Never say anything bad about Harambe, the internet’s favorite gorilla. (Say whatever you want about Koko, the internet’s second favorite gorilla.) The internet will come for you if you do. So let me preface this by saying Harambe’s death was a legitimate tragedy, and it’s still sad that he died the way he did.
With that out of the way, can we all agree that Harambe memes have crossed the line?
For the uninitiated, Harambe memes usually deal with an over-the-top love for the deceased gorilla. At the time of Harambe’s death, a lot of people came out of the woodwork to blame the parents, the zoo, and even the kid who got trapped in Harambe’s enclosure for his passing. The memes that arose later often satirize how much people valued the life of a gorilla above the life of a human child. In a bizarre blend of the sincere and the sarcastic, it’s sometimes impossible to tell if the meme poster truly worships Harambe or if they’re mocking those who do.
Surprisingly, according to Google, the meme has exploded in popularity as a search term in August. Usually, memes have a short shelf-life: they pop up, they enjoy a moment in the sun, and then they fade away. The Harambe meme should have disappeared by July. Instead, it’s only grown more popular — and, now that everyone’s on board the Harambe meme train, it’s gotten out of hand.
“We are not amused by the memes, petitions, and signs about Harambe… Our zoo family is still healing, and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward more difficult for us. We are honoring Harambe by redoubling our gorilla conservation efforts and encouraging others to join us.”
Of course, this made everything worse. The zoo got so much harassment after this statement came out that they deleted their social media accounts. Thousands of Twitter users went on to tweet some variant of the following:
What really took it too far, though, was the Harambe suicide meme. As reported by BuzzFeed’s Brad Esposito, a number of “joke” Facebook events popped up with names like “Jump for Harambe,” “Jump off the Harbour Bridge for Harambe,” and “Jump off Telstra tower for harambe” (sic).
I get what the joke is supposed to be: people love Harambe so much that they’re literally driven to suicide by his death. But — and I hope I can say this without getting called an overly-sensitive SJW — suicide is absolutely not funny.
What makes it even worse is that these are all locations well-known as suicide spots in Australia, where the story was reported. I doubt that anyone will be driven to actually end their lives because of an internet joke, but making light of the real-life deaths of real-life people is not okay.
So, enjoy your Harambe memes while they last. Feel free to tweet #dicksoutforharambe whenever the mood strikes you. But maybe don’t joke about suicide or hack someone’s Twitter? Can we agree on that?
What do you think? Has the Harambe meme gone too far? Let us know in the comments below or @WhatsTrending on Twitter!