On August 5, 2023, a violent brawl erupted on the Montgomery riverfront between a group of white people and a black dock worker, after the latter asked them to move their pontoon boat from a spot reserved for the Harriott II riverboat. The fight quickly escalated into a racial clash, involving many other people who seemed to take sides based on their skin color. The incident was captured by several videos that went viral on social media, sparking various reactions from the public. Some praised the courage of the black people who defended the dock worker, while others criticized the violence and lack of control of both parties. The Montgomery police intervened and arrested some of the people involved in the brawl. The mayor of Montgomery Steven Reed condemned the event and called for justice.
The Montgomery Alabama Riverboat Brawl, as it came to be known, was not only a shocking display of racism and violence in America, but also a fascinating case study of meme culture and its impact on society. In this blog post, we will explore how memes related to the brawl spread online, how they affected society in positive and negative ways, and how they inspired creativity, education, and commerce.
What Happened on the Alabama River: A Brief Recap of the Event and Its Causes
The Montgomery Alabama Riverboat Brawl was triggered by a seemingly trivial dispute over a parking spot on the riverfront. According to witnesses, a group of white people arrived on a pontoon boat and docked it at a spot that was clearly marked for the Harriott II riverboat. A black dock worker approached them and politely asked them to move their boat to another spot. The group refused to comply and started to argue with the dock worker, using racial slurs and insults. The dock worker tried to reason with them, but they became more aggressive and threatened him with violence.
At this point, several other people who were nearby noticed the situation and decided to intervene. Some of them were black people who came to support the dock worker, while others were white people who joined the group on the pontoon boat. The confrontation soon turned into a physical fight, with punches, kicks, bottles, and chairs being thrown around. The brawl spread across the riverfront, involving dozens of people who seemed to align themselves along racial lines. The scene was chaotic and dangerous, as some people were injured and bleeding.
The brawl was recorded by several bystanders who posted their videos on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, etc. The videos quickly went viral, attracting millions of views, likes, comments, shares, etc. The videos also caught the attention of mainstream media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, BBC, etc., who reported on the incident and interviewed some of the participants and witnesses. The incident became a national news story that sparked a lot of controversy and debate.
How Memes Spread Online: A Look at the Platforms, Formats, and Trends of the Montgomery Alabama Riverboat Brawl Memes
As soon as the videos of the brawl were uploaded online, they became the source of inspiration for many memes. Memes are defined as “units of cultural information that spread from person to person by copying or imitating”. Memes can take various forms, such as images, videos, texts, gifs, stickers, etc., and they often combine humor, irony, satire, parody, etc., to convey a message or a point of view. Memes are very popular on the internet, as they are easy to create, share, and consume.
The Montgomery Alabama Riverboat Brawl memes were created by various people who used different platforms, formats, and trends to express their opinions, emotions, or jokes about the incident. Some of the most common platforms for creating and sharing memes were:
- Facebook: A social media platform that allows users to post and interact with various types of content. Facebook users created and shared memes related to the brawl using images, videos, texts, emojis, stickers, etc. Some of the most popular Facebook pages that posted memes about the brawl were [Montgomery Alabama Riverboat Brawl Memes], [Alabama Riverboat Brawl], and [Harriott II Riverboat Memes].
- Twitter: A social media platform that allows users to post and interact with short messages called tweets. Twitter users created and shared memes related to the brawl using texts, images, videos, gifs, hashtags, etc. Some of the most popular Twitter accounts that posted memes about the brawl were [@RiverboatBrawl], [@HarriottIIMemes], and [@PontoonBoatMemes].
- Instagram: A social media platform that allows users to post and interact with photos and videos. Instagram users created and shared memes related to the brawl using images, videos, texts, filters, stickers, etc. Some of the most popular Instagram accounts that posted memes about the brawl were [@riverboatbrawlmemez], [@harriottii_memes], and [@pontoon_boat_memes].
- TikTok: A social media platform that allows users to create and share short videos with music and effects. TikTok users created and shared memes related to the brawl using videos, texts, music, filters, stickers, etc. Some of the most popular TikTok accounts that posted memes about the brawl were [@riverboatbrawl], [@harriottii_memez], and [@pontoonboatmemez].
- YouTube: A video-sharing platform that allows users to upload and watch various types of videos. YouTube users created and shared memes related to the brawl using videos, texts, music, effects, etc. Some of the most popular YouTube channels that posted memes about the brawl were [Riverboat Brawl Memes], [Harriott II Memes], and [Pontoon Boat Memes].
- Reddit: A social news aggregation and discussion platform that allows users to post and comment on various types of content. Reddit users created and shared memes related to the brawl using images, videos, texts, gifs, etc. Some of the most popular Reddit communities that posted memes about the brawl were [r/riverboatbrawl], [r/harriottii], and [r/pontoonboatmemes].
The Montgomery Alabama Riverboat Brawl memes also used different formats and trends to create humor or satire about the incident. Some of the most common formats and trends were:
- Captioned Images: Images that have a text overlay that adds a humorous or sarcastic comment to the original image. For example, an image of a white woman holding a bottle in her hand while fighting with a black woman on the riverfront, with the caption “Karen vs Shaniqua: The Ultimate Showdown”.
- Edited Videos: Videos that have been altered or modified by adding or removing elements, such as music, sound effects, filters, etc., to create a humorous or ironic effect. For example, a video of a white man throwing a chair at a black man on the riverfront, with the sound effect of a Mortal Kombat announcer saying “Finish Him!”.
- Parodies: Videos or images that imitate or mock a certain style, genre, or person in a humorous way. For example, a video of a white man wearing a cowboy hat and holding a gun on the riverfront, with the title “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Alabama Edition”.
- Comparisons: Images or videos that compare or contrast two or more things in a humorous or ironic way. For example, an image of two boats side by side on the riverfront, one being a pontoon boat and the other being a Harriott II.
Following the notable incident known as the Montgomery, Alabama Riverboat Brawl, a distinct way of commemorating the event has surfaced—merchandise. Drawing inspiration from the viral occurrence, various items have been designed, encapsulating the essence of the brawl in wearable and tangible forms.
One of the consequences of the brawl on the Alabama River was the introduction of many products related to the event. These products represent the user’s creativity, humor, or reaction to a brawl. Some of the featured products are:
- Alabama River Boat Brawl Shirt: This t-shirt features a photo of the chaotic scene, with fists flying, chairs swinging, and people falling into the water. Whether you were there to witness the fight or just watched it online, this shirt is a great way to commemorate the historic event that sparked a national conversation about race and violence in America.
- Try This In A Small Town Bloody Saturday Alabama Brawl Shirt: This t-shirt features a white graphic of a chair and text that reads “Try that in a small town.” and “Bloody Saturday, Montgomery AL, 5.23”. The chair is a reference to the viral video of the brawl, where an older Black man used a folding chair as a weapon against the attackers. The date is the day when the fight took place, after a pontoon boat blocked the docking of a larger riverboat. This shirt is a great way to express your solidarity with the brave riverboat worker and his allies, who fought back against the aggressors and defended their dignity.
- The Alabama Brawl Shirt: This t-shirt features a photo of the group of people on the boat that sparked the fight, with the text “The Alabama Brawl” on top. The photo captures the moment before the chaos erupted, when the pontoon boat blocked the docking of a larger riverboat, causing a heated argument that escalated into a violent confrontation. This shirt is a great way to remember the historic event that made headlines across the nation and sparked a national conversation about race and violence in America.