The Brief: As the Coronavirus pandemic has led to widespread job loss and economic turmoil, organizers are sharing memes to raise awareness about an April rent strike.
Tenants across the U.S. and beyond are organizing an April rent strike to demand economic protections including a rent freeze during the Coronavirus pandemic. One way they’re doing this is by creating and sharing rent strike memes on social media.
Over 3.28 million Americans lost their jobs last week, many of whom will struggle to pay rent. Some state and local governments have taken measures to ban the enforcement of evictions during this crisis, but many renters remain unprotected and risk going into debt. As COVID-19 prevents people from physically gathering, social media and memes, in particular, are serving as a vehicle to draw awareness to and form coalitions for this impending strike.
This decentralized movement has supporters around the nation and internationally, demanding that governments put moratoriums on evictions, enact rent freezes or cancelations, freeze utility bills, pause mortgage payments, and ensure that renters are protected. Among these demands, many advocates are also asking for measures to be taken to ensure the health and safety of the most at-risk members of society including people who are incarcerated, disabled, undocumented, and/or experiencing homelessness. Although there is no monolithic movement, there are a range of coalitions formed around common missions and locations such as #CareStrike, Rent Strike 2020, and CrimethInc.
Online, new meme accounts are popping up, organizing accounts are using memes as a major method of communication, and popular meme accounts are sharing information about the #RentStrike on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and Reddit.
Rent Strike Memes
These memes use a variety of popular meme formats and jokes to advocate for rent strikes and related actions.
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Alt text: a white background with two side-by-side images of Dr. Phil at the bottom. On the left, he appears as his cherubic, charlatan self, smiling with not just his eyes, but also his veneers. Above this photo is the text, in black, “What if I told you I had a script for you so it was super easy to call your local government and start putting pressure on landlords from all sides? Haha… jk.” In the adjacent photo of Dr. Phil, he is raising his eyebrows at his audience, a playful glint in his eye. In this photo he is all business below the mustache. Above this photo is the text, “…unless..?.?”
After Britney Spears posted on Instagram about the redistribution of wealth and a general strike, she’s become a symbol for COVID-19-related care and strike movements.
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Follow @carestrike AND START ORGANIZING WITH YOUR FELLOW TENANTS!! [Image description: A young Britney Spears with her arms slightly raised in the center of a faded orange background with the words “the time to rise” above her and the words “is now!” at the bottom . The hastag “rent strike” is above her right hand and “care strike” is over her left hand. There are flames behind her and a yellow circle behind her head like a halo. In the top two corners are the words “April first”]
A Rosa rent strike meme:
A Carl Wheezer & Shrek meme: