We’re not quite sure what to make of this. A meme has emerged comparing Oscar Pistorius, who stands accused of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, with the plot-line of the Star Wars prequels.
On the one hand, we know that memes are becoming an important means of disseminating news. It’s not news as we know it though, as objectivity isn’t even a consideration.
In comparing the recent events surrounding Pistorius to those which drove Anakin Skywalker to become Darth Vader, this particular meme is very deliberately aligning itself with a particular version of the story.
If you haven’t seen the film, Skywalker uses the dark side to choke his wife Padme unconsciousness after accusing her of betraying him. That aligns very neatly with what some thought Pistorius had done when Steenkamp died in the early hours of 14 February.
If I Can Haz Cheezeburger founder Ben Huh is to believed however, that kind of subjectivity isn’t a problem when it comes to online content. He reckons a cultural shift is taking place, where once mighty news sources such as CNN and the BBC are no longer the custodians of truth. He even went further to say that ‘objective truth’ is a dangerous concept and is just a short skip away from corrupt media censorship:
I think it’s my job as an entrepreneur to create systems and platforms that encourage that kind of creativity in serious content also. That’s what my role is. It’s not about worrying about how do we directly influence. Give people tools to do more.
Slightly more concerning though is when a meme, like this one, aligns itself (most likely inadvertently) with another version of the story that is blatantly untrue. In the fictional Star Wars universe, Padme only died after giving birth to twins Luke and Leia Skywalker. In the real world meanwhile The National Enquirer reported that Steenkamp told Pistorius that she was pregnant to placate him after he accused her of cheating on him.
Steenkamp’s family categorically denied that was the case, but to anyone following the minutiae of the case and familiar with Star Wars would more than likely make the connection and find it tasteless.
None of those concerns however will stop this meme from appearing on Facebook timelines, image boards and Twitter feeds around the world. As renowned lecturer and author Clay Shirky notes, “People like to create, and people also like to share”. And the mesh of pop culture and news means that this meme is going to be shared. A lot.