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Animal testing is a serious issue that stirs up strong emotions. In some cases, it advances medical science, and in others it just advances capitalism. You’d think it’d be hard to turn something like that into a lighthearted, funny summer meme, but one genius on Reddit seems to have pulled it off.
The “these companies test on animals” meme, introduced July 7 by redditor evmars, uses a simple four-panel formula. The first, largest panel shows a poster from dog advocacy group the Beagle Freedom Project, featuring the logos of companies that allegedly test their products on animals. But one company has been sneakily added to the original poster, and we spend the second and third panels zooming in on it. Soundcloud? How do they test that on animals?
The fourth panel reveals the punchline: a Chihuahua wearing earphones. No animals were harmed in the making of these homemade Soundcloud trap beats.
Not only is it a cute joke, it’s a solid format that’s not hard to replicate. Some of the earliest imitators decided to stick with the Soundcloud concept, replacing the Chihuahua with other animals, like a dancing dog:
Some added their own new companies to the mix. The best was this one, where a dog tests Guitar Hero. Too cute!
Others zoomed in on logos that were already on the poster, imaging what those companies’ products would look like if tested on dogs:
Some of them were more troubling than others. Imagining that Purina might test its dog food on dogs, for example, didn’t seem to bother anyone. And what kind of animal is Raid bug spray being tested on? Let’s hope it’s a bug:
The final stage of the meme, as with many memes, was to make an anti-joke. Instead of zooming in on one of the brands, this version zoomed in on the beagle in the corner. What happens when you test beagle on beagle?
me irl pic.twitter.com/gLKZ7eXOie— me irl (@ItMeIRL) July 7, 2017
Animal testing memes are a fairly narrow format, but they arrived on Reddit at the right time. After the site’s meme war with news network CNN began to die down, a void in content opened, and animal testing memes started to fill it. As a sort of rebound meme, don’t expect them to stick around for long, but do expect some more clever entries.
The meme is mostly cute and upbeat right now, but it’s also easy to imagine it being used to criticize a company memers don’t like. Here’s the more insular and obscure direction the meme is starting to go in: just a collection of companies that dank memers will recognize, with no other discernible theme.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.