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When you find out you have a hot dog: Why AI-generated memes make more sense than those produced by MRAs

TFW you’ve just posted an incomprehensible MRA meme

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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Victorious Parasol
4 months ago

@Naglfar

The GIF that keeps on giving.

@Alan

Oliver’s a good presenter, which probably explains why he’s currently working on making a living as an actor outside of YouTube.

You may enjoy this instead:

Allandrel
Allandrel
4 months ago

@Rabid Rabbit

Thanks for the Mithras link, it’s one I expect I shall need this and every Christmas when those memes show up again. There seems to be a particular breed of Dunning-Kruger that manifests when talking about other people’s religions.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 months ago

@ Vicky P

You may enjoy this instead:

I did! Thank you. The information is much more palatable in short song form.

(If the Ramones had done more stuff about Calculus I’d probably be better at maths)

Naglfar
Naglfar
4 months ago

@Allandrel

There seems to be a particular breed of Dunning-Kruger that manifests when talking about other people’s religions.

I find this is especially prevalent when it comes to the “New Atheist” movement. Most atheists I know are fine people and I get along fine, but there’s a certain breed of atheist that follows in the footsteps of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and manages to be annoying in a lot of the same ways as and sound quite similar to the religious fundamentalists they claim to hate. Plus, a lot of “New Atheists” dug deep into some very not-new phenomena like racism and misogyny.

@Alan Robertshaw
I feel like the main reason there aren’t more songs about math is to do with the difficulty of singing formulas and equations. Though I do recall that in school I was taught the quadratic formula to the tune of “All Around the Mulberry Bush”:

“X is equal to negative B, plus or minus the square root, of B squared minus 4 A C, all over 2 A”
Which is certainly easier to recall thancomment image

There is a genre called math rock, but it’s called that due to the use of odd time signatures and extended chords, not the subject matter.

Victorious Parasol
4 months ago

@Naglfar

You realize I have to bring up this song now:

Contrapangloss
Contrapangloss
4 months ago

There is one excellent song about math out there. Tom Lehrer is one of my all time faves, and I’ll never not jump on an opportunity to share the joy:

http://youtu.be/UIKGV2cTgqA

Edit: Ninja’d by VP!

Contrapangloss
Contrapangloss
4 months ago

Side note, I kinda like Kahn’s animation style because it makes the video a little more approachable and less clinical, but the song is great no matter who made the visual aids.

I am sad that my embedding skills were lacking. Just when I think I can relax on html-ing these comments, I get proven wrong by a format fail. 🙁

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 months ago

@ naglfar, Vicky P & contrapangloss

Heh, thank you for those. I very much liked the Tom Lehrer one. Even if the actual maths bit just went over my head.

But you all inspired me. So I’ll start off. Anyone want to fill in the gaps?

One – Metallica

Two Little Boys – Ted Morse

Three is the magic number – De La Soul

99 Luftballons – Nena

Allandrel
Allandrel
4 months ago

@Naglfar

One thing that I have seen happen a lot, not just with New Atheists but with others who rejected their parents’ religion, is that they retain what their parents taught them to believe far more than they realize.

You know the type, who seem convinced that all Christianity (or even all religions) are exactly like what their parents believe, leading them to lecture others on their own beliefs.

I’ve had this conversation any number of times:

Atheist Asshole: All Christians believe X.
Me: That’s not correct. I’m a Christian, and I don’t believe X, I believe Y.
Atheist Asshole: No, ALL Christians believe X. Therefore, you are lying and really believe X.

(I have also had the same conversation with any number of Christian assholes, except that they respond with “No, ALL Christians believe X. Therefore, you are lying and are not really a Christian.”)

This most often happens with the historicity of the Bible – the Evangelical claim that “Either all of it is literally true, or none of it is true. Either Lot’s wife transformed into a pillar of salt, or God does not exist.” They came down on the other conclusion than their parents did, but they never rejected the premise, and get enraged when they discover that many Christians never held that premise in the first place.

