Old Economy Steve

Decent Essays
Millennial Angst and Old Economy Steve Characterized as a meme for frustrated Millennials, Old Economy Steve (also called Steven) emerged as a web phenomenon in 2012. The picture circulated around the internet as early as 2010 as a stock photo in anti-acne articles. However, it emerged as the Steve image macro in a Reddit thread in May of 2012. The image is a high school yearbook photo of Kenneth Kiser and ended up on the web because Kiser uploaded it to a free use photo repository. The popularity of the meme spiked when online magazine BuzzFeed posted an article featuring it in May 2013. A Google trends search of the phrase “Old Economy Steve” reveals that after this initial burst of activity, a steady stream of web attention has continued in the years since,…show more content…
Since the Reddit post that introduced the meme, included the phrase of “old economy” in the title, one clear function of the visual is to create a sense of opposition and distance between Steve and the participants. Aesthetically, the picture immediately creates this distance from contemporary America (Figure 1). Both Steve’s shirt and the background are a shade of blue reminiscent to the “power blue” tuxedo stereotypically associated with the sixties and seventies. Moreover, the faded contrast of the photo suggests that the image is genuinely old, rather than a contemporary attempt to recreate a past aesthetic. The embodied representation of Steve himself further dates the photo. The feathered haircut and wide-collared shirt place the image firmly within the fashion of the 1970s. Combined these elements create an impression of the image being taken from a yearbook or similar window to the past. Colin Brooke argues that participants in digital rhetorics not only create texts not only to look a particular way, but also to be looked at from a particular vantage point.
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