Each Friday in What Memes Mean, Kirk Bozeman questions the significance, humor, and subtexts of viral videos, memes, and other Internet fads.
You’ve probably seen this one…
This man is pastor Joe Nelms, and he is evidently no newcomer to NASCAR convocation. HuffPo collected a few of his prayers here.
Briefly setting the weirdness aside, from a wide angle it seems Joe is intentionally trying to pray in a joyful, lighthearted way in preparation for an obviously joyful, lighthearted event – people driving cars around and around and around for hours on end. Often public prayer is intensely and unnecessarily somber, and it seems he is trying to make a conscious point of avoiding this.
But here were my two major problems with it on first listen:
My first problem was his “boogity-boogity-boogity” line. This seemed mindlessly, wildly inappropriate and unnecessary. But then I did a bit of digging…
This confusing gibberish at the end of his prayer is a line borrowed from the catchphrase of announcer Darrell Waltrip – a NASCAR champ in the early 80s himself – “Boogity-boogity-boogity, let’s go racing boys!” In a NASCAR context, inserting this into the closing of a prayer is no more inappropriate than a pastor praying, “In Jesus name, let’s play ball!” before a city league baseball game. In a baseball context I would think nothing of it – but, then again, I know baseball. Evidently I don’t know NASCAR.
So, what was at first a problem with assumed impropriety was really just a problem of my own ignorance and lack of context – go figure.
My second (and biggest) problem was Nelms’ almost unending string of “product endorsements”. In thinking this through, I believe Nelms is simply a huge NASCAR fan trying to thank God specifically for the things he loves about his sport, attempting to be intentionally joyful and genuine through the use of hyperbole and poetic device.
Unfortunately, he gets out of hand, losing this sensibility in the process. It comes across to many as religious endorsement of materialism, and it leaves them (honestly) wondering if he was paid for advertising time. I doubt this was Nelms’ intention – the problem is that his prayer will be perceived this way in spite of his good intention. Though not irreparable, it’s still not a good thing.
Anyone else have an opinion? This meme is certainly a weird one.
P.S. His “smokin’ hot wife” comment is a bit awkward as well, but I believe his intention was to illustrate the joy of marital faithfulness in a way that got people’s attention (seriously). I think that he did in fact communicate this in a harmless and even humorous way – so I’m OK with it…
Correction: Originally the YouTube video at the beginning was the incorrect prayer. It has been replaced with the correct prayer.