On the Dunning-Kruger aspect, whenever an Internet Atheist declares that they’ve studied my religion more than I have, I like to start off with questions like “What are your thoughts on Documentary Hypothesis versus Supplementary Hypothesis?” They generally have no idea what I’m talking about, and it gets even better when I start asking Quaker-specific questions, because usually all they know about Quakerism is… well, nothing, or errors like thinking we are extinct or Anabaptists of some sort.

(Seriously, I’ve had multiple people say “HAH! If you’re really a Quaker, why are you using a computer? Aren’t you supposed to avoid technology? I’ve caught you in a lie and thus disproved everything you have said!”)

Naglfar
Naglfar
4 months ago

@VP, contrapangloss
I’ll confess I wasn’t aware of that particular song. Thanks for enlightening me.

@Alan Robertshaw
The Four Horsemen – Metallica
Take Five – Dave Brubeck
Six Weeks – Of Monsters and Men
Seven Days – Bullet for my Valentine
(Can’t think of one for eight)
Sorrow Throughout the Nine Worlds – Amon Amarth (a bit of a stretch, so I also can suggest Revolution Nine by the Beatles or Figure.09 by Linkin Park)
10 Years Today – Bullet for my Valentine

12th Rising – Naglfar (not me, the band)

46 & 2 – Tool

One Thousand Burning Arrows – Amon Amarth

That’s what I can think of now

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 months ago

@ naglfar

I’ll offer this one for eleven. Still trying to think of an eight one.

Victorious Parasol
4 months ago

I offer this for eight:

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 months ago

So the irrational numbers don’t feel left out.

Rabid Rabbit
Rabid Rabbit
4 months ago

@Allandrel

(Seriously, I’ve had multiple people say “HAH! If you’re really a Quaker, why are you using a computer? Aren’t you supposed to avoid technology? I’ve caught you in a lie and thus disproved everything you have said!”)

o.o … That’s a new one on me. Impressive. Ah, the ignorance of those who know best.

I mean, if I were in a silly mood and talking with a friend who was a Quaker and able to recognize my silly moods, I’d ask whether Quakers are allowed to visit Reddit, or just advised not to, given how hard that place makes pacifism. But that’s a specific case.

Anyhow, all of History for Atheists is great for dealing with New Atheists, as well as just fun in its own right. It’s written by a guy who 1) is an atheist, 2) actually knows what he’s talking about and 3) really, really doesn’t like people talking out their asses. Of course, this gets him in trouble, because a lot of what he ends up doing is pointing out that things Christians are accused of having done aren’t actually true. His eviscerations are delightful, particularly of Dr. Richard Carrier PhD (who has a doctorate, you know).

Lainy
Lainy
4 months ago

@boysvoice

You didn’t thank me on mine and my nonlooks match offspring. That’s very rude of you.

Masse_Mysteria
Masse_Mysteria
4 months ago

So MansVoice thinks that the lurkers are falling for his shtick when no one else is? Shocking turn of events, and offensive to lurkers.

What part of your “implicit” answers to direct questions are the lurkers most in awe of, do you think?

Personally, my favourite is the part where you said you had never called women indecent in the given context, and answered not at all when a quote of you calling women indecent was presented. Also, the instant classic of assuming that a song fitting the situation means that the song is literally about that particular situation and nothing else. Such genius in our midst, truly.

@Lainy
Be reasonable. I’m sure he’s congratulated you implicitly. You just have to go back and read more carefully.

Naglfar
Naglfar
4 months ago

@Masse_mysteria
I’m still waiting for him to answer my question about why he thinks lurkers on a feminist blog would be interested in what he’s trying to sell.

Also, the instant classic of assuming that a song fitting the situation means that the song is literally about that particular situation and nothing else.

And this was also from the same fellow who said that metaphor can be generalized to a wide variety of things when Cyborgette pointed out that The Matrix was originally about rebelling against patriarchy and heteronormativity.

Personally, I would argue that the greatest metaphors are almost necessarily nonspecific, because they must articulate some universal aspect of the human condition.

Apparently this is only the case with metaphors he likes.

Allandrel
Allandrel
4 months ago

@Rabid Rabbit

That site definitely looks like one that I will put a lot of time into reading.

Moon Custafer
Moon Custafer
4 months ago

@Naglfar:

There is a genre called math rock, but it’s called that due to the use of odd time signatures and extended chords, not the subject matter.

Huh. So, like if Dave Brubeck and his Quartet had lived a generation or so later and played rock rather than jazz?

@Alan Robertshaw:
96 Tears — ? and the Mysterians (which I believe is pronounced “Question Mark and the Mysterians,” but in my head I always hear it as “Huh? And the Mysterians”)

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 months ago

@ moon custafer

Ooh, I didn’t know that was by ?… I always thought it was a Stranglers song!

But listening to the original now. I like it.

Naglfar
Naglfar
4 months ago

@Moon Custafer
Math rock is definitely related to jazz and takes varying degrees of influence, but it’s a lot more dissonant than anything Brubeck put out.

MansVoice
MansVoice
4 months ago

@Masse_Mysteria:

So MansVoice thinks that the lurkers are falling for his shtick when no one else is?

Well, if the lurkers are as mindkilled as you all are, probably not. But such people aren’t going to be won even by Cicero. The goal is to appeal to people who are willing to listen. (Again, I’ll remind you that this is exactly what Alan – one of your own – already said.)

Now, are there actually any winnable lurkers around here? I don’t know. But it’s not inconceivable.

(Also, look: it’s not like I made some calculated decision to contribute based on some elaborate algorithmic prediction. I mostly just read the post and wanted to participate, so I did. I’m just explaining why I’m not overly bothered that most of you aren’t convinced – because I don’t think you’re convincible.)

@Naglfar:

What do metaphors have to do with anything?

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 months ago

OMG he’s still here. And comparing himself to Cicero. HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH

MansVoice
MansVoice
4 months ago

OMG he’s still here. And comparing himself to Cicero. HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH

Nope! Again, this is the sort of thing I don’t bother to engage with, because good-faith people will understand why it’s stupid.

An Impish Pepper
An Impish Pepper
4 months ago

The MansVoice Saga in a nutshell:

“Nuh-uh! I don’t take you seriously!”

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

The most nonsensical kind of trolling is when they spend all their time telling their trolling targets some version of “I’m too good to talk to you.”

First of all, what does it even accomplish?

Second of all, if the troll really thought they were good to engage with their trolling targets, they just wouldn’t post at all. I mean, I know I wouldn’t lower myself to post at all in Breitbart’s comments sections. Why waste my time?

A Man’s Whine trolling score?

comment image?w=474&zoom=2

MansVoice
MansVoice
4 months ago

Seriously, what is it with liberal millennial women and those stupid pop culture gifs? I don’t get it. I guess we can probably trace it back to Buzzfeed, but I didn’t really get it there either. What do they ever add to the conversation?

Masse_Mysteria
Masse_Mysteria
4 months ago

@Manvoice

(Also, look: it’s not like I made some calculated decision to contribute based on some elaborate algorithmic prediction. I mostly just read the post and wanted to participate, so I did. I’m just explaining why I’m not overly bothered that most of you aren’t convinced – because I don’t think you’re convincible.)

See, I knew you could elaborate on things you said before. That’s great! Could you please answer previous questions about looksmatching for same-sex couples and explain the context of your comment about women being not decent? That would be even better!

And regarding the gif thing (totally only ever used by women!), you don’t really add much to the conversation either, but here you are.

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
4 months ago

Oh, BoysHavering (sorry, no, lets just go with manly manly MansVoice, so frightfully manly one is positively in awe) thinks we’re millennials! That’s actually pretty funny (well, it raised a chuckle, anyway).

MansVoice
MansVoice
4 months ago

@opposablethumbs – Well, I think WWTH is a millennial, because she’s posting those dumb pop culture gifs that only millennials ever use. Am I wrong? (No.)

(If she were a Boomer, she’d be posting left-wing chart brut.)

