The Situation Room icon and its Internet memes: Subversion of the Osama bin Laden raid and fragmentation of iconicity in remix culture.

  • Natalia Mielczarek Virginia Tech
Keywords: Internet memes, iconic image, remix culture, visual rhetoric

Abstract

The Situation Room photograph, which shows President Barack Obama and cabinet members watching the Osama bin Laden raid in 2011, remains the dominant official image of the event. Within hours of its public release, scores of Internet memes of the famous picture offered alternative interpretations of what had taken place in Pakistan during the military mission, often contradicting the president’s positive description of the operation. This qualitative interpretative study argues that many of the memes that proliferated through cyberspace symbolically subverted the bin Laden raid, disrupting and challenging its celebratory framing by the administration. The study highlights potential competition that Internet memes might pose to institutional accounts of the past and to icons themselves, suggesting possible fracturing of iconicity in remix culture.

Published
2020-05-11
How to Cite
Mielczarek, N. (2020). The Situation Room icon and its Internet memes: Subversion of the Osama bin Laden raid and fragmentation of iconicity in remix culture. First Monday, 25(6). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v25i6.10531