“Milkshake Duck” is a meme that everyone uses and no one understands, and that’s exactly where its power is, and why it became a meme in the first place. It’s not in its explicit meaning, but in what’s implicit.
This is a logical fallacy, a non sequitur.
There are two observations, made in two different moments in time. The second observation is meant to overwrite the first, but it’s not.
Observation 1: there’s an image of a duck that looks cute.
Observation 2: the duck is racist.
This becomes a meme because it carries an afterthought. On the superficial level it’s obvious that the second observation overshadows the first with its value, but it’s also implicit that this mechanic is supposed to induce guilt: you have to regret loving this duck in the first place.
But, hey, it’s still a lovely duck. Isn’t it?
What makes it a powerful meme is specifically this retroactive effect that makes the observer feel repulsion about the original observation. We’ve been wrong, it really wasn’t a lovely duck. It’s the feeling of having been personally sullied by going through this process. It creates a contradiction, a paradox.
It happens because there’s a logical fallacy at the origin, so let’s solve it.
The image of a cute duck drinking milkshakes remains still cute after we realize this duck has racist ideas. The repulsive ideas this duck might have don’t intersect with its physical image and the way it looks.
A Nazi isn’t a bad person because this Nazi looks physically ugly. That’s a very simple human error of simplification: wanting to reduce everything to one single dimension that is easier to parse and handle. But the world is complex and defies simplification: you can still find terrible ideas even in individuals that look very pretty.
If tomorrow we find out that John Carmack is also a molester, this cannot intersect with the fact he’s a good programmer. The “good programmer” skillset doesn’t intersect with being a molester. A disgusting molester can still be a great programmer. I can still learn important things by studying this guy’s code, even after I know he’s a molester. This has *nothing* to do with “death of the author” principle. And it also doesn’t mean that my eventual appreciation of his coder skillset might diminish my condemnation of him as a molester.
These are two observations, and they are separate.
Observe reality as it is, instead of coloring it through your own biases.