The Secret Life of a Music Meme Admin: "I Shitpost to Get People to Think"
Meet the creator behind Facebook's 'Mumble Indie for the Pop Star Soul'
Published Apr 09, 2021If you're a pop culture fan who uses Facebook, chances are you probably follow more than a few music meme pages. Maybe you're one of the over 100,000 followers of Mumble indie for the pop star soul (or its Instagram cross-posting sister, @a_listgeocities), a meme page dedicated to "shitposting, charts and hot takes" concerning all things entertainment.
As a part-time meme maker and full-time internet aficionado, Mumble indie's Texas-based creator and sole poster Asaad Lewis runs a handful of meme accounts on Facebook and Instagram, generating his own original content and aggregating the dankest pop culture .jpegs the internet has to offer.
Lewis spoke with Exclaim! about running his various profiles, how he engages with his followers, the inherent meme-ability of industry disrupters like Phoebe Bridgers, Kanye West and Charli XCX, plus the surprisingly edgy stan culture surrounding Taylor Swift.
So you're an administrator of a couple of Facebook meme pages. Which ones do you run?
One of them is more of a pop culture one, primarily music and film, but sometimes it's just Gen Z humour. That one is called Mumble indie for the pop star soul. And my other meme/shitposting page is kind of more full-time leftist stuff. It's called Comrade Teen Vogue.
Both those pages have pretty intense followings. Do you find that running the pages is a lot of work in your spare time?
Sometimes. It just kind of depends on what's going on in the world and in music and pop culture. Some days I just have to post a lot. Like if I feel inspired to make memes, I'll share a bunch of memes randomly. And other days I take a more of a laid-back approach. Like if I have a lot going on, I'll schedule a couple of posts that I think are [good] for my audience. Sometimes it's more hands-off too. It depends on how I feel that day.
You're pretty involved in the meme community. Do you have any friends that are also shitposters or meme admins?
I have a friend, his name is Tyler. When I first met him, we had gone to a concert at a now-defunct venue in Richmond called Strange Matter. We saw Waxahatchee, and I think there might have been kind of one other kind of Midwest emo/indie-rock band. He shit posts a bunch. He actually got interviewed by The New York Times [about] this group on Facebook called New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens.
Do you find in your own spaces that the more controversial posts are the ones that feed the algorithm and make them more popular because maybe they're a little bit edgier?
Sometimes. It depends on how you define edgy and how you define controversial. [For instance] I don't really understand why we still reward Tarantino movies. Like, he's not really doing anything new.
Society has moved past the need for Quentin Tarantino?
Exactly. But I mean, at the end of the day, this is entertainment for people. It's kind of like back in 2015, [when] Kanye did a song with Rihanna and Paul McCartney, and there was this whole joke about how Kanye made Paul McCartney famous. And I thought that was hilarious.
Unfortunately, there's this set of people who — I always say Boomers, but there actually is a bunch of millennials like this too — I'm not sure if they just don't really get it's a joke or if they just take themselves too seriously. But they just got really upset and they just assume that you don't know what you're talking about or that you're 100 percent serious. Like, "Oh, you don't know who the Beatles are?" Almost everybody knows who the Beatles are if you're exposed to Western pop culture.
The unfortunate nature of the internet is that irony doesn't always translate the way that you want it to. Is that something that you find you contend with a lot?
Yeah, sometimes. I don't like to take it too serious. Like, there's definitely a line between controversial and downright offensive or rude or purposely putting things down. Sometimes I shitpost to get people to think too. I mean, I don't think it's too much of an issue nowadays, but I do think it's an issue that music criticism tends to reward cis white men who make more money and have the opportunities, which I think is really unfortunate. I mean, I liked [the Beatles] for a time growing up too. But I can't imagine being one of those people who just stopped there. There's also alternative and left-field pop or rap that I think kind of gets dismissed. And I think a lot of that does, unfortunately, have to do with gender and orientation and race. I'm always kind of impressed with the zoomer generation and how K-pop has really become a dominant force in music. And it's interesting to see how TikTok and trends like cottagecore influence music.
