A cartoon I drew for the very day the World Health Organization declared the infection spread of COVID-19 global pandemic on March 11, 2020, has gone through a series of modifications and additions. Two tsunamis perilously heading towards a city symbolizing Canada with waves representing COVID-19 and recession, were soon joined by bigger scares including Climate Change and Biodiversity Collapse. The evolution has been fuelled by the thoughtfulness of people from around the world who have either suggested modifications on social media or sketched in new waves with my attention included. It illustrates important discussions on serious issues confronting humanity and the chronological changes has made this illustration my most shared image ever.
But, like so many images cartoonists offered up to the Internet, dark forces are at the ready armed with design software to butcher artists work and memes-ify them to serve their appetites for likes and retweets. Just as egregious to discover signed cartoons reworded to suit partisan stances effectively turning satire into propaganda, is the removal of monikers and the extraction of intellectual property. We learn as children not to do this when we hand in assignments for school and that we should always source words borrowed from others. Why is it when theft of imagery that’s turned into memes is taken so passively?
Along comes a post on Instagram where an account run under the banner of a big international bubble tea chain called Tiger Sugar used this image to promote franchise expansion. A glance through the account shows an endless scroll of not so witty memes mixed with photos of their swirly brown syrup concoctions aimed at a younger smart phone addicted set. A message was left under the post requesting removal of the altered image. As of the time of this writing the post remains and thereby grants Tiger Sugar bestowal of recognition into the pantheon of intellectual property thieves, better known as the Social Media Jackasses.
In researching this company one came across this unfortunate meme portraying it as one which serves effluent to its customers. How rude! To suggest this is where Tiger Sugar extracts its syrup is outrageous! Shame on whomever used imagery from this company without authorization to sully its messaging with such obvious contempt to use and discredit a popular brand. Ridiculous!