Author Archives: Cameron Pettigrew

Deez Nuts

The “Deez Nuts” cyber-lore is an internet sensation found in video and meme formats throughout the internet and social media. People began mashing up videos using a segment of an Instagram video in which a black man in the video prank calls someone and answers “Deez Nuts!” when the person on the other line asks who is calling.


“I saw it from Instagram, everybody made like, different memes and videos about it. My friend sent me a survey about it and said it was for class and when I opened it…it was just talkin about, bout deez nuts. *giggles*”


My informant encountered the mash-up in a different format than usual, having been introduced to it through a survey and not an Instagram video. One of her friends sent her a link to after he had told her to take a survey for class, which she proceeded to open only to find out that it wasn’t actually a class survey, but a meme with the text “Deez Nuts”.


Analysis: When looking at this piece of cyberlore, I found that it is used primarily as a means of playing a practical joke. Though the video itself may not be particularly funny on its own, when used in a context that “pranks” other people, the pranksters and the pranked find the scenario funny because they “got someone” by getting them to open something seemingly important, only to find out that the only message is that they’ve found “Deez Nuts”. I also thought it was interesting the way that thus particular cyberlore spread and evolved. The “Deez Nuts” reference can be found in a variety of different formats, from video, to memes, to quizzes, which hints at how quickly and easily things can become varied and spread on the internet.

Old Wives Tale on Homosexuality

My informant is the mother of a USC student. She is an immigrant from Cameroon and came to America with her husband and son before giving birth to their daughter.


“As a child I knew nothing about homosexuality…but there was an old wives tale I was told that, if a woman was raped by another woman, it would render the victim barren. The victim would usually dream about the encounter and the perpetrator would be confronted by village elders and be chastised.”


Analysis: Cameroon is a country that has deeply rooted beliefs and traditions, among these is the belief that people should not engage in relations with someone of the same sex. The importance that is placed on women to be child bearers and bring about heirs is part of the reason that there is so much stigma placed upon same-sex relations. Barrenness would be an ultimate punishment for a woman because her utmost purpose within that society is to give birth to a male heir. This belief further sets the societal framework for Cameroon and Cameroonian culture by making it very clear that homosexuality is not tolerated in society or by nature (as the female victim would mysteriously become barren after the rape).


Only A Stupid Child Falls More Than Once at the Door

My informant is the mother of a USC student. She is an immigrant from Cameroon and came to America with her husband and son before giving birth to their daughter.


“Most of the houses have entrance doors that are raised. There are no accommodations for the less able….everyone is expected to get in and out. If you fall or trip once, you should remember the next time you approach the door. If you miss again, you will be considered incompetent.”


Analysis: This proverb is essentially one that states that you should learn from your mistakes and from past experiences. If you trip once at the door, an intelligent person would remember the next time they encounter it, whereas a person who is oblivious will trip again because they did not pay attention the first time. Though the proverb can be applied to all situations where people fail to learn from their mistakes, the use of the word child implies that the person who is hearing the proverb—regardless of age—is acting like one. It exemplifies the expectation in the Cameroonian community to learn from your mistakes and take care not to make them again.


The Story of Ganesha

My informant is a bi-racial student at USC who is half white and half Indian. She grew up listening to her mother tell her stories and legends about Indian gods and goddesses and carried those stories with her throughout her life. This was one of her favorites.


“Okay so Ganesha was the son of Shiva and Parvati. And Shiva is the main god in Hinduism. And um, Parvati—his mother—created Ganesha as a little boy out of soap when she was feeling lonely and Shiva was gone. And um, his job was to guard her door and make sure nobody came in without her permission. And so one day Shiva came home—his father—and Ganesha wouldn’t let him in because that’s his job, but he didn’t know who Shiva was…and Shiva in anger cut off his head in anger and killed him. And Parvati was really really sad and when Shiva found out that that was his son he got really sad too. And so he decided to give Ganesha his life back and how he did it was the first living thing he saw, he was gonna cut the head off of and put it on his sons body and restore life back to him. So the first thing he saw was an elephant so he cut off the elephants head and put it on Ganesha’s body and brought him back to life—which is why he’s the Hindu God that has an elephants head. And his main…like what he’s most famous for is um, he has really big ears because he’s really intelligent and listens to all the worlds problems, and he’s considered the force that blocks paths for people and creates troubles but also is the God that can clear paths for people and lead them on the road to success…the end!”


Analysis: The origin story that was presented was one that was told to my informant by her mother. The story behind Ganesha explains why he Is worshipped as a God (having been brought back to life by Shiva) in the Hindu faith. This folk legend also explains why elephants are regarded as sacred to many Hindu’s living in India and throughout the world, because an elephant was chosen as the head of a God. It is interesting to see how religious beliefs and legends are passed amongst family members and the differences and changes in the story when passed from person to person. The story of Ganesha can be found in various texts and the components of the story can change from person to person as there are several “versions” of the story that are told. For example, in another rendition of the story, Parvati creates Ganesha out of dirt while taking a bath and after Shiva revived Ganesha, he also granted him power over all of his troops. For another version of this Hindu legend, refer to the: Mahabarata – a Sanskrit epic poems of India.


Margaritas at La Barca

My informant is a USC student of Armenian and Caucasian origin, born and raised in California and regularly exercises through distance running. She is also a human biology major with an emphasis in human performance.

“So during a long day of a run—Melissa and I would hate it—and really count down our ten miles until we could go eat at La Barca. And finally when we were done we were rewarded with two-three margaritas, chips and salsa, and a grande colossal burrito and surprisingly we would wake up and run ten times faster. A couple times we averaged a 6:33 mile for 8 miles consecutively so, every time before we had a hard workout the next day we would prep at La Barca before…and it worked pretty well this past summer! And so I guess its just tradition now kind of, with me and her and the other girls who run with us sometimes.”


Analysis: This example of acquired folklore demonstrates how superstition and repetition can create a ritual. My informant believed that there was an undeniable tie between her performance while running and the consumption of several margaritas and Mexican food at La Barca restaurant prior to her hard workouts the next day. The initial improvement of her mile time gave her “proof” that her ritual/ceremony before her rough workouts was successful which prompted her repeating the ritual and spreading what she had learned with her other running buddies until it became a tradition within their group to partake in drinks and Mexican food before workouts. This piece of folklore also serves a social purpose and a means of bringing people together and strengthening bonds between friends, as well as marking a distinct trait or practice within this specific running group.