'Disgusting' Titanic Submarine memes spark outrage and debate over 'gallows humor'

The Titanic Submarine voyage has unintentionally sparked an age-old debate thanks to a series of “disgusting” memes made in response to the terrifying tale.

Internet memes are nearly as old as the World Wide Web itself. But the past decade has seen these small, often humorous visual images take on more significance outside the webosphere. Targeting everything from politics to pop culture, conspiracy theories to celebrity gossip, there’s no cultural corner that memes can’t infiltrate.

So, it’s no surprise that memes about the terrifying missing Titanic Sub quickly made their way to platforms such as Twitter. What was more surprising, however, was the debate that ensued about the limits of humor and class politics. Let’s take a look at how some small memes unravel a much larger problem.

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Titanic Submarine memes spark debate over ‘what can be funny’

Down to their widespread accessibility, made possible by social media, memes have fast become a large means of social commentary. This follows the same trajectory as newspaper cartoons before them.

Such memes embrace a satirical spirit to comment on the issues du jour, making the missing Titanic Submarine an obvious target.

The response to these types of memes, however, has reignited an age-old debate about sympathies directed toward the privileged classes. It has raised questions about what is and isn’t considered ‘funny’ or what is not acceptable to joke about, with some judging the Titanic Submarine memes as merely “gallows humor” and others using it to ignite class debate.

A Twitter user who describes themselves as a Marxist brought into the debate juxtapositions of the working and middle class.

Whereas others wanted to highlight the rare news story that has unfolded over the past few days. As search teams work tirelessly around the clock to find the missing sub, the world has been on their edge of their seats, fearing the worst and thinking of those involved and their families.

Another Twitter user pointed out: “It’s a goofy as hell story, you don’t have to pretend you have some moral reason for finding it goofy as hell.”

Missing Submarine memes pave uncertain path for future news

Another byproduct of the Titanic Submarine discourse is that of how we receive news. One concerned Twitter user believes this incident gives insight “into how Twitter will handle future news events.”

Memes and individual opinions can take prescience over breaking news from reputable and verifiable sources, depending on the user. This has fuelled more doubts about how information is passed online in an increasingly uncertain internet landscape. With many Gen Z and Millennials reportedly getting their news from influencers and TikTok, the intake of news is evolving past beyond the days of Donald Trump’s Fake News rant.

Other social media users are concerned the recent changes in Twitter and mass redundancies are putting pressure on individual timelines. Following huge layoffs in teams that would fact-check misinformation on the platform, it has stirred fears that content will go unmonitored and unreported.

As of Thursday, June 22, 6pm GMT, the Titanic submarine has not yet been located or found. The last contact with the watercraft came on the morning of Sunday, June 18. Reports say the remaining oxygen supply was estimated to have run out by 8ST Thursday, however, there are many factors at play on a direct time when this would happen. The US Coast Guard operation is still underway and the search still active, in a bid to expand the search and rescue capability of the sub.

The submarine story echoes Titanic tragic past

The parallels between the recent Titanic Submarine expedition and that of the sunken ship are too blatant to ignore. Despite occurring over a century apart, both voyages saw some of the richest and most influential figures in the Western world embark on a rare journey that faced tragedy.

One Twitter user pointed out concerns over “history repeating itself”.

The parallels were made even more uncanny when it was revealed Wendy Rush, who is married OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, is related to two first-class passengers who died when HMS Titanic sank. Rush is the great-great-granddaughter of Isidor and Ida Strauss, a couple who died in the tragedy. They were depicted in James Cameron’s 1997 retelling of the Titanic laying in bed holding each other as the ship sinks.

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