Kyle Rittenhouse and the Shared Meme Networks of the Armed American Far-Right: An Analysis of the Content Creation Formula, right-wing Injection of Politics, and Normalization of Violence

This paper analyzes the meaning of iconography that constitute memes by reviewing a collection of memes propagated on social media related to the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting of protestors in Wisconsin. The authors collected 355 images from 37,774 tweets, supplemented by images found in Facebook groups, militia forums, and right-wing meme repositories related to Kyle Rittenhouse. The paper leads with an introduction to the American “alt-right” movement and the Rittenhouse shootings. The paper’s methodology deconstructs each meme into a set of constituent parts. This provides a process for classifying memes based on their templates, “aesthetic,” branding, events, iconography, and seemingly ambiguous references. This allows researchers to better attribute memes to specific socio-political and cultural groups, analyze the intent of the messaging, and situate memes in the broader knowledge base that, over time, solidifies into its own entity with its own kind of social and political agency.

Tags: Facebook groups, iconography, Kyle Rittenhouse, militia forums, right-wing memes