Unlike the gorilla himself, the Harambe meme simply will not die.
Since the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo in late March, the Harambe meme has jumped the shark dozens of times over. We have tribute songs from anonymous YouTubers, aspiring rappers, and award-winning artists alike. There are themed cocktails and fratty tweets calling for “drinks out for Harambe,” itself a play on the now-infamous “dicks out for Harambe” Vine starring Danny Trejo. Cartoon villain Martin Shkreli has chimed in on the trend, and the volume of memes based on Harambe caused the Cincinnati Zoo to shut down their social media accounts.
And finally, at the end of the meme rainbow, an ASMRtist has decided to reenact a futile emergency surgery to save the wounded gorilla.
For the uninitiated, ASMR is a poorly understood phenomenon described by those who experience it as a feeling of “brain tingles.” It’s usually triggered by soft speech, crinkling or tapping sounds, or close personal attention. The ASMR community lives almost entirely on YouTube, where hours-long videos can still soak up hundreds of thousands of views from people seeking out this pleasant sensation.
Some ASMR videos are a benign collection of noises. Others feature a role-playing element, with the ASMRtist (as they’re called) pretending to be a ophthalmologist, hair stylist, cartoon character, or, in this case, a veterinary surgeon. And, based on the way Bluewhisper repeatedly refers to Harambe as “big buddy” while staring straight into the camera, in this role play, you are the expired ape.
The surgery ends with Bluewhisper promising you (a gorilla) that you’ll be sent to a sanctuary and integrated with a new tribe. It’s sort of unclear if this is her attempt to rewrite his death through fiction, or more of an allusion to a great big gorilla enclosure in the sky intended as comforting words to a dying animal. Either way — yikes!