Friday Not Funny: Drake Meme Appears in a NYC Parks