When dark humor memes go too far: Inside the Boogaloo movement
Say “boogaloo” five times fast. You must admit the word has a silly ring to it. The ridiculousness of the word is, in fact, the reason why it became such a popular meme in the first place. When the Boogaloo meme made its way onto a 4chan message board, however, its meaning changed forever.
Today “Boogaloo” is a slang term used by radical anarchists seeking to incite a future civil war. While many would like to believe that the craziness stayed within the bounds of internet idiocy, the movement has unfortunately become a dark reality.
What once was a meme that evoked innocent humor, has now metastasized into a dark movement. Here’s a look inside the dangerous Boogaloo movement.
Evolution of Boogaloo
Originally a term used to denote goofy sequels, “boogaloo” was snatched up by restless internet crawlers looking for militant motivation. 4chan, known for its depraved & provocative threads, introduced “boogaloo” as a facetious reference.
Boogaloo calls back to the 1984 cult movie Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. The ridiculous title name became an iconic way for people to adopt satirical sequel titles. Multiple musical groups named albums & songs after the “Electric Boogaloo. Even It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia had an episode called “Chardee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo.”
The joke eventually evolved into a “sequel” to the American Civil War – Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo. Running with this idea, far-right extremists made the term their own and started to branch out, using it as a kind of sigil. The Boogaloo turned into a movement, developing a presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & Reddit.
Mass violence & militias
One of the most alarming parts of the Boogaloo movement is how casually “boogaloo” presents concepts of mass violence. White supremacists and other extremists have demonstrated an increased willingness to partake in Boogaloo-inspired violence.
White supremacists see “boogaloo” as a race war or white revolution. Seeking a violent collapse of the government, white supremacists are using the Boogaloo movement to introduce a white-dominated world. White supremacists like mass shooter John Earnest have made their way onto t-shirts as Boogaloo idols.
The Boogaloo movement essentially has the power to organize radicals into militias bent on inciting mass violence. The group celebrates its meme origins, using funny images (such as the Pepe the Frog meme) to sell boogaloo-related clothing & accessories.
The Telegram channel “Boogaloo: How to Survive” claims to instruct the group on “how to survive in a post society world through understanding the psychology of violence, attaining resources, and organizing to accomplish post society tasks.” This group currently has nearly two thousand members.
Boogalooers or “Boogaloo Bois” all have an obsession with the second amendment – the right to bear arms. Pictures of the militant group often show them flaunting their personal arsenal of guns.
Gun rights activists fervently stand by their possession of guns, promising that there would be violent retaliation if the government were to try and take their guns away. Any threat to their gun collection will be met with dangerous opposition.
A Facebook post by Gavin Newsom, California’s lieutenant governor, told the National Rifle Association, “we ARE coming for your guns.” The Boogaloo movement responded on a Reddit thread, indicating that any effort to confiscate their weapons would incite a civil war.
The Boogaloo movement has inspired gun enthusiasts to continue to expand their arsenal. Some Boogaloo followers have encouraged others to buy whatever guns & ammo that can because it could very soon be restricted. Moreover, the bigger the gun stash, the more power it could bring to the movement.
Those following the Boogaloo movement don’t intend on letting their guns sit around and gather dust. With rising political turbulence Boogalooers are trying to take advantage of the chaotic momentum. They’re actively looking for an opportunity to incite the collapse of American society.
George Floyd protests, for example, have triggered the Boogaloo movement, many responsible for the disruption protests, and some for the killings of two security & law enforcement officers.
Who knows what the Boogaloo movement will do next. Memes, often a source of communal merriment, have proven that they can quickly spiral out of control. We can all take comfort in the fact that the Boogaloo movement is still relatively disorganized, but this may not last long.
The group has already started to gather alongside other extremist far-right groups at anti-lockdown protests, George Floyd protests, and other spaces quicker than we could have ever imagined. Will the internet age bring on an apocalyptic age of unrest?