Is a meme still a meme when someone tries to sell it? I’ve been grappling with that question in this post-#tealizard world. Today, The Atlantic staff writer David A. Graham tweeted an image of buttons that he claims are being sold by venders at a Hillary Clinton rally in Raleigh, NC. A row of the accessories features the words "Delete your account," a meme that a member of Clinton’s social media team deployed on rival Donald Trump.
It’s far too difficult to truly tell from this picture, but it appears the button is less popular than the other buttons running parallel to it. I wonder why?
There’s something about the commodification of a meme that suffocates its joyfulness. Maybe because a commercial object, like a button, isn’t modifiable like a digital object, like a tweet or JPG. Memes are fun, because they’re meant to be expanded upon. Or maybe memes feel like one of the few things not constructed with an express purpose to make someone rich. In the past, we had independent film and music. Now some indie film directors have upgraded to Marvel flicks, and a handful of indie musicians have scored car commercials.
Are memes the one art form that we still fear for selling out?