At some point while I was taking a break from some edits, I came across the “Cool Chick Carol” meme. Cool Chick Carol is a spinoff of the Good Guy Greg meme. However, while captions ascribe to Good Guy Greg a number of desirable characteristics like generosity and care for others, and desirable actions, such as saving kittens, most iterations of Cool Chick Carol are similar to the one above. The Cool Chick Carol meme reveals misogynistic, heterosexual fantasies of what might make a “chick” “cool.” While many of these focus on sexuality, others focus on stereotypes of feminine behavior, as in the case of the caption that reads, “Says nothing is wrong. Actually telling the truth.” As put by one Redditer:
Just a little rant: I like ‘memes’ and was all excited when I heard about Cool Chick Carol, but quickly realized she’s definitely not the female equivalent of Good Guy Greg. Apparently being a good guy means being a good person but being a cool girl means you like to suck a lot of dick. Maybe I should just find a stock photo and start a Good Girl Gail meme? [source]
The woman featured in the photograph is young and conventionally attractive, wearing rectangular eyeglasses and a Pac-Man t-shirt — touches of geek chic that separate the imagined Carol from more mainstream fantasies of the feminine. “Cool Chick Carol” isn’t just any misogynistic fantasy, she is a misogynistic fantasy deeply mired in the casual sexism of geek culture. And, because of the t-shirt and numerous iterations that reference video gaming, Cool Chick Carol is a misogynistic fantasy in which video gaming is implicated.
I didn’t rush to write a post about “Cool Chick Carol” merely because the meme is sexist. Sadly, incidents of sexism on the internet are too common to merit individual attention. Rather, I wanted to write this post specifically because of the ways the meme is being used to broadcast criticisms of the meme itself and of the people participating in its creation and distribution.
In one instance, shown directly above, the image is captioned with, “Reddit invents the perfect girl. Just a nymphomaniac.” With captions like these, the meme is turned back on itself and becomes a reflexive criticism of the misogynistic geek fantasy most iterations broadcast.
While these uses of the “Cool Chick Carol” meme against its initial purpose may prove a bit of an attempt to take down the master’s house with the master’s tools, they do provide an example of the way the iterative, crowd-generated nature of memes leaves them open to disruption and contortion. While the idea of starting a separate meme may appeal, flooding the Cool Chick Carol meme with critiques, and with non-misogynistic, or even pro-woman sentiments offers a more direct line of attack, as these messages could overwhelm and dilute or even drown out the meme’s current distasteful content.