Literary/Pop Culture Mash-Ups: Social Commentary or Just For ROFLs?

The internet loves mixing things with other very disparate things. I believe the young people call these combinations “mash-ups.”

How-Do-You-Do-Fellow-Kids-Reaction-Gif-Steve-BuscemiI’m so hip.

Snoop Doggs and Little Mermaids. Louis CK and Cathy comicsTom Selleck, waterfalls, and sandwiches. WHAT ARE ALL THESE THINGS DOING TOGETHER? And yet, it’s hard to argue against their suitability, especially when like DOZENS of different people in different cities on different computers are all, This screen shot from Harry Potter would be much improved by a line from Mean Girls.*

harry potter get in loserSource

I mean, they ain’t wrong.

 harry potter you can't sit with usSource


harry potter we wear pinkSource

Those pairings are ACCURATE. I’m a big fan of accuracy. And there’s nothing more accurate than these Samuel Beckett Motivational Cat Posters.

Samuel beckett kitten disgustSource

‘With a side of kittens’ is literally the only way I can stomach avant-garde French playwrights, myself.

samuel beckett kitten sun shoneSource

Getting increasingly meta is this Tumblr of Lemony Snickets scenes mashed up with…uh…more Tumblr.

unfortunate events tumblr alcohol systemSource

Famous first lines perfectly paired up with rap lyrics is neither on Tumblr, NOR does it have any visuals, so I almost didn’t even click through.

Gaston-Needs-Pictures-To-Read-In-Beauty-and-The-Beast-GifI am the Gastoniest

I would have missed out on gems like this George Orwell/Kendrick Lamar collaboration:

It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen

And if you hard then wreck your car and walk up to my crime scene

(1984 and “Ignorance is Bliss”)

And I’m CRYING at this William Butler Yeats/Run-D.M.C. duet:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

I won’t stop rockin’ till I retire

(“The Second Coming” and “King of Rock”)

Also lurking outside the fumblr forest is @KimKierkegaardashian, a Twitter account that blends the brain-products of Kim Kardashian and Søren Kierkegaard into glorious, mind-bending quotes. “Use one tenth of the power which is granted to you, use it to the utmost. Be the hottest mom in the entire world” is my new motto.

But as much as it is LOL’d at and retweeted, the juxtaposition of so-called “high-” and “low-brow” culture isn’t always played solely for laughs. Saved by the bell hooks is a fairly recent and wildly popular Tumblr that pairs quotes from author bell hooks with stills from a beloved ’90s sitcom and, as one internet writer points out, “calls out the race, gender, and class stereotypes that are perpetuated in much of the popular culture we have been consuming nonstop since childhood.” Much lawls does not preclude a thoughtful interrogation of often-unquestioned subject matter.

bell hooks beauty in blacknessSource

And it’s no accident that many of these mash-ups mix otherwise largely inaccessible thinkers with brain candy. Not everyone can charge through Either/Or, but anyone can bite down on 140 characters. People older and crankier than even I am come down on the current generation for a too-short attention span, but every age has its own mode of communication, and it’d be too bad if our great thinkers went unheard because their particular venues had fallen out of fashion.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go slap some Thomas Hardy quotes on Tom Hardy’s pouty mug.

What’s your favorite internet mash-up?

*Totally granted that many of my “literary” examples are screen shots of the film versions thereof, but dude. A Mean Girls quote underneath a descriptive Harry Potter quote doesn’t have half the pizzazz.


We run a pretty sweet little bookish Instagram account, if we do say so ourselves (and we do). Come check it out.

instagram post footer image

The dog days are over, and cool, crisp weather approaches. Spruce up your fall wardrobe with new lightweight scarves.