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

A Man’s Whine,

A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s not a new concept. It’s only quickly popping a gif into a comment box that’s new.

Also, the majority of the time, I only use gifs to respond directly to someone when they’re a particularly sad sack troll. For one thing, they tend to annoy you. For another, a long wall of text is more effort than I care to spend on you.
comment image

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 months ago

@dipshit

Considering that I annihilated your stupid, stupid, stupid “science” article as the opposite of science, and you totally ceded that, I’m sure any lurkers still knocking about this thread have formed an opinion about you from which you can’t, at this point, recover. It’s too late for you.

Naglfar
Naglfar
4 months ago

@MansVoice

What do metaphors have to do with anything?

You got rather annoyed with the song that isn’t literally about this very moment, but you like the metaphor of The Matrix being applied counter to its original intent.

@Masse_mysteria

Could you please answer previous questions about looksmatching for same-sex couples

MansVoice, yes please do this.

MansVoice
MansVoice
4 months ago

Considering that I annihilated your stupid, stupid, stupid “science” article as the opposite of science, and you totally ceded that

You didn’t, and I didn’t. I just trust that most normal people will see that your argument was bad. If you had made a better one, I would have engaged you more directly. (Though as I said earlier, I did effectively respond to your criticism, albeit pre-emptively – obviously you weren’t able to locate that post, but again, I don’t care what you think.)

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

I also posted reasonable critiques of that “science” article which were similarly ignored. Not much of a point in continuing to respond in anything other than gifs and/or mockery if the more measured posts don’t get a real response.

comment image?w=474&zoom=2

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 months ago

You didn’t, and I didn’t.

Yes, I did, and you did cede the issue by not bothering to respond to it. The lurkers you want to win over know the truth, dude. You’re not a scientist and wouldn’t know science from a lemon.

Masse_Mysteria
Masse_Mysteria
4 months ago

@MansVoice

I just trust that most normal people will see that your argument was bad. If you had made a better one, I would have engaged you more directly.

So you wouldn’t even want to amuse the lurkers by pointing out what was wrong with the arguments? I bet many of them were all “Ooh, I want to see what he says to this one!” and just got nothing. I pity the poor lurkers who were all rooting for you, and had to see you seemingly concede the point by not addressing it.

Though as I said earlier, I did effectively respond to your criticism, albeit pre-emptively

Before you said you’d done it implicitly. Are there other words you’d like to use instead of “not at all”?

ETA: So basically what PoM said.

MansVoice
MansVoice
4 months ago

@Masse_Mysteria:

Before you said you’d done it implicitly. Are there other words you’d like to use instead of “not at all”?

It can be both, you know.

But also, I’m officially bored with this weird meta-argument.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 months ago

But also, I’m officially bored with this weird meta-argument.

I’ve been bored with you since I realized you had no comeback for me whatsoever. Trolls are amusing when they try to ape intelligent people, but you just step back and claim victory after having done nothing. It’s like you never matured out of third grade.

Masse_Mysteria
Masse_Mysteria
4 months ago

@MansVoice

It can be both, you know.

Both “implicitly” and “not at all”? Honestly, I would never have guessed that.

Are you about ready to tell us why you comment during the work week?

LindsayIrene
LindsayIrene
4 months ago

I notice that the troll has forgotten about Generation X.

Victorious Parasol
4 months ago

@Policy of Madness

Well, I’m chuckling at his apparent belief that this board is dominated by liberal millennial women. So he’s got at least that much entertainment value. But that’s not much.

ETA: LindsayIrene, yeah, I noticed that, too.

Gaebolga
Gaebolga
4 months ago

Masse_Mysteria wrote:

Are you about ready to tell us why you comment during the work week?

But he already did:

BoysWhine wrote:

Hint: it’s not because we don’t leave to do other things.

Actually, I sort of think that’s exactly what it means.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 months ago

@Victorious Parasol

Well, I’m chuckling at his apparent belief that this board is dominated by liberal millennial women. So he’s got at least that much entertainment value. But that’s not much.

