This was a very strange time for Bill Cosby to encourage people to combine their own words with his image.
I made the same face. #CosbyMeme pic.twitter.com/iyuh0okjoQ— Sean Campbell (@Melanism) November 10, 2014
After all, there's more buzz now than ever before about the many sexual assault allegations that women have made against him over the years.
Comedian Hannibal Buress has even been incorporating a hard-hitting bit about bit the topic into his routines, telling audiences, "That shit is upsetting. If you didn't know about it, trust me, if you leave here and google 'Bill Cosby rape.' That shit has more results than 'Hannibal Buress.'"
Despite all this, the formerly beloved Cosby Show star unveiled a #CosbyMeme Generator on his website Monday. That's right. It lets users add text to photos of Cosby (and it didn't take long at all for people to circumvent the, "After generating your meme, it will be submitted for review" bit by simply taking screenshots of their creations and sharing them).
Go ahead. Meme me! http://t.co/uM3KSji8or #CosbyMeme pic.twitter.com/9PbpQqz33X— Bill Cosby (@BillCosby) November 10, 2014
Things went downhill, fast, with statements related to the rape allegations eclipsing innocent ones about Jell-O or ugly sweaters.
A meme generator — particularly one based on photos of a comedian making goofy faces — is a really clumsy tool for serious commentary about a sensitive topic. So it's no surprise that some responses were immediately criticized for blurring the line between antagonizing the accused and making light of sexual assault in general.
But the spirit of the reaction overall seemed to harness the "Meme me!" suggestion to send a clear message: if Cosby thought he could avoid scrutiny of his alleged conduct, the real joke was on him.
Here's some of what happened:
.@BillCosby This is fun! #CosbyMeme pic.twitter.com/O1ScpMBzqA— Matthew Bramlett (@matthewbramlett) November 10, 2014
these #CosbyMeme tweets are full of BURN. damn. Bill really thought we were going to let those 13 rape allegations that we know about slide— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) November 11, 2014
RT @Shugah: Welp. RT @dvminixk: #CosbyMeme @BillCosby pic.twitter.com/o9Tpfth4UZ— ProfB (@AntheaButler) November 10, 2014
Bill Cosby says... #CosbyMeme pic.twitter.com/c26XAGoXe7— db (@dbenjeman) November 11, 2014
RT @hueyknew: #CosbyMeme @BillCosby pic.twitter.com/vLMUAtQhry— Jasmine Guy (@thejasminebee) November 11, 2014
No way #CosbyMeme happens by accident. Somebody on his publicity team hates him. A lot.— Rachel Hartman (@_rachelhartman) November 11, 2014