Internet Reading Club: May 2016 – The Atlantic

Every month, I put together a list of some of the most moving, thought-provoking, beautifully written, deeply reported, quirky, strange, or otherwise memorable stories about from around the internet. This month’s selection is striking for the creativity and talent of the writers, and for how different they are from one another. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I did.

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How Air Jordan Became Crying Jordan

Ian Crouch | The New Yorker

It has become difficult to separate Jordan from the images of him that were sold to consumers. But he was no marketing cipher. The things that advertisers said were cool about him were actually cool: the wagging tongue; the acrobatic leaps; the clutch shots on the biggest stages; the shining, perfectly round bald head; the deadpan sense of humor and easy smile. The Jumpman logo that adorns his sub-brand of Nike shoes and apparel? He could really jump like that.

If you’ve spent any time on the Internet recently, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an image of Michael Jordan’s tearful face superimposed on someone else’s body. The meme, known as Crying Jordan, has been around for several years, but became ubiquitous on the Web starting this past fall. Whenever someone—an athlete, an actor, a politician—fails in a public way, his face will promptly be replaced by Jordan’s. When Donald Trump lost the Iowa caucuses, he became Crying Jordan. When the quarterback Cam Newton lost the Super Bowl, he became Crying Jordan. When Michael Jordan himself, sitting in the stands at the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championship, watched as his alma mater North Carolina lost to Villanova, he became Crying Jordan. (The meme also works on non-human objects, like taco bowls.) At this very moment, someone, somewhere, is failing, and Crying Jordan awaits.

For those of us who were sentient when Jordan was winning championships, seeing his face become a mocking emblem of sadness and incompetence has been jarring. Jordan never lost when it counted, and even during his strange baseball interlude, few dared call him incompetent. But today, Crying Jordan is one element in a much broader repositioning of Jordan’s place in the culture.

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