We spoke to the infamous Landlord Bear, a capitalist meme run amok

Your new favorite meme is sick of your excuses.

Feb 29, 2020, 7:02 pm*

Internet Culture

 

Mary Emily O'Hara

Where there is rent to be paid, there is Landlord Bear. 

What started as a simple meme parodying rent hikes, gentrification, and the evils of private property, has grown into a full-fledged persona with a maniacal appetite for cash, fame, and honey by the jarful. 

The cruel, nihilist humor of Landlord Bear—as featured on a Facebook page with a small but steadily growing and obsessed fanbase—tackles the kind of fat cat developers currently reorganizing cities all over the U.S. by evicting renters, tearing down buildings to build shiny new condos, and generally making people’s lives miserable until they give up and move out.

But who is Landlord Bear, really? What motivates the hungry, salmon-fueled capitalist (besides money and honey)?

We sat down with the emerging internet star to find out more—and nearly got mauled to death in the process.

The Daily Dot: So tell me, where is Landlord Bear from, and does it involve family money?

Landlord Bear: Doesn’t it always involve family and money? I am just a simple hardworking Landlord who built himself a small multinational empire of caves and condos with his bear hands. Those bear hands being the Arthur K. Sherwood Construction Company, LLC. That’s a lot of hands. That is like 75 hands. All attached to tenant bears who I pay a fraction of their salary back to so they can afford to pay their own landlord’s rent. But to answer your question, yes—only stupid people and muskrats forget to inherit their money.

I am just a simple hardworking Landlord who built himself a small multinational empire of caves and condos with his bear hands. 

How many properties does Landlord Bear own and in how many cities? Also is Landlord Bear a man bear?

Who are you? The tax-otter?

As a journalist it’s my duty to ask these questions. We’re just looking for a sense of how big your empire is, that’s all. Are you refusing to answer the question, Mr. or Ms. Bear?

I am, of course, a male bear. As we all know, property rights are not arbitrary things but natural laws. Just like animals have territory, animals also pay rent. This rent is paid, by natural law, from the tenant bears to the Landlord Bear, who is always male and has been since before my Great Grandpa Bear was forced to diversify our families holdings after the Bearshevik Revolution in Russia. 

Don’t get me wrong, though: the Soviet Bears were phenomenal landlords. They didn’t fix anyone’s toilet. They made the entire economy about paying them rent. I love America, but here you have to grease palms. The Soviet Bears just cut out the middleman and did the landlording and the stating themselves. Never been another buncha landlords like that.

I see that Landlord Bear has been in the news a lot (USA Today seems to really love you). Why is it important that the headlines be about landlords and bears instead of useless things like gentrification, poverty, and mass evictions?

Well, everyone wants to be a Landlord and a Bear. No one wants to be a family of evicted rabbits who for whatever reason cannot seem to STOP HAVING CHILDREN. Seriously, their burrows fill up so fast, they really bring it on themselves. So if rent-paying humans work hard enough, and pay enough attention to the lives of rich and famous bears, and pay rent on time EVERY MONTH, no doubt one day they will stop being humans and in fact become Landlords, and also bears. 

Another reason, of course, is it’s important for landlords to be in the news because journalists like you think you’re too good to shit in the woods. And on that point I really appreciate you renting time with me. I mean spending rent with me. I mean… how much am I getting paid for this interview again?

What does Landlord Bear have to say to renter’s rights activists who want things like rent stabilization and control, who want rents to stay low enough that they match the decrease in American wages over the past couple of decades?

 I really appreciate you renting time with me. I mean spending rent with me. I mean… how much am I getting paid for this interview again?

Get off my property. If people want their rent to be affordable, they should stop being poor. It’s not as hard as people think, to inherit wealth and power. I mean I did it, and if this bear can do it, anyone can. Like you have no idea how much honey I ate in college. I’m honestly surprised I’m still standing here.

Mr. Bear, you alluded in an earlier email that you might actually be a bear costume with three children or “hippies” standing on each other’s shoulders inside. 

Did I say that? I must have had at least a jar of honey right before I emailed you.

Let’s talk about bear things then. How about rent-controlled salmon fishing spots? Know of any?

Salmon are terrible at paying their rent on time. That’s why they’re not allowed on the land anymore. They offer all sorts of excuses of course, but they all smell fishy.

But… then what do you eat?

Leaves, roots, tubers, grasses, berries, and other vegetation, and insects, but my main diet consists of tenants who don’t pay their rent on time. Which, I’ll admit, is usually Salmon.

Well, the insect part is convenient for a landlord. So tell me, what can the world expect from Landlord Bear this fall? Any new developments?

It can expect to pay me rent, on time, every month, or I’m tacking on a surcharge.

Speaking of surcharges, have you made much money off the Landlord Bear meme generator? It’s $5 a meme, right? Plus online publishing royalties?

Oh man, A TON. Enough to add an extension onto my cave. I’m adding carp to my piano key pool, and my garage now has a SECOND gold-plated rocket car. Which I bought so I could have something to race against my first gold-plated rocket car. Because seriously, the first was just gathering dust all by its lonesome. Also, my fridge is stocked with honey—oodles and oodles of honey—want some? I’m having some.

I’m afraid that would compromise my journalistic integrity, Mr. Bear. But thank you.

*sticks his nose in the jar* OH MAN, that is amazing. You have no IDEA what you’re missing.

Also, my fridge is stocked with honey—oodles and oodles of honey—want some? I’m having some.

One last question before I let you go back to lording your lands: can you tell us about BearBnB and why you’ve been promoting it so much?

Whoa, I can HEAR rent being paid… Oh BearBnB? I love BearBnB. You’d think that I as a landlord would hate competition but that’s just the thing—it isn’t competition, it just drives up property values and encourages humans and bears alike to monetize parts of their caves. Things that used to be free are now generating rent, rent that is paid, to the friendly neighborhood landlord bear. 

What’s also great about it is BearBnB is not responsible for safety, or sanitary conditions, all that liability is held by the tenant and BearBnB gets to sit back and collect rent off the top. So it’s like, getting rent from rent… meta-renting, if you will. Hey, how much am I getting paid for this interview?

You’ll have to negotiate that with my editor… Mr. Bear? Hello? Landlord Bear? Are you still there?

Photo via LandlordBearIsHere/Facebook | Remix by Jason Reed

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*First Published: Sep 25, 2015, 11:00 am