Welcome and welcome back to the fall semester, fellow students! I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m really pumped for this semester. I’ve got some great classes lined up with interesting topics. Best of all, I have some really fantastic professors teaching my classes this semester.
But I’ve also had my fair share of not fantastic teachers in the past. Definitely in high school, yes, but even here in Queens College, there have been a couple of professors who’ve made me feel like the White Guy Blinking GIF.
Look, sometimes even a great professor makes ridiculous demands or just says something that leaves you scratching your head. For situations like these, the Internet has graced us with one of my favorite memes: Unhelpful High School Teacher. Picture the SATs (if you can bear to) in meme form: “Choose the most correct answer.” How is that a valid form of instruction for an exam, both you and I ask. Well, the bad news is that I honestly have no answer. The good news? There’s a meme for that.
Once upon a time, someone stumbled across a stock photo of a teacher pointing at a map of the American half of the world and decided that her smile was a little bit too patronizing. Out popped a meme, and that’s the origin story of the Unhelpful High School Teacher. Supposedly, this is the very first ever example of this meme in use:
Ah, the requirement for 3-ring binders—now that’s an elementary school throwback! Of course, there are plenty of examples of Unhelpful High School Teacher (UHST for short, because that’s a lot to type) that don’t involve fifth-grade level references. There are these, for example:
Amusing—and relatable!—as these UHST memes are, they’re not without their problems. Consider the issue raised by an article on Complex.com regarding the sexism inherent in specific memes. Are they right in saying that the UHST “is really the ‘I resent
being educated by a woman’ meme?” When I said earlier that her smile is patronizing, I’ll freely admit that my opinion is affected by the use of the UHST meme. But is that opinion a reflection of a societal categorization of female teachers as patronizing? Is it true that this is an inherently sexist meme? Imagine if we changed the image of the teacher to one of a male teacher. Would the meme still have the same effect?
And then, of course, we come a problems that we have with all memes: are these images in the public domain? Am I even allowed to use these images in this blog? We can even forget the meme aspect of the UHST for a minute. What about the stock photo that’s being used? Does that belong to someone? According to the database knowyourmeme.com, the image was taken from Corbis Images, a company that no longer exists in that form. The images it owned are now owned by Getty Images, so is this picture owned by Getty? How can we trace if this was a commercially-licensed image if the company that provided it is defunct? How do we give the stock photo model credit? Besides, who is she? What’s her name, where is she, and has she had any benefit from her photo being used across the Internet? The questions go on and on.
The more we talk about the UHST meme, the more we discover that there is a lot to talk about. And that’s true of just about any popular meme, as I intend to explore through this blog. Memes can be light and entertaining, but that doesn’t mean we can always take them so lightly.
But we’ll have plenty of time to discuss the heavier side of memes. For now, let’s see what sort of UHST memes you can produce from your personal experiences. Submit your examples in the comments—but remember, this is a public forum, so please try to keep it clean and inoffensive. And get hyped for more dank memes!