It goes paired with his belief that we are all unemployed. There’s a lot to unpack in that, but I can’t be bothered to do that kind of work for someone who won’t appreciate it.

Victorious Parasol
4 months ago

@Policy of Madness

I hear that. Besides, a lot of his stuff doesn’t need to be unpacked, just looked at for more than 2 seconds.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 months ago

@Victorious Parasol

You’re right in that most of what he says is about as deep as a wafer of mica, but every now and then he says something that is laden with preconceptions and assumptions, and it’s my instinct to look critically at stuff like this.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
4 months ago

Oi, got a bit to catch up on, having been busy…

@Snowberry, Naglfar, regarding cryonics, et al:
Fictionally, there was an interesting story called ‘Between the Strokes of Night’ which involved slowing down biological processes massively to something like 1/2000th normal. Interstellar trips would take decades, but the slowed down crew would perceive it as days. Needless to say, most of the ship was actually run by robots, because there was no way the humans could react fast enough. Ships operated under microgravity so things like falling speed would ‘seem’ normal.

Also, needless to say, in the real world chemistry doesn’t work that way.

@Alan, regarding cosmic jets:
It was actually one of the interesting early validations of relativity: some highly unstable particles generated via cosmic ray interactions in the upper atmosphere could survive to the ground level for detection because they were moving so close to the speed of light that not enough time had passed for them to actually decay yet.

@MansVoice, regarding Elon Musk:
Musk is a man who is so convinced of his own genius and so thin-skinned that he deliberately set out to trash the reputation of an expert in rescue operations because said expert slighted Musk by saying they didn’t need the unbuilt, untested, and even on paper unworkable equipment he suggested. I appreciate that he is spending at least some of his money on big-ticket items that nobody else with enough resources is pushing, but the man needs a serious dose of humility.

(And if the cycle of history repeats, Tesla’s days are probably numbered anyway. Now that it’s been proven to be doable, the big auto manufacturers with lots more manufacturing capability and connections are already moving in.)

Also, Slate Star Codex… ahh, that takes me back. A friend of mine used to mine there for story ideas, because they came up with such interesting thoughts that were rarely followed through well.

@Victorious Parasol regarding ‘The Lurkers Support Me in Email’:
Ahh, I remember that Jo Walton song. Don’t think I’ve ever heard her sing it, though I have met and talked with her a few times. (She runs a convention called Scintillation in Montreal, and I’ve been to both the times it has run so far. We’ll see if it happens this year.)

@Alan, regarding math songs:
I got beat multiple times over for New Math; of course, as both a songwriter and a math prodigy (and later professor) that shouldn’t have been a surprise from him. Lehrer did a few educational songs like that, one of the other famous ones being ‘Silent E’ which was on the old ‘The Electric Company’ TV show, for which he actually wrote something like ten songs.

I don’t know that They Might Be Giants have done any specifically math songs, but they have a tendency to do about one ‘educational’ song per album, the most famous being ‘Why Does the Sun Shine?’ (aka ‘The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas’, later reworked as ‘The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma’). They Might be Giants have done a couple of children’s albums that tended more towards silly but educational songs.

For that matter, Canadian band Moxy Früvous did a song called ‘Entropy’ which describes the first and second laws of thermodynamics:

Galileo, Netwon, Watt, they were genuises all.
Without them we’d be freezing in the dark at the mall.
James Joule found total energy remains the same
No matter what it’s form.
That’s why it carries his name.
[…]
Then why can’t we make a clean machine that moves perpetually?
Cause there’s another law with which all energy must agree.
Whenever it changes form, it loses quality (in other words…)
Damn that rising entropy!

Allandrel
Allandrel
4 months ago

I am strongly reminded of the metaphor involving trying to play chess with a pigeon.

Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
4 months ago

OMG he’s still here. And comparing himself to Cicero. HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH

Nope! Again, this is the sort of thing I don’t bother to engage with, because good-faith people will understand why it’s stupid.

But you did engage with it. Saying “Nope” is engaging with it.

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