"Do You Want Meme War?" Understanding the Visual Memes of the German Far Right
Far-right groups use internet memes to mobilize supporters, to employ troll factory tactics and to disseminate hate messages to a wider public. Drawing on methodological tools from visual culture studies, we analyze memes by the German online network Reconquista Germanica (RG), asking: What visual language, narratives and strategies do far-right memes employ to appeal a broad spectrum of potential supporters? We observe that RG's memes use ironic ambiguity, »hipsterish« aesthetics or references to popular culture to contemporize their ideological roots and to appeal multiple audiences and not-yet politicized users, while circumventing censorship. Although, at first sight, memes appear to be harmless instances of everyday visual culture, they still manage to convey neo-Nazi symbolism and key ideological narratives of hate and bigotry. Therefore, we argue for taking the calculated ambivalence of visual memes seriously instead of reducing them to a merely illustrative role.