The “Scumbag Steve” meme—along with its trademark hat
—has been making the rounds on the web for about three years now, and everyone seems to be jumping on it. Let’s just say the results vary.
An example of poor use of the Scumbag Steve meme comes to us from the Seattle Department of Transportation. A since-deleted tweet showed a photo of a traffic jam with the hat superimposed above some of the cars with the adjoining copy: “You get a scumbag hat, you get a scumbag hat, everyone gets a scumbag hat! Haha I’m mean #sorry.”
Wow—they even managed to fit an Oprah reference in. While it was a clear attempt at government humor, very few actually thought it was funny.
SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan had this to say to the Seattle Times:
Our traffic-management center staff typically will use a humorous meme to highlight a problematic roadway situation. Our intent is not to insult motorists, rather it’s just to call out where there’s a problem so people can make decisions about their trip.
The organization also tweeted an apology to anyone who was offended. Prior to the offending tweet, SDOT sent this one of the same photo:
Even the mayor weighed in. Ed Murray told the Consumerist, “It’s never acceptable for a city employee to ridicule members of the public. I understand the Tweet in question was meant humorously, but many — myself included — took it quite differently.”