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Deconstructing Memes Purpose

Paper: Deconstructing Memes Purpose: We encounter misconceptions, mistruths (or half-truths) in the form of hyprocisy memes on social media with alarming regularity. These “Tu quoque” (Latin for “you also”) creations are author-less, often frankenstein-ed together with stolen photos and un-attributable and/or decontextualized quotes, and utilize a wide variety of rhetorically unsound practices, chiefly “whataboutism,” but make claims that are nevertheless catchy, affirm people’s viewpoints, and are digestible, and easily distributed, making them very dangerous because they directly influence thinking and impact behavior; for these reasons, they need to be deconstructed to prevent them from spreading, and to best, most responsibly, inform our audience, who needs the most accurate information to decide what to do, or not do, which comes as the result of responsible analysis and argumentation, based on experts and research. Many topics in this day and age are ripe for memes, including politics (reflecting conservative and liberal viewpoints), COVID 19, race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, and climate change, as well as other issues affecting our decisions and behavior. The Assignment: You will write an essay deconstructing a meme of your choice.

More specifically, you are going to explain/describe the meme, explain the claims or claims it is attempting to make and how (rhetorical devices used), explain its in/validity (why it might be superficially convincing, and to whom, and why, ultimately, it isn’t via attacking logical fallacies), argue for why the myth exists (i.e. lack of information or research), and the consequences of its continued circulation via social media. Although submitting this on paper, think of your platform as a virtual one, in the form of either a website or blog, which means your sense of audience and tone must be razor sharp; for example, using the rhetorical critical analysis approach to, for example, help people who are on the fence about wearing a mask wear a mask more frequently and consistently. You must embed at least one visual into your essay–the meme you are deconstructing. Your overall objective is to debunk the meme. You must also use 3 of the 4 readings in Module 4A (Donovan, Axelrod, Nystrom, and/or Chan). Essay type: hybrid, rhetorical/textual/topical analysis, point/counterpoint, cause and effect, definition, moderate-significant research. Structure:Your essay will be divided into several smaller parts. Though focusing on one larger “dominant” claim within the meme, your essay might explore other sub-claims that contribute to the larger meme. You will need to incorporate research to debunk your meme, and its sub-claims. For example(picture in the file):

Claim Meme Makes: Left-leaning people are so tolerant of people’s dietary needs they would accommodate zombies, who are known to eat people, ergo left-leaning people are in favor of eating people. Rhetorical Devices Used: pathos (appeal to fear), reducto ad absurdum (logical extreme), ad hoc/false cause and false equivalence (being mindful of other’s dietary preferences/requirements will cause of to become/means one is a mindless zombie), misplaced/dark humor (to appeal to audience), etc. Why Dangerous: Equating dietary awareness to weakness can cause people to ignore dangerous eating situations, i.e. disregard someone’s peanut allergy; politicizing what is health/science based can cause some to disregard this important issue as being politically driven, and therefore untrue or exaggerated, which can harm people who must (or choose to) adhere to certain dietary requirements.