Ghanaian pallbearers have become the harbingers of death on the internet. There is no better example of their influence than the Ghanaian pallbearer memes about the rumored but not at all confirmed death of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.
Since this meme format was popularized in early April, it's taken over the internet. Joining the hallowed halls of memes like Distracted Boyfriend or Overly Attached Girlfriend, the pallbearers are now recognizable on sight, and everyone knows what they signify. When the pallbearers show up, someone is going to die. In fact, people have been iterating on the meme with that new wrinkle on it. The original meme format used the pallbearers to say that someone has died, literally or symbolically. This new version of the meme uses the pallbearers as harbingers of death. If they're friending you on Facebook or suddenly all following you on Twitter, your time is about to be up.
One new version of the meme shows the pallbearers coming closer and closer each time someone does something that might endanger their health.
Kim Jong Un pallbearer memes capitalize on this variation. Because the North Korean government insists that he's alive while the rest of the world has collectively decided that he's dead, the Ghanaian pallbearer memes make him a kind of Schroedinger's Dictator. If he were already dead and we absolutely knew that for sure, using this meme format would feel like beating a dead horse, or digging up a coffin to dance with it. With the lack of clear information, people get to play around with the threat of the pallbearers, who bring death in while dancing to Tony Igy's "Astronomia."
As coronavirus deaths in the US reach over 50,000, the morbidity of the internet has not diminished. If anything, the dominant brand of merrymaking on the internet now is gallows humor. While my mom has very little understanding of memes and internet culture in general, even she is sending me ominous Boomer memes about injecting bleach. Making light of whether or not a horrific dictator is dead is how we're all getting by, at least until the pallbearers come for us.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.