Glenn Danzig v. The Internet

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE – PART FOUR PART FIVE

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As social media and internet culture has evolved, memes have become one of the most popular ways to get a laugh among your personal network, while also connecting with a larger group of people. About a year and a half ago, the Danzig Memes Facebook page opened and has since go on to gain more than 50,000 “Likes.” Doc Metal, Danzig Memes creator, explained the page’s popularity: “[Danzig Memes] had a few hundred likes until I made the meme about that crazy woman who refused to issue gay marriage licenses. I put her face on Danzig’s and captioned it “Mother, tell your children not to marry gay” and the page literally went viral.” Often with multiple memes posted daily, Danzig Memes features riffs on Danzig’s various internet infamies, spoofs of other trending memes or current events, or other parodies of his long-cultivated image or music. The biggest hit on Danzig Memes was created by Bexar Bellamy, who asked simply, “Danzig or Sigourney Weaver?” The meme went on to get more than 70,000 “Likes” with a post-reach of 2.5 million.

Danzig Memes isn’t the only venue where you can find Danzig imagined as a Dr. Seuss book or as a kitty litter toting superhero, there’s also Keep on Danzig. A group page of more than 800 members, Keep on Danzig provides a forum for where fans can connect, share their memes, and discuss all things Danzig with virtually no limits. I originally joined the group to laugh at the memes and post silly comments, but it didn’t take long before I was creating my first Danzig meme. It was too much fun for me to resist.

As I became somewhat entrenched in the world of Danzig fans and Danzig memes, I also became curious why Danzig fans tended to find Danzig so funny. Danzig is no-nonsense. Danzig fans…pro-nonsense? Sure. And this is what I found interesting. So, I conducted some very scientific, loosely structured interviews with seven members of the Keep on Danzig group. I selected these members because they either frequently produced great memes or had made enough comments for me to know they were Danzig fans, not just self-gratifying trolls. I wanted to know if they were really Danzig fans and, if so, why did they enjoy making fun of him so much? I also found it the perfect opportunity to see how other fans opinions on the Danzig image mirrored or contradicted my own.

If you’re a fan, why do you make fun of Danzig?

On the surface, this is a relatively straight forward question. JW Watson, who runs the Keep on Danzig group, told me “Glenn Danzig is a fun target because he gives everyone the impression that he has no time or interest in the frivolity of humor or jokes, and he certainly does not seem like a guy who appreciates being the butt of any jokes. That just makes it all the more hilarious.” Or as Dede Gonzalez put it, “making fun of a man that’s spent his entire career proving how evil he is when he’s just a normal dude with lifts in his boots and a manga tramp stamp is just funny as hell.”  These sentiments echo my own or at least back up the case I’ve crafted thus far, but others were more careful in qualifying their statements.

Joe Thurston, a frequent meme contributor, was among the first to say, “I don’t think I make fun of him so much as I pay homage to the man and the music that has been such an influential force in my life.” Bexar Bellamy also added, “I don’t always make fun of him, sometimes I make him look badass. Still, I guess I spoof Danzig because he should be a relevant pop culture figure and this provides him millennial exposure.” Or as Brad White clarified, “even though Danzig is the butt of the joke a lot of times, I never mean any of it as an insult to the man himself.” 

These statements indicate that not all Danzig memes are jokes on Danzig – or at least they’re not created as an opportunity to hate. Superficially, one could conclude that the majority of the Danzig memes find Danzig in a funny light, but sometimes it’s just more simply about the meme itself, as Brad White points out, “I don’t just make fun of Glenn Danzig. I make fun of pretty much everything.”

Nevertheless, everyone unanimously agreed that the ultra-serious Danzig image has made him ripe for the meme treatment. One of the most prolific Danzig meme artists, Snip Jackson, said “I am poking fun at a well crafted and purposeful image that Danzig seems to have crafted for himself.” Considering both the carefully crafted image of evil and Danzig’s internet history, Brad White expands on this, “It’s the tough guy image despite being 5’3″…the evil persona, yet he’s cuddling with his cat…those gloves he sometimes wears…the bricks…the kitty litter…it’s the perfect storm of demonic bad-assery melting into comedy gold.” Indeed, the Danzig cult of personality has manifested a backfire in the context of what the kids are doing these days.

Interestingly, some identified Danzig’s more embarrassing moments as a means of seeing him as a regular guy, rather than the infallible Prince of Darkness. Dede Gonzalez: “[Falling] off his dark pedestal after getting KO’d and literally falling off stage made us all realize he’s just a normal every day person. He’s vulnerable and gets embarrassed and has insecurities like we all do, it just took a long time for any of us fans to really see it – thank you internet and cell phones!” I’m certain Glenn Danzig despises the notion that smartphones make it possible for him to be photographed carrying kitty litter, but is the end result possibly a good thing in the long run? Unwittingly exposing his real-world self to his fan base may in fact result in them becoming even more rabid.

This idea was driven home by Doc Metal, who said “Satire is another form of flattery. All the artists that submit their work have a love for Danzig and all of his projects. This is our way of showing admiration.” It’s probably not in the form that Danzig would prefer, but it’s hard to believe he couldn’t be somewhat impressed in the sheer number of memes his fans have created. JW Watson sums it up, “although we take potshots at the guy and have a bunch of laughs at his expense, as a whole, my members and I absolutely adore Glenn Danzig. We love him as a whole not just in spite of his grumpy bastardly ways, but also because of them.”

When I began charting Danzig’s history with the internet, I thought the Danzig memes concept would be the most recent phenomena on his rather unflattering timeline. Instead, it seems to be much more. For one, Danzig memes are mostly created by Danzig fans who simply desire more Danzig. Secondly, considering the feedback from my respondents, it seems that this trend could potentially be a good thing for Satan’s child. He may not like it, but Danzig memes are increasing his exposure in our ever-changing world of technology and social media. We may in fact be witnessing a paradigm shift in Danzig’s history with the internet toward the positive. To the uninitiated, it may come across as a joke, but I wonder how many of them may also begin to explore his music out of the curiosity generated by a meme.

J. Kevin Lynch

SPECIAL THANKS-Bexar Bellamy, Thom Bennett, DeDe Gonzalez, Snip Jackson, Doc Metal, Joe Thurston, JW Watson, and Brad White for supporting this article with their art and/or insights.

Notes – Featured Image by JW Watson.

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Glenn Danzig v. The Internet

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE – PART FOUR – PART FIVE

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