For the end of the year last year, you did a bunch of bracket polls. What were the top albums from those polls and which ones came out as the winners?
[There were] more than 110 albums so I just did simultaneous rounds of sets and I tried to cover all the genres, from indie rock/pop to trap, to pop music and then maybe some of more left-of-centre genres like hyperpop and emo rap. Quite predictably, [one] of the albums that came out on top on my page [was] Phoebe Bridgers' album from last year, Punisher — that actually got the most votes. Much to the dismay of all the Charli fans that follow my meme page. In 2019, when Charli was released, I made a bunch of Charli memes. I also created a Charlie XCX meme/shitposting thing on Facebook called Charli XCX No.1 Angelposting. Sometimes there are some cross-posts between my page and that. [Taylor Swift's 2020 album folklore] did pretty well on my poll. I was actually surprised that folklore didn't get in my top four. For my audience, Taylor Swift is still a very polarizing figure.
That sounds like that's more a representation of your follower base than what seems to be the consensus of everyone else, which is interesting. You have a stronger indie base, maybe?
I could see that. I know I mentioned Charli XCX No.1 Angelposting, but I also help admin this group called Sometimes I think Phoebe Bridgers is a killer. And she actually — I mean, I don't think it was actually her, it was probably just her management — but her page is actually in that group. So it's just kind of interesting to see, because I definitely do have a lot of Phoebe fans as you know — it's evident in how she won that poll. So I feel like maybe their tastes... Some of them, they really like Taylor Swift a lot. I mean, Phoebe Bridgers herself likes Taylor Swift. At least, I can see a thread between Taylor Swift's more intimate, but kind of populous songwriting and Punisher. I think Stranger in the Alps was more of a slow burn album for her. I think Punisher has more apocalyptic themes; maybe it sounds a little bit more friendly I guess.
It's definitely more marketable.
She's almost like a meme herself in a lot of ways.
Especially her Twitter.
Exactly. I think about memes and shit posts and how they inspired me. In a way, I feel like you can trace that back, that kind of self-aware, witty persona [Bridgers] has. You can trace it back to other musicians like Taylor Swift. I think that crowd's a bit different though. It's kind of more of a Tumblr and stan culture. But I think that there's definitely some parallels between Swifties and Phoebe Bridgers. The audience is slightly different.
It seems like maybe a Phoebe stan would be more inclined to be a part of a shitposting group or possess that sort of irony where maybe a Taylor Swift fan is slightly less self-aware or ironic.
I think that you've got to have the audience for it. I feel like nowadays, those groups owe a lot to the somewhat kind of cultural leftbook. Even forums back in the day, like in the 2000s, [that] had that feeling, you know, like MySpace and then 4chan. You can see the natural progression. I mean, unfortunately, 4chan is like... pretty bad.
We've sort of moved into this like monocultural space where 4chan and places like Tumblr have sort of merged. Obviously, you've got the severe alt-right sect of the 4channers, but there's this new common space now. You still probably wouldn't find Swifties on 4chan.
Maybe! There was this thing where people suspected that she was a 4chan user. I think it was pretty unlikely that that was her, but then sometimes you see crazy stuff.
Because of the nature of the meme format, it's pretty hard to credit people. Do you have a process for crediting meme creators or does that even factor into it for you?
Yeah, it definitely does. I definitely try to be aware of that stuff [especially] with the whole FuckJerry controversy. I think it was pretty messed up how he just kind of stole memes. It's definitely important to give credit and when you can.
What are your favourite meme pages (besides your own)?
Kanye West Lyrics Posted Randomly, Sapphic Film Nerd, My dad is a pigeon, Listening to Playboi Carti does make you a genius and Suave Meme Stash.