Who is behind L’Actualité en memes?
Just Maxime, fine. I like to work in the shadows. I never liked having the spotlight on me. When I was younger, I did sound and lighting for plays, so I didn’t go on stage, I always stayed in the background. I like that the focus is not on me, but on what I do.
I’m naturally funny, and I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh. I also have a strong interest in current events. Some people don’t take memes seriously. Me, I really have an approach behind that.
There are many elements that motivate my departure, starting with Facebook. It’s made complicated to make memes criticizing the news on this social network. For example, the memes I make about the Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ) are often reported massively to Facebook. It happened several times that Facebook blocked me and sent me to their prison [suspendait ma page] for a while.
My page quality went down to
At risk. It reduces the reach of posts by almost 100 times. For two years, I made efforts to get to 25,000 subscribers. And Facebook reduced the whole thing like I only had 500 subscriptions.
Meme News has become like a second full-time job for me. I lost my fun on Facebook. There is community management, moderation that comes with that. On Instagram, it manages itself, it’s less toxic.
Otherwise, what also motivated my choice to quit is that I changed jobs. I was self-employed for the past two years. So I had time to think. I need to concentrate on my new vocation, which is that of a CEGEP teacher.
I also feel that I have covered what I had to do. The news revolves around, with similar topics. I’ve come to the end of something, and I’m going to let other meme masters emerge, because there are some really good ones out there.
Will memes have a place in your CEGEP class?
For sure I will include memes in my presentations.
What prompted you to get into the world of memes?
My page, I left it in 2012. At the time, memes were starting to break through. At the time, I was studying at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) in interactive media communication. I saw in memes an interesting medium, a good communication channel, especially in the context of the student crisis.
Then, I had a more difficult phase around 2016, which led me to completely close my page in 2018. Memes no longer made me laugh. It’s really with the pandemic [de COVID-19] that I decided to start making memes again. I reopened the L’Actualité en memes page at that time.
It helped me through the pandemic. At first, I thought I wanted to entertain people for a little three months. In the end, it will have lasted more than two years.
What’s a typical day as a meme master?
I got up around 6 am, I started my press review and my search for images. The goal was to find the photo that would provide context, be impactful, that we could cut out and put into complex montages, and add text to it.
Reading the articles, watching what was happening, it came to my mind, I wrote down the ideas, then I realized the ones I liked the most.
Have you ever regretted uploading a meme?
I don’t regret anything I’ve done with my page. I would have done things differently, of course, and often. But there’s no point in regretting anything.
There are memes I’ve made where I lacked sensitivity, that’s for sure. For example, I had to remove a meme at the time when we had just discovered the graves of residential schools for Aboriginals. At the same time, the government launched the “scratches” based on the weather (New window).
In my meme, it was the lotto-boarding school where you scratched Canada and you discovered the number of graves. It went moderately well. Strangely, these are social justice warriors, people who are advocating for native people and not involved in the meme, who criticized it a lot. But some Native people I’ve talked to — because I always consult three of the memes I do that include them — found this [dur]but not insulting.
Is it a dangerous job?
I am [baveux] and I can be mean in the memes I do, and it can backfire. It is dangerous to have opinions.
It’s happened to me in the past that people have tried to find me. This happened especially during the convoys for freedom. Once, several people got on my case trying to find out who I was. I never feared for my safety; I have seen others.
I often received insults in private, it can be a few times a week. But me, it always makes me laugh; I take criticism well and I don’t take insults the hard way.
Your best move?
The dolphin truck jumping up, saying
thank you Truckbut written
mersi kemionis a highlight for me. Infoman even selected it for the Jean-Tal gallery.
I also really like this meme [créé pendant le convoi de la liberté].
I had even made a live video when it was created.
What do you take away from this experience?
I don’t have much perspective yet on what I did. I have always worked with little regard for people’s reactions during these last two intensive years. [de création de mèmes].
But I can say that I found a casualness that I had lost. When I was younger, I was much more casual about my words, about my way of doing things. I reconnected with that in a more mature, different way.
I also learned to be a little more confronted with opinions that are not in my echo chamber, and to better know how dealer socially with it.
I really approached memes in a reflective, intellectual way. I learned a lot of things by doing this, for example how to make turns of phrase so that it works well, how to synthesize and tell a story with as few words and images as possible.
What would you say to someone who wants to get into the meme universe?
You have to do a lot of it, because you have to understand the mechanics, understand what’s funny and what’s less funny. You have to try things, do research on words, images, try to think outside the box, a little. Otherwise, it is always the same templates that we see.
You also have to take the time to think before making a meme: what message do you want to convey, what do you want to denounce? What story do you want to tell?
I launched the Dolloramème group on Facebook, a sub-page of L’Actualité en memes. Anyone can try their hand and post memes there. I give stuff, I provide new templates and encourage people to make it their own. It is a veritable laboratory for Internet users. From there, a few meme pages were started, and I got help from two other people to administer the group.
How do you react to the wave of love that has swept over your Facebook page since the announcement of your retirement?
I am very touched by this. I got a lot of testimonials off of this ad, too. I was a bit their savior of the pandemic, their savior of everyday life, the highlight of their day. It’s a lot, for me, because I don’t like receiving thanks, and I have a lot of trouble receiving them.
It’s still a big mourning, because you receive a lot of love every day, by the simple gesture of the mention I like.
It’s a machine that rolls all the time in your head, the memes. You see situations through a prism, to find the paradigms that people will experience, you mix it all together.
The elections are coming up, will you resist the temptation to mistrust the news?
It’s been two weeks now that I really got off the news in general. I’m not saying I won’t come up with a good idea and post it. It is on that I will listen to them, the debates. I’m going to go depending on how I feel when the time comes.
What legacy for L’Actualité en memes?
I think, honestly, that I raised the level of the meme, in Quebec. I forced the other pages to be more creative. My big hobby was trying to create Quebec memes, references specific to here, and local equivalents of international memes.
I may be leaving a small legacy like that.