By Jonathan McGeachen
Been taking a break from commenting on or consuming politics; if your reaction is any of the following:
-“Unacceptable: you need to do your part to #resist and slow the onslaught of right-wing fascism”
-“Unacceptable: you need to do your part to MAGA and slow the onslaught of left-wing fascism”
-or “Good, because I only listen to viewpoints that can be expressed within a Tweet”
then you’re the reason I need a break.
Instead, I’m going to talk about a meme image I came up with, which the mere thought of made me laugh out loud, so I put it together using memegenerator.
If it doesn’t make you laugh, that’s OK, I will explain why it’s the funniest thing ever. Dissecting a joke is like dissecting a frog– it kills it. But this is progress. So, here it is:
Background: The “Ideal Male Body” Meme
Know your meme is always an amazing resource, but this one is pretty straightforward. The text reads: “This is the ideal male body. You may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like.”
So right off the bat, the bar is set extremely high. The use of the absolute terms “ideal” and “peak” leaves no room for imperfections, making the statement very arrogant, unless the pictured body is truly flawless.
A straight-faced utterance of this would mostly be expected to come from a particular subset of image-conscious men who are also concerned about Calvin Klein-style portrayals of the airbrushed, Photoshopped, “perfect” male physique. They counter such, declaring, “this is what a real man looks like.” They might also be concerned, in their minds, that too much attention is given to the female version of this problem and not enough to the male. They feel a need to push out a counter-narrative.
Derision is to be expected on the internet: various parodies floated around, depicting obviously imperfect bodies juxtaposed with the lofty text.
Asset #1: The Obscurity Triple Threat
If you don’t recognize the creature in my picture, he is Krumm from the Nickelodeon cartoon Aaahh, Real Monsters!!! So there are a few layers of “hey, remember that?”
-Hey, remember 90’s cartoons?
-Hey, remember Aaahh, Real Monsters!!!? It was decidedly secondary in popularity to, say, Rugrats? When was the last time you ever thought about it?
-Hey, remember Krumm, arguably the least important of the 3 main characters?
Asset #2: Krumm is Vaguely Human, yet Grotesque
Unlike the other characters from that show, Krumm is composed entirely of recognizably human components, just arranged in a manner that, upon reflection, is horrifyingly inhuman. Even the most staunch advocate against body dysmorphia would hesitate to call him “beautiful.” Add in the exaggerated armpit hair, and he’s flat-out disgusting.
Asset #3: Krumm is Outside the Spectrum of Human “Performance”
No amount or lack of body training can make a person look like that. The basic assertion of the meme is rendered not only false, but absurd.