I know, dear reader, that you have thought of this before, as I have; there may, in fact, be far more to the Ugandan Knuckles meme than meets the eye. Could it be that in this chaotic, disorganised vision of a cultural dead space, this wellspring of enjoyment is reflective of our times far more than was initially thought?
The Ugandan Knuckles meme encompasses, in truth and upon further inspection, a highly complex social structure. It has a diaspora of ethnographically observed motifs spawned forth from its hierarchies, with inner conflicts and philosophical, spiritual quandaries levied against the outside world from the safe confines of VRChat. After all, the people propagating the meme remain, if anything, human. And so from them, we may examine human nature.
For one thing, the acolytes of this subculture organise themselves into a diverse and very complicated hierarchy. It is quite hard to discern, but I believe Knuckles avatars sporting a blue skin as opposed to the common red are still part of the same clan, though there may be a position in the social system implied, which is possibly the “Ugandan Warrior” class. These will protect the Queen (more on her later). Yellow skin is likely the mark of “The Commander”, a high position seemingly not coveted but accepted with humility by new initiates. It is likely that they frequently cycle this position over a short term in office and they do this because their true calling is to form a party capable of locating a female monarch. They operate under a Sacral Democratic Monarchy, for they elect a Queen and will follow this Queen under the belief that she will grant them sacred knowledge of “The Way”. The requirements for this position are few and, at times, scant or plentifully observed depending on the weeaboo and anime fan presence in the Chat Room. She need only be female, Japanese idol-like (Hatsune Mikus are frequently accosted), or Moe – fluorescent-haired preferable.
Once they find a Queen, they will fawn over her and begin to voice their contentment with an a-linguistic motif. This is ‘clucking’, a vocalized ‘clock’ sound, as an aspirated glottal /’klɒk/ made with the tongue behind the teeth (very culturally unique) and would be called in linguistic anthropology a non-verbal acoustic call, conveying emotion. If the Queen can be found to have led them astray, the roving pack of miniatures will engage in a ‘spitting’, to indicate their rejection of this false divine saviour. They demand respect for the Queen, crave her love but will also spit on her. Unfortunately, Ugandan Knuckles politics is far too complex to outline here, but it is apparent that conflicts of interest are quite common. Splinter groups forming as different female players displaying a lolicon aesthetic are frequently happened upon and hailed, willingly or no, as the next holy monarch.
In the anthropology of religion, The Divine Right, or Holy Mandate to rule is a frequently observed feature of cultures on planet earth where church and state are one. We might point in this case to the cause of such a phenomenon seen here with this meme format being a growing atheistic worldview in our society. As we feel a detachment from the spirit, we see the humorous taking on the responsibility of the severe, in a nervous rebuttal of the empty, godless nation-state. For how can we have faith in leaders who possess no faith themselves? Of course, such practices in the West date back to pre-Christian, Pagan Europe, a paradoxically dark, yet ethno-nationally enlightened time.
The Ugandan Knuckles Clan members’ spiritual path, The Way, is a nomadistic, possibly nihilistic, and devotional philosophy of the self defined by space and sovereignty tied to one’s destiny. In anthropological terms, this is a Durkheimian consideration of how society maintains coherence and integrity in the modern era, when traditionalism is lost and replaced by less organically defined economic, social institutions. A brother is kin, a member of the clan provides a sense of belonging, the love found in belonging to one’s nation allows for the fortitude necessary to sustain it. To ask, “Why are you running?”, is to wonder how a friend can flee his destiny. Why doubt oneself? This exemplifies a unique rudimentary cultural Kismet ideology.
The Ugandan Knuckles clans seek only to find meaning and satisfaction in their existence by being close to their Queen and their spiky brethren. This anthropological sense of self is defined as and functions by the mechanisms of Cultural Memory. If they find one of their flock to have strayed from The Way, or to be in any manner unholy, they will voice sympathy and announce: “We must pray for this one, my brothers”. Such camaraderie reflects a beauteous, shared heritage in shouldering the burden of life with one’s ethnocultural peers, a sentiment sadly lacking in today’s society, and it ought to be observed! One might say it is the trauma of meandering about, in search of one’s home which acts as what we call in anthropology a “rite of passage”, serving the purpose of bonding together a generation of young men that they may go out into the world as brothers-in-arms—though this usually applies to something like the Mukanda ritual ceremony of the Ndembu people in Zambia, wherein young boys are taken away from the village at a certain age to have the extremities of their manhood cut-off. During this rite of passage, young men enter what anthropologists call the Liminal State. In this state, young men are neither man nor child, which allows for the personal transformation of the self, body, and spirit. But how does this happen? Simple. To take from the famous adage;
“Gamers are the most oppressed group”.
Even the most cursory glance at “Gamer Fashion”, a subset in the nomenclature formerly known as Gamer/Geek Culture (from which the Ugandan Knuckles ensued) has much to inform us. Gamer T-Shirts, which we will here be using as ethnographic evidence of their material culture, read thusly: “Hey, SNOWFLAKE, there are only two genders, so get over it!”; “If you are reading this I’ll have you know I was forced to put my controller down and enter society”; or “I’m a gamer, not because I don’t have a life, but because I choose to have many!”. Such a study clearly identifies these G-Fuelled, never-pulled, but-very-virile-in-the-season-pass plucky young miscreants. For these young men belong to the techno-fanatical, pseudo-radical, and pseudo-puritanical generation called Y-Z millennials. A less prudent man might cut themselves on this level of edginess, but not these brave souls, though they do face terrible hardship.
Recently, more articles have been published by various millennial plaintiffs decrying this Ugandan Knuckles meme, which they deem to be racist, therefore further displaying just how oppressed these poor, unfortunate outcast souls find themselves. Time and time again, they are dissatisfied with what their society gives them, as the West disowns itself with the neo-feminist, cultural-Marxist criticism of the post-colonial Occident. And yet still as they seek refuge, they are blasted in a flame war to light our skies in Cyberspace for generations. Down the line, they will speak of these days when the completed their rite of passage, as they do of the great Meme Wars, and tales of The Way and Pepe alike will be told around pixelated campfires.
All the same, it ought not be forgotten that the creators of the 2010 Ugandan film Who Killed Captain Alex?, having originated the quotes whose accents and manners were taken-on by the scarlet Ugandan Faithful have themselves endorsed the meme, sharing many iterations and supporting the sub-culture as best they can from their twitter page, @Wakaliwood. And really, it must not be omitted from the debate that in modern anthropological circles, the principle of Cultural Relativism posits that we should treat all cultures equally! And yet. And yet must this come at the expense of some cultures in favour of others?
To speak as the Geek is to know the Geek; In the words of the ancient 10th-century Anglo-Saxon poem The Wanderer, as repurposed into King Théoden’s monologue by J. R. R. Tolkien for his LOTR book The Two Towers:
“Where is the horse and the rider?
Where is the horn that was blowing?
They have passed like rain on the mountains,
like wind in the meadow.
The days have gone down in the West,
behind the hills... Into Shadow.”
Gentlemen, I say, in recalling the outcry and sensitivity previously observed within the Gaming community by the refrain, “where is the justice for Harambe?”; “where is the respect due for this honourable and noble meme which may soon face oblivion?”
Even in observing such criticisms, this comes from the same media-climate as the cultural motifs which allowed and indeed enabled the late, bait, sombre-fated Gillette advert to happen, whence we see this same accusatory thought-process levelled against not only all white, cisgendered men but all men in general! Is it any wonder the self-removed would seek solace in the virtual arms of a neon-lit loli?
Our current cultural climate is unassertive, unsure and self-destructing. When a culture is diseased, it may find when turning around to scrub behind itself in the shower one day that oddly-formed but quite enigmatically defined growths in the shapes of secondary Sonic the Hedgehog characters have developed upon the rump! Visions beholding plagues of frogs reoccur…
Then again, and from a laboratory perspective, the difference between a contemporary consideration of a “model society”, perhaps sat on a table as a maquette of what we might be (as envisioned by those who would have us constantly be in self-un-realisation) and a VR vat containing a vile, porous, clucking swarm of social parasites is that, scientifically speaking, such bacteria will eventually develop its own culture.
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