Meet the queen of intersectional memes
I’m sitting in a room with half a dozen teenage activists when one of them mentions a meme. I'm the oldest person in the room and the first one to ask: “Wait, what am I missing?” “Oh, you don't know Goth Shakira? She’s so on point,” one of my younger friends jumps in. They pull out their phone, tap rapidly on their screen, and victoriously thrust the device into my hands. I scroll through the feed, which is filled with J. Lo, Selena Gomez, and other pop icons hilariously accompanied by detailed captions on the experience of being a young Latina feminist. “You have an Instagram. How is it you don't know about her?”
Known as the high priestess of dank memery, Goth Shakira reigns. The 25-year-old lives in Montreal, but lately she has been making a huge splash all over the internet. Walking the line between highbrow and lowbrow, the obscure, familiar, and the esoteric all sit together on Goth Shakira’s feed. Mercury’s in retrograde, the etiquette of polyamory, smash that like – if you’re young and woke there might be something in there for you.
We talked with Goth Shakira about her fans, her inspirations, and where she sees the whole meme thing going.
How did meme making become a creative outlet for you?
Last winter, I was struggling with seasonal depression and eschewed from IRL human contact in favor of spending time online. Retreating into relative solitude has always been how I process my feelings and emotions. I had just experienced a big romantic disappointment, had a mundane job and was sitting in my very small and humble studio apartment on my secondhand furniture. Meanwhile, I was in my mid-20s seeing my peers move in with their partners and buy cars and pay off their Visa bills. I felt like a really big loser and I figured that I might as well accept my loserdom and find a way to laugh about it.
I became obsessed with memes and eventually started making my own, thinking that maybe my close girlfriends would find them funny, but mainly doing them as a way to make fun of myself in a self-deprecating way. After I made two or three I realized that making them was incredibly cathartic, and so I started getting deeper and more personal and specific, like a diary. I was saying all the things I had been thinking and feeling for a long time, but rendering my thoughts and feelings in the absurd and banal format that is the meme somehow made them seem less intimidating. They were, and still are, a tool to help me take myself and my “grievances” less seriously.