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A common internet meme depicting billionaire Jeff Bezos as Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers film series (via Twitter)

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Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest man, launched into space today, July 20, aboard his Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket ship. With his departure from earth, an entire galaxy of internet memes satirizing his space voyage burst wide open.

As hard as you try, it’s impossible to deny the overly phallic shape of Bezos’s spaceship — and now the world collectively wonders how and why the top-tier engineers didn’t seem to notice.

To be expected, the internet’s favorite pastime — dick jokes — have been flooding social media in the past few days in the form of memes about the controversial entrepreneur and his civilian flight.

By contrast, rival billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space flight, which launched successfully on July 11, was rife with stereotypically feminine symbols. Beyond the name “Virgin,” Branson and his crew boarded a relatively small spacecraft, tucked in the belly of a “mothership” that sailed smoothly to the edge of space.

Bezos, on the other hand, blazed to space aboard a 60-foot tall phallus adorned with a giant feather as a “symbol of the perfection of flight,” according to Blue Origin’s website. That was a small step for man and a giant leap for Bezos parodies, to paraphrase Neil Armstrong’s famous words after the first moon landing.

“Congrats to Jeff Bezos on his successful rocket launch. And also for totally not overcompensating for something,” tweeted podcaster Dan Katz, summing up the sentiment online. Another Twitter user called Bezos’s New Shepard “The world’s first circumcised rocket.”

Equally impossible to ignore is Bezos’s resemblance to Mike Myers as Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers film series. This unfortunate but hilarious likeness has become evermore vivid after Bezos’s rumored botox injections, which gave him a puffed face. (No shade, it’s a free country.)

Combine these two elements and you get the irresistible parody of a Dr. Evil look-alike riding a penis-shaped space rocket. Meanwhile, tens of thousands back on earth have signed an online petition calling to ban Bezos from returning to our blue planet. It’s too late for that now, because Bezos and his crew landed safely on earth after an 11-minute suborbital ride. And, of course, we wish them all well…

Others online have suggested exacting a “re-entry tax” on Bezos who, like others in the billionaire class, has repeatedly avoided paying any federal income taxes.

What’s more, Bezos was able to fulfill his childhood fantasy of floating weightless in space thanks to the fortune he accumulated on the backs of low-waged, overworked, and notoriously surveilled Amazon workers.

With a straight face, he thanked Amazon employees and customers for making his space trip possible, saying, “You guys paid for all of this.” 

Twitter users retorted with memes showing Amazon workers taking advantage of their boss’s absence for a restroom break, a privilege that drivers and other workers in the company are not amply afforded. (Amazon drivers have been documented urinating in bottles, according to media reports.)

“BREAKING: Amazon employees watch billionaire Jeff Bezos launch into space — all while peeing in solo cups inside scorching hot semi truck trailers,” tweeted one critic.

Meanwhile, the world’s top billionaires are continuing their pissing contest to see whose money will get them farthest into the galaxy. Next is Elon Musk, another controversial multibillionaire, who’s planning missions to the moon and Mars. One of the wonders of our universe is that it keeps expanding, possibly infinitely. Such are the egos of Bezos, Branson, and Musk.

Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant and he holds an...

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