Vireo, Quintana, TX.

Peregrine Falcon, San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, TX.

Laughing Gull, Quintana, TX.

Fiddler Crab, Anahuac NWR, TX

Hooded Warbler, Quintana, TX.

Eastern Grey Squirrel, Russ Pittman Park, TX

Bronzed Cowbird, Quintana, TX

Jumping Spider, Houston, TX

Red-eared Slider, Brazos Bend State Park, TX

Sanderling, Quintana, TX

Jumping Spider, Sugar Land, TX

Sanderling, Quintana, TX

This was a lot funnier in my head.


[i] This is a thing in Texas. We drive on the beaches because, well, f--- you nature. If something can’t get out of the way of a big 4X4 barreling down the tide line, it’s just natural selection in progress. 
[ii] When I’m out shooting wildlife (with a camera, just to clarify), there’s not always a lot of time to set up a shot. If the critter is in range, you essentially spray and pray. If it sticks around, you might take a moment to set up a perfect shot, but only after you’ve gotten a bunch of quick shots, just in case. I have a lot of crappy bird pictures because of this, but they’re still better than the perfectly composed pictures of empty space that would have resulted if I hadn’t fired off shots before it flitted off.
[iii] Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of anthropomorphizing the denizens of the natural world. I do not attribute to them human emotion, etc. in a serious way. However, there is something comical to me about considering what they might be thinking, were they to think such thoughts, in these 1000 yard stare moments. So, biologists, please forgive me as I engage in a little poetic license.  Obviously the actual answer is that the animal in question has become aware of me, is freezing, and is considering escape routes. But that’s not really that funny.
[iv] I get the underlying humor of memes. It’s not that unique in terms of archetypcal comic premises. It starts with the mundane, and appends a new meaning to it which alters the original understanding in a comical way. The problem is that it rapidly escalates into a meta one-upsmanship of pop culture references, and then inevitable gets exhausted long before it gets retired. As soon as the meme itself is a pop culture reference, it has gone meta and is just beating a dead horse. For me this happens really early on. Grumpy cat is the perfect example. Can that meme please, please die now? Once in a while, someone will get a clever take in on an old meme, but usually it’s swamped by an avalanche of dreck. It’s like when people repeat funny lines from movies over and over. It was funny when we first heard it, in the movie. Maybe it’s funny as a pop culture reference in the right context. But you’re not funny just for repeating someone else’s comedy. 

1 comment:

Joel said...

These are j'adorable.