Season 1 | Episode 7: "Mythmaking"

In this episode, the Zeugma team explores the various ways "myths" are made and spread via digital and analog technologies. We consider the prevalance of Internet cat memes, including some based on foundational cultural myths. Additionally, Axel Bohmann interviews documentary maker Ben Steinbauer about his film Winnebago Man, which focuses on the spread of a pre-web meme. Axel then chats with University of Texas graduate student Anne Stewart about her work tracing the spread of myths about birth control on the Internet.

A word of warning that some segments of this episode contain adult language that may be inappropriate for some listeners. You can stream the episode using the player below and download it via LibSyn or on iTunes.

image created via QuickMeme

Episode Producer: Axel Bohmann

Today's episode focuses on ways in which various technologies facilitate "mythmaking": the creation and spreading of various forms of cultural memory and myths.

Axel begins the episode by considering the mythical significance some have granted to the Internet itself. Next, Zeugma team members Eric and Hala talk about one of the Internet's most visible mythical creatures: the cat. Working toward a "unified feline theory," Eric and Hala try (and fail) to figure out what makes cats and cat memes such ubiquitous presences on the web. Is it about cuteness? Absurdity? Cosmic meaning?

Next, Axel interviews documentary maker Ben Steinbauer. Steinbauer's 2009 film Winnebago Man revisits a pre-Internet meme that spread via VHS tape. Axel asks Steinbauer about the significance, history, and ethics of memes and the ways they become part of our cultural myths and memory.

Finally, Axel talks with University of Texas graduate student Anne Stewart. Stewart conducted a project tracing the spread of myths about birth control on the Internet. She talks with Axel about how such mythmaking unfolds.

And, as promised in the episode, we've provided links to a few of the cat memes discussed in our "Unified Feline Theory" segment below!

Amy-Mae Elliott's "Why Does the Web Love Cats?"

Nyan Cat

Cat Flushing Toilet

The LOLCat Bible


Ceiling Cat

Basement Cat