The deeper meaning of hispanic memes

31 May 2019
By: John Arévalo

Time isn’t moving any faster

Yet, it feels that way because we can exchange information across the globe in a snap. For me, I find it fascinating to see the diversity and rapid evolution of Latin America’s popular culture as new trends enter and older ones depart. There are many common features that unite and define pop-culture, including music, food, fashion, and of course the topic that inspired me to write this: Latin American graphic design.

Since day one, South America has been a continent permeated by foreign cultures. These influences, instead of removing identity, have actually enriched our self-expression. One of the most important movements of Latino and Hispanic designs came from the need to seek independence, to yearn for our very own space to express ideas and to do it in an impactful manner. This was where the revolutionary era of Mexican muralism found its identity. It became a new way to reach their people and be heard.

By freely expressing themselves, they encouraged others to find their place and achieve personal independence.

 

 

Mexico led the movement and the trend eventually spread to and throughout Latin America. The street was obviously the best vehicle to continue pushing the style, shapes, and colors by transforming public places into canvases to enact their ideas.

Whether the message was political or poetic, street art/graffiti became a phenomenon that can be found in the most remote corners of our countries. It comes to life on the most diverse surfaces, from walls to trash receptacles, public shops to transportation, and ultimately creates a solid, powerful, and culturally charged visual genre.

 

latino designs graffiti wall art hispanic memes in digital marketing pm3 agency

From neighborhood walls to the digital space

The need to continue expressing and stamping our culture’s personalities and idiosyncrasies are innate to every generation. It’s why street art became so popular. But, now that we have the internet, the process of discovering and adopting new things has been accelerated tenfold. One of those “things,” was a new format of expression that quickly gained popularity: Memes… Latin Memes, funny Spanish memes, political memes, and so on. At this point, it’s tempting to say there’s a meme for everything.

Memes of all cultures and genres are everywhere, but what’s the origin of their name? “Memes” received their name from a theory developed by a scientist named Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. In his research, Dawkins concluded that memes replicate and circulate in the same way as genes, because they are the minimum unit of information that can be transmitted and, in his interpretation, is the way in which cultural transmission is done. According to the Dawkins’ hypothesis, following the logic that supports the evolutionary process: “Memes spread through human culture as genes do through genetic heritage.”

Despite the word “meme” originating in the ’70s, we can see how modern-day memes have managed to make this cultural conversion. They follow the same communication code: critical, analytical, and fun, by adapting and making it our own. Thus building and spreading our own Hispanic memes!

 

At this point, it’s tempting to say there’s a meme for everything.

llama with turn down for what glasses hispanic memes in digital marketing pm3 agency
millennial attracted with memes as a digital marketing strategy pm3 agency

Memes as a digital strategy

This phenomenon has been capitalized on by digital marketers to engage with audiences in a different way. They use (with varying levels of success) a popular language that incites closeness and manages to improve their connection between brand and consumer. They can also bring more bad than good if a brand doesn’t use a meme correctly or “tries too hard.”

It’s crucial that companies know how to include them in their strategies before using them. Brands have to take advantage of them without losing the meme’s essence, which is the cultural richness that resides within the language. Memes must feel natural, fun, and original without being afraid of ridicule. Everything abides by this unwritten, yet ever-present, cultural code.

Like it or not, popular graphics like street art and Hispanic memes are a cultural product that naturally springs from our societies. They hail from our cultural hybridity, from our social/economic inequality, and from our perpetual struggle between chaos and order. Although popular graphics like memes are created, shared and consumed by every culture of the world, they truly are the perfect representation of Latin American multiculturalism, passion, and ingenuity.

¡Gracias!

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