If you frequent any social media platform with any sense of regularity, at some point or time you have the seen the meme above. For the uninitiated, a text box or text bubble would be placed on all three people in the photo. The guy (figure a) would represent someone or something being distracted or unfocused. The woman in the blue shirt (figure b) represents something (figure a) should be focused on. Finally, the woman in the red (figure c) represents someone or something that you shouldn’t be focused on because figure b should be the priority. The meme has taken on a life of its own but it started as a joke about various forms of infidelity, impulses, disloyalty, unfaithfulness and distractions.
This past February, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban put forth his “Family Protection Action Plan” which contains a bunch of different policies to drastically boost the fertility rates of women and potentially create a population boom in the future. For lack of a better word, some of the policies were bizarre. In order to qualify for a hefty tax break, a woman would need to have 4 or more kids. If a woman was under 40 and never married, she could qualify for a low-interest government loan ($35k usd) by tying the knot as soon as possible. The plan was filled with a bunch of financial incentives to entice lots of Hungarian women to get married fast and have lots of kids. It makes you wonder why these policies weren’t already the norm and not this last ditch effort just to protect the economy and the future population of the country.
You may be asking, what does a meme about infidelity and the political policies of Hungary have to do with each other? Good question. So after these policies in Hungary were announced, how do you think the government went about promoting this information in hopes of persuading a ton of Hungarian women to take advantage of the new laws? The Hungarian government decided it was a smart idea to use the meme couple as the ideal representatives for their new billboard advertisements promoting their pro-family policies.
Either this was a cruel joke played by the marketing company or the people responsible for selecting these photos truly thought using a popular meme would grab the attention of young Hungarian women.
To make things even more interesting, this stock photo couple has a history. The origin of the meme-photo actually comes from a photographer’s photo album, who created a visual love story on shutterstock based on this (picture models) fake couple. The photo story is pretty grim. In summary, it’s a story about a failed couple with the death of a baby, cheating, domestic abuse, and divorce. The story ends with the woman escaping her violent ex-husband and then she is able to find love and happiness with another woman. View the entire photo story here or here.
This is the couple the Hungarian government used to incentivize women to have kids and get married. Imagine the U.S. government instituting the same pro-family policies and then using photos of Michael Douglas and Glen Close from Fatal Attraction, on billboards all over the country to promote awareness. Yikes. Among other things, this incident is a shining example of how pandering to younger generations can backfire. A lot of things that happen on social media platforms should stay on social media platforms because often times the context and nuance is not transferable.
Billboard photo: Euro news