Three weeks ago, an Auckland-specific meme page sprung up on Instagram, poking fun at the city’s sub-scenes, particularly the more pretentious aspects of inner city hipsters’ lifestyles. Metro rang two members of the group Lordauckland to try and pin down just who they are and what they think they’re up to.
There are two ways you could describe who exactly Lordauckland is - or rather, are. The two young men representing the collective I spoke to via Skype do not give their names and obscure their faces for the entire interview. If you take the balaclava-clad boys at their word, Lordauckland is a group of nine guys with an average age of about 31 who love making memes and are planning on getting very wealthy from it. At least two of them were working toward a gender studies degree at Auckland University until one dropped out to pursue meme making full time.
The page’s alleged origin story is almost disappointingly easy to guess: “We have a lot of banter in the group chat and we decided to start posting it on an Instagram account and it just grew from there,” one of the two tells me. “We’ve just been friends for life. Just like you know, the usual meet at Coco’s Cantina or Peach Pit, have some brews, eat some spaghetti.” They like taking the piss out of people who “aren’t super self aware, and super cliquey and always flexing on Instagram”.
The pair are surprisingly polite during our chat, and adamant that the teasing tone of their posts is meant to be affectionate, not nasty. “We’re not going to poke fun at someone’s pride and joy,” they say, adding that they won’t make the joke if they think it will actually hurt someone’s feelings. They say they’ve declined younger people from becoming page administrators because they’re too obsessed with “edgy humour”. “You know, 4Chan stuff.”
They allude to collaborations coming up (Eat Lit Lordauckland?) and claim they’re going to make a lot of money from the page, though they are vague on the details of how. Sponsorships, apparently.
Because I am always on high alert for being bullied by teens (a term I apply to anyone more than two years younger than me), I am keenly aware that what the pair of lords have told me is me is total bullshit. I mean, gender studies? That’s textbook “SJW” trolling. A certain kind of young, extremely online male finds it incredibly funny to basically lie through their teeth and see what the gullible media will publish with a straight face.
Justifying dropping out of uni to pursue a meme account with a couple of thousand followers, one of the Lordauckland crew insists it’s a good idea because “it’s such a new industry that people haven’t really capitalised on it”. This is either an almost sweetly earnest and optimistic view of what a project which came out of group chat banter could deliver, or a parody of the exact kind of delusion which makes you cringe with shame when you see an old school friend try to become a #vanlife influencer on Instagram. The fact I can’t tell which makes me feel old.
The duo claim the group creates memes from 9am till midnight, and they sift through the group chat to select and stockpile the best ones for the ‘gram. “It’s like being a musician. You make 100 songs and one album,” one of them says. The memes vary in quality, but some - like the satirical Laneways festival poster - are pretty well executed. They are definitely putting effort in with their photoshopping.
During our interview, the pair appear hyped about the growth and impact of the account. “‘Influencers’ is thrown around but for us it really truly is what we are. Our content influences Auckland humour now,” one of them claims dryly. Do they… really believe that? Maybe it matters less whether or not they’re trying to set me up to look silly and more about whether or not they’re actually funny.
Reactions online to the page have been mixed. Some memes land better than others. A Drake frowning/ pointing and smiling meme about not wanting a simple black Warehouse t shirt but being happy to pay more for an identical one from AS Colour is funny because it hits that sweet spot where just a large enough number of people will see something specific about themselves and go “oh god, that’s me”. Others, like one about My Food Bag “bringing all the boomers to the yard” seem too broad, unoriginal or lacking in insight. And a couple are so obscure as to confuse rather than entertain (I had to ask for an explanation of one about Good As Gold, which is never the ideal outcome for a joke). In any case, they are unphased by their haters, who have “freedom of speech” to slate them, they say. “Criticism makes the world go round.”
“When we’ve crunched the numbers… we’re totally confident we are funny.”