Home CommentaryEditorial Editorial: Enough of this Harambe hysteria

Editorial: Enough of this Harambe hysteria

by The Concordian September 27, 2016
Editorial: Enough of this Harambe hysteria

This obsession with Harambe, the deceased gorilla, is getting completely out of hand. To be quite frank, people need to end this cultish fixation and move on with their lives.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, Harambe was a silverback gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. Last May, a four-year-old boy fell into Harambe’s enclosure, and zoo officials were forced to kill the gorilla in order to ensure the safety of the child, according to the CBC.

Following the gorilla’s death, the Internet reacted as social media users vented their anger and disbelief over the zoo’s decision to put the animal down. Harambe soon became a pop culture phenomenon on the Internet, with endless memes and references being posted daily.

This phenomenon has now reached a new height, with multiple universities hosting candlelight vigils in honor of the animal. The McGill vigil—which is not officially affiliated with the school—has over 2000 individuals listed as attending on the event’s Facebook page, including many students from Concordia.

The Concordian spoke with Saad Waseem—the organizer of the McGill vigil—who said he conceptualized the event after seeing other universities holding vigils. He also added, “this meme is just another taste of how much power and influence the Internet has.”

The organizers of the event are even selling merchandise, such as t-shirts, sweaters and hoodies. The profits from these sales are reportedly going to the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund according to the Facebook event.

But the worst thing here is that nobody seems to actually care about the dead gorilla. The event symbolizes an uninspiring craze, rather than an actual movement or legitimate vigil.

Those attending the event simply want to be a part of this current pop culture phenomenon—they are a part of the clueless flock of sheep being herded towards the cliff. In a year from now, nobody will even remember the ‘vigil’ or the dead gorilla.

Photo courtesy of Andy Bewer.

Photo courtesy of Andy Bewer.

It would be more inspiring to see students rally together to put pressure on zoos to ensure the safety and wellbeing of animals kept in captivity. Or even denounce the cruel and demeaning concept of zoos, and accept that animals shouldn’t be kept simply for our entertainment.

It would be even more impressive if we used Harambe and his African heritage as a stepping-stone to discuss the issue of ivory trafficking on the African continent, or the fact that tens of thousands of elephants die every year as a result, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

Instead of buying into this vapid pop culture garbage, let’s think critically for just one second and stray away from the madding crowd. If Harambe’s death only inspired mock vigils and cheap laughs on Instagram, then the gorilla certainly died in vain.

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