By David Futrelle
You may have noticed a strange explosion of highly surreal memes hitting your Twitter home page of late. Blame the Artificial Intelligence-powered meme generator that you can find here, which will happily generate as many weird and baffling memes as you could ever want.
Now, the meme generator is a fairly basic thing, in principle: it takes in hundreds (thousands?) of human-generated memes in a variety of formats before pooping out something it doesn’t understand, but that we humans might.
Given that the AI-meme-generator literally doesn’t know what it’s saying, most of the memes it puts out tend to be a bit puzzling:
And sometimes it doesn’t seem to understand the meme format at all:
But alongside the surreal memes, the AI-meme-generator somehow manages to spit out others that make perfect (or at least only slightly imperfect) sense. I’ve been fiddling around with it for awhile and have been surprised and intrigued by these memes, which seem very much like the memes an actual human might produce on their own.
Indeed, these memes make a lot more sense than many if not most of the Men’s Rights memes I’ve run across (and written about) over the years — despite the fact that the MRA memes were generated by actual human beings who, at least in theory, should know what they’re saying.
Let’s look at examples from both genres — contrasting some of my, er, favorite MRA memes with memes the AI-meme-generator made for me.
Let’s start with this authentic MRA meme:
Apparently the thought process behind this, er, hilarity is: “Women are stupid! And rape is funny! Sharks!”
This AI-generated meme makes a lot more sense:
I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a nice hot dog once in a while?
Here’s an MRA meme taking aim at women in the military:
Contrast that with this cheerful and wholesome AI-generated meme:
Again, the AI hits the nail on the head. Everyone loves to see people talking about their cool stuff.
Here’s a dark and bewildering MRA meme:
I suppose the message here is supposed to be “even if she says she’s not a feminist, she might secretly be one, and falsely accuse you of rape.” But I’m not sure anyone not steeped in MRA-talk could discern that.
Also, why is “radical/white” in ironic quotes?
By contrast, this next AI-generated meme, while admittedly rude and perhaps a bit sexist, is as clear as a (school) bell.
This MRA meme may leave you scratching at your head as you try to puzzle out its strange “logic.”
This AI meme, by contrast, makes so much sense it hurts.
In the world we live in today, who has the patience to wait until you get home to get sloshed?
So why are MRA memes so illogical and incomprehensible? Part of the problem is that reality is not on their side, and so many of their memes only make sense if you’re already living in the imaginary world of the Men’s Rights movement, where black is white and mean, bitchy women rule over all. I know enough about this world from the many years I’ve spent doing this blog that I can usually make some sort of sense of most of their memes, but I still struggle with some of them. It doesn’t help much that many MRAs are bitter bastards choking on their own aggrieved entitlement; their attempts at jokes are undercut by their meanness and their barely developed sense of humor.
The AI may not have a sense of humor, but it’s also unencumbered by all this baggage, so when it pops out with something that’s funny, it’s genuinely funny.
Congratulations, MRA; it’s official now: You’ve failed the Turing test.
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