A peek behind the curtain of Queen’s meme factory

Three prominent student meme makers discuss their locally viral jokes

Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf in the meme factory.
Photo: 
Credit: 
Photo illustration by Josh Granovsky

The wildly popular dissemination of memes has forever altered the way our generation uses social media, relates to each other and communicates our thoughts. It shouldn’t be too much of a shock to discover memes have hit the Queen’s community in a big way.

The “Overheard at Queen’s” Facebook group, which has more than 30,000 members, has lately become a hotbed for campus-specific memes. During this past exam season, over 50 memes were posted by students in the group—easily beating the fall semester’s tally—and likes per post ranged from single to quadruple digits.

According to some of Queen’s busiest meme producers, creating these school-specific jokes begins the same way any other meme does: examining what’s popular online.

Urla Javier, ArtSci ’20, began making memes by applying the ones she saw online to the context of her university surroundings. Her video on Overhead, which was posted in March, portrays different Queen’s majors as viral Vines and currently sits at 1,400 likes.

“At first, I wasn’t really serious about [making the video],” Javier told The Journal, “but over the [next few] days I kept re-watching some compilations and I was, like, ‘Oh, maybe that one could apply to this major or program!’”

While Javier saw her video as a way to poke fun at the general perception students have of other majors, Lilly Kelly’s locally-viral meme had a much simpler goal: procrastination.

“There’s [a] relatively viral meme that takes [Bazzi’s] song ‘Mine’ and puts different images over it. A lot of the time it’s ironic,” Kelly said, whose video quickly raked up 1,200 likes. “So, our principal [Daniel Woolf] is meme-d a lot and he’s just got such a loveable, precious face.”

“I had three exams to write, so I was like: ‘You know what I’m going to do, instead of studying, to procrastinate? I’m going to make this meme video to demonstrate [Queen’s students’] appreciation and love for [Woolf].’”

While Overheard limits the reach of these memes due to a privacy setting, the levels of local fame still often surpass Queen’s meme-rs’ wildest expectations.

Noah Gennaro’s meme, which mashed-up a popular clip from Pirates of the Caribbean and video of a boat crowd-surfing on Aberdeen Street at a St. Patrick’s Day party, garnered over 5,000 likes, 400 comments and 1,800 shares.

“I totally didn’t expect [the meme] to get that big,” Gennaro told The Journal. “My friends and I always joked about getting [the] Overlord [GPA bar for 1000 likes] and such. But once I posted it, it just started going and going, and some of my friends at other universities had seen it.”

While this sort of internet fame does not appear to extend to real-world interactions, everyone interviewed for this article conceded having to mute their Facebook notifications in order to preserve their sanity.

Though memes are not typically intended for deep analysis, there is something to be said about the importance of a joke that’s able to bring together a significant percentage of the Queen’s population.

“[Memes] really [are] just a big kind of inside joke that everyone gets if you go to Queen’s and you were there or you see that,” Gennaro said. 

With the volume of Queen’s-centric memes on the rise, it’s safe to assume there’s no end in sight for this particular brand of school-related, socially relevant content. 

“It’s something that we can all relate to and kind of laugh at, whether it’s something serious or something not—like someone crowd-surfing in a boat.”

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