(Extended Essays) M.A.
Essay 1: Memes are seen as digital elements that incite laughter, and the politics and cultural influence embedded is largely ignored. The effects of globalization are not absent in the production of memes, and a large number of memes used worldwide are created from Western cultural vehicles. Nigeria's film industry Nollywood, one of the largest in the world in terms of output, boasts of its dominance in Africa. However, it has not garnered the same audience globally as Hollywood and Bollywood have. The introduction and consequent virality of Nollywood memes in 2016 have put Nollywood in worldview. On YouTube, Nollywood films containing popular memes record millions of views. Using viral Nollywood memes as cases, I studied the impact of Nollywood memes on Nigerian films previously unknown outside Africa, and if they led to global interest in Nollywood. I presented a framework that emerged from this study that not only pointed to interest in the films but charted the path from memes to interest. Essay 2: The ubiquity of graffiti in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside has been condemned as a blight on the neighborhood. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the hike in graffiti tagging signaled that the neighborhood, reputedly the least desirable in British Columbia due to abounding socio-economic and health issues, was deteriorating further. This narrative of course, did not address the actual substantive content of the graffiti, but instead took graffiti as evidence of further social decline. The relatively few studies on graffiti have tended to focus primarily on the legal prohibitions or the aesthetic dimensions of graffiti. This study instead is concerned with the social communication function of graffiti as a framework and compares the artform to social media to establish its social communication function. A thematic analysis of seven samples of graffiti from the Downtown Eastside reveals that graffiti was used to communicate local social issues such as illicit drug use, and COVID-19 awareness. Furthermore, in the Downtown Eastside, graffiti performed social communication functions similar to social media, and is irrefutably and forcefully a medium of social communication.
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Thesis advisor: Laba, Martin
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