Laughing while crying tears of sadness seems to be the name of the game in 2020. Americans are battling the intense wildfires that are ravaging the West Coast, turning the sky red, and forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. Meanwhile, internet users have been mercilessly poking fun at gender reveal parties after one such event led to the outbreak of a massive fire in Southern California. The El Dorado Fire started because of a pyrotechnic device on September 5 and has since then burned over 13.5k acres of land.
Scroll down, upvote your fave memes, and let us know what you think of them and gender reveal parties in the comments. And if you’re currently somewhere on the West Coast, stay safe, dear Pandas!
Bored Panda spoke about the El Dorado fire with Joe Wadlington who is in San Francisco right now and created one of the gender reveal memes. He said that nobody should be playing around with pyrotechnic devices, explosives, or fireworks during wildfire season in California because the consequences can be massive. "Gender reveal parties are already toxic and unnecessary. Now people are starting wildfires. I'm in San Francisco right now and it's slowly raining ash outside my window." Read on for the rest of his insights. Bored Panda also reached out to 'Know Your Meme's' Senior Editor Matt Schimkowitz to hear his take on gender reveal memes. Check out what he had to say below as well.
According to 'Know Your Meme's' very own Matt, he personally finds the gender reveal memes funny. "It's an easy format that people are getting a lot of mileage from. Do I think that it's necessary to shame them? I'm not in the business of determining something like that. But it's hard to feel sympathy for the couple, especially for someone like me living in California who spent the weekend indoors because the air quality is so poor. And I’m lucky. Lives are being ruined by these fires. People are being displaced. Some are dying."
Matt doesn't think that the memes will help people become more aware of the potential damage they can cause, but they might sway public opinion about gender reveal parties. "I think that that public's perception about gender reveals might shift. With so many people publicly mocking them at the moment, some might be a little more apprehensive to throw one," he said.
"On some level, news and current events drive memes. They allow people to express their fears, hopes, and feelings on everyday life. The California fires are inspiring some memes this week, but with so much going on in the world, it's hard to tell if that will continue. Last year, the Australian bush fires, a major tragedy in their own right, drove news stories and memes. Flint, Michigan's water crisis is an ongoing tragedy that inspired its fair share of memes, but if the news doesn't keep that at the forefront of people's minds, people tend to move on to the next disaster."
Meanwhile, Joe told us what inspired him to create his own gender reveal meme about the Hindenburg disaster. "I thought through well-known historical disasters that had a recognizable image and had been completely preventable. I wanted to alight gender reveal parties with something else that’s embarrassing and was unnecessary. Because they are embarrassing and unnecessary and could mark our time as lack critical thought," he said.
"People shouldn’t have gender reveal parties. They encourage the toxic ways we’ve socialized gender. You should raise your baby to be a healthy baby, not like a 'little cheerleader' vs. a 'little football player,' Joe shared his opinion.
"Having a gender reveal party implies that the parents are going to raise their child very differently depending on what gender the kid is assigned at birth. I’m sure most of us can think of a time we wish our own parents hadn’t forced us into a specific thing just because boys or girls are 'supposed to do it.' If you want to tell people about your baby’s anatomy, that’s fine. But it shouldn’t be the most important thing about them. Why would we pass that close minded binary down to the next generation?"
The fire began during a family photoshoot at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, around 70 miles east of Los Angeles, after a smoke device ignited the nearby brush. Since then, the fire has spread, and only around a third of it has been contained as of September 10.
“In my 30 years as a citizen in Yucaipa, I have never seen such a large fire. As a retired firefighter with 32 years of experience, I can assure you I witnessed one of the most dangerous fires that we can have in this area,” said Yucaipa Mayor David Avila.
The sad thing is, this isn’t the only gender reveal party to have started a fire. Back in 2017, a party in Arizona led to a wildfire that razed 47k acres after a man shot an explosive substance at a target. He was ordered to repay around 8 million dollars in damages.
At the time of writing, there were more than 100 wildfires rampaging through 12 western US states currently, as reported by the BBC. The National Interagency Fire Center states that 4.4 million acres of land have been burned.
California, Oregon, and Washington have been affected the hardest. At least 15 people have died from wildfires in these three states and 500k Oregonians are leaving their homes behind and evacuating to safety.