It only took 266 popes and the invention of the internet, but the Vatican has finally found itself at the center of a viral moment that doesn’t explicitly focus on the darkest aspects of its diseased institutional behavior. Thanks to the hard work of the social media devout, centuries of tradition have culminated at last in a meme where Pope Francis, arms raised, presents Twitter users with anything from Aerosmith records to bad tweets.
The format is simple. Four images of Francis’ noggin and hands are uploaded to Twitter alongside whatever else you feel like putting into his grasp. The look of spiritual concentration on his face automatically renders the proffered item holy. Like all good memes, the possibilities here are endless. The pope can be holding up any nonsense imaginable.
Or he can be celebrating some of humanity’s greatest artistic and literary accomplishments, like Aerosmith’s Honkin’ On Bobo, memorably stupid tweets, or the body of the great pink monster, Kirby.
Probably the best variations on the meme, once the simple joy of a seeing a powerful religious leader offering the world assorted junk has passed, play more directly into the fact that the meme features not just any old man, but a spiritually and politically significant old man.
And yet, as with so many memes, it’s those who think outside the box that often get the most out of the joke. Rather than agonize over the funniest thing Francis can be holding, Vic Berger chose instead to rearrange the images in just such a way that we get witness the birth of a fleshy papal orb.
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