Have you ever thought about how truly terrifying emus are?
The motherfuckers are like six feet tall, ugly as sin, and have goddamn razors on their feet. These friggin' birds are dinosaurs and, if you look into their cold, dead eyes, it's easy to see they want blood—human blood, your blood, my blood.
Now, with that fear-mongering in mind, would you go to war with these creatures?
No? That's what I thought—I wouldn't either (we can hang out in my emu proof bomb shelter and like listen to emo tunes or something else cowards do)—but, there is one group that will go to war with these feathered barbarians. May I introduce you to the fun folks of subreddit Emu War Flashback?
They're something else.
To start, perhaps I should explain to you what the Great Emu War was (yes, it's a real thing). It took place in Australia in the 1930s when, and I'm paraphrasing here, a bunch of crazy Aussie bastards, mostly soldiers, mowed down emus with machine guns because they were a nuisance. The emus turned out to be wily little bastards and at first kind of outsmarted the soldiers, one general even compared the birds to the famous Zula Warriors.
"They can face machine-guns with the invulnerability of tanks," one commander said at the time. "They are like Zulus whom even dum-dum [hollow point] bullets could not stop."
After being outsmarted by the flightless birds the army started utilizing guerrilla tactics and wiped out over 50,000 of them, still, the operation was a considered a failure because, to this day, emus rule Western Australia with the heartless abandon that only a soulless, flightless bird can muster.
The subreddit takes this narrative and expands on it, creating lore, characters, and an active story as if the war was ongoing. It's creative, charming, and down-and-dirty pure internet weirdness cultivated by some rather amazing storytellers and content creators.
Adam W., a 18-year-old high school senior, who goes by Fumblerful on Reddit, created the subreddit last year as, more or less, a joke in response to the 'Nam flashback meme. The Emu war was already a meme on Reddit but since the forum's humble beginnings though the group has grown into something else entirely.
"The lore they created is a struggle for survival. In the first emu war, human forces fought against an emu coalition," Adam told me in an interview. "The emu had the help of many other birds like Cassowaries and magpies. Human forces from around the world joined the Australians in beating back the emu menace. Humans were successful but took heavy losses."
Goddamn bro, can you write a movie?
The subreddit has an official canon of the war, one that is moved forwards by some of the major storytellers and group consensus. A comprehensive history (maybe?) can be found here. There are three main types of content that populate the subreddit, images, stories and emus in the news. The group maintains a Google doc that keeps the events in chronological order.
When the subreddit first started, the content was rather sporadic and hard to follow, according to Adam. To remedy this, a while back the subreddit had a vote and made some of the more prolific and creative posters the generals of the war.
"These generals post a lot of stories and also help maintain an official canon and timeline," Adam said. "If someone wants to completely change the tide of the war or remove a city they consult the generals to see if it fits the narrative."
"A single user should not decide Darwin is officially nuked but if many decide Darwin is nuked, it is," he added.
Adam admits though that even know the content can be hard to follow for a first-time user, thanks to the may splintering story lines and injokes. One of the most spectacular in-jokes, in my opinion, is the appearance of the "fallen great war hero" Steve Irwin—solely because of the video of him running down and catching an emu with his bare hands.
Adam said that some in the group have become close over their mutual appreciation of storytelling, creativity and, well weirdness. When his pet passed away suddenly he came forward with his grief and the group supported him.
"I was in shock and awful grieving. I decided to reach out to emuwarflashbacks to see if they had some sympathy. I remember another subreddit owner doing that and how it may have helped them," said Adam.
"Being on Reddit, one of the things I learned was the importance of a stranger's sympathy. It isn't expected of them to feel your pain so when they do, it means a lot."
Since starting the subreddit, it has grown from 100 or so followers and contributors to close to over 18,000. Adam said that he is "gratified and thrilled" to be a part of it and is honoured to give a platform to such creative people.
"It still feels a little unreal," Adam said. "I have seen a few articles written about the emu war recently and I can chuckle knowing I might have had something to do with that."
I think we can all agree that keeping the memory of the Great Emu War alive is a noble pursuit—so, Emu War veterans, keep fighting the good fight.
Give those flightless bastards hell for us.
Lead image: A post by Hobbes1945 with the caption: "Emus Preparing for War."
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter