Think Portland is losing it's creative edge? Maybe you're just looking in the wrong places.
Karen Zack, a five-year Portland resident who has a day job in freelance media production, has created a viral meme, and a new way to mash up the internet's favorite things: adorable animals and food. Let's call it the "blank or blank" method, which I'm sure you've seen flooding your social media.
Zack's posts have been picked up by worldwide media outlets including Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and Funny or Die who are baffled by the profound question, "Wait what the fuck IS that?" She's been retweeted by thousands, has inspired countless imitators, and was even ripped off on Instagram by @thefatjewish. That's the internet big time!
I chatted with Zack about what it's been like to have a post go viral, and of course, included a bunch of her adorable quandaries for your viewing pleasure.
MERCURY: Is there a name for this project/campaign? When did it start?
KAREN ZACK: November 2015 was when I first posted "duckling or plantain," and it snowballed from there. Haven't thought of an official name for it yet. Bark or Bite? Petfood? Just bouncing some bad ideas around.
What inspired these tweets?
Animals. Cute, adorable, lovable animals.
Have you ever mistaken an animal for food IRL?
I've eaten lots of animals in my life, so this is a tough question to answer. And now I'm horrified by my response.
Have you ever seen an animal eating a food it resembles? If a labradoodle eats fried chicken, do you consider it cannibalism?
One time I saw a neighbor of mine feed chicken to their chickens. I still can't get over this. If someone has a pic of their labradoodle eating fried chicken though, I want to be the first to see it. This is a request—get snapping, people.
Why do I feel guilty now when I eat bagels?
This is just part of my scheme to get the world to stop eating gluten. Perhaps my tagline should be, "put the bagel down, not your dog."
How did you go about finding the images, and do you edit them at all?
Google image search is my best friend in all this. I crop the images and spend a lot of time arranging them in a way that tricks your eye. No photoshopping. The more I make them the more I see it as an art form. I'll spend at least an hour or more getting things perfect.
These have gone so crazy viral. What has it been like to become a twitter celebrity over night?
My life is a magnet for bizarre stories it seems, but this might just take the cake. It's incredible to receive messages from major publications and people from all over the globe. Makes my heart happy seeing something I created bring the world a little joy. A week ago my twitter had a little over 300 follows. I'm over 6,000 now and it's growing by the minute.
What do you plan to do with your newly gained twitter status?
Keep telling "jokes." I love seeing the world in a comedic light, and all I hope to do is keep people smiling, whether they think I'm funny or not. Also it's pretty cool to be followed by some of my biggest heroes. Encourages me to keep reaching after the dream of meeting or working with some of them one day.
I’d be willing to bet a lot of people are mis-crediting or not crediting the tweets. How have you dealt with issues of crediting/intellectual property?
Yes. I'd say a lot the reposts that have received the most attention/shares are left un-credited, and there's not a whole lot I can do about it at this point. In the beginning I tried reaching out to get it corrected but there's literally too many to keep track anymore. It's a wild animal at this point, out in the wilderness of internet meme-land. Fortunately I've been able to maintain credit within articles and across the news. I'm just happy at how universal it's gone.
How do you feel about @thefatjewish instagraming your post?
That guy is kind of the worst, honestly. He's stolen a lot of jokes from my friends too, and intentionally whited out their names in his posts. In all honestly it probably helped the meme to go even more viral, but it was definitely a launch point for people to repost something that was a cropped version of my originals. It's like a huge game of telephone.
What has been the best/worst/weirdest part of this experience for you?
Best: Feeling other people's joy / getting to virtually shake hands with Chris Sacca / too many things to list.
Worst: Forgetting to eat or sleep for a week.
Weirdest: Being called a genius or a hero by strangers.
Are viral tweets the new age of “keep Portland weird?”
Twitter is an amazing, life changing website. Get connected and get tweeting. You never know what could happen.
Might we suggest kidney beans or kitten paws?
Who are your favorite folks to follow on twitter?
What animal/food mashup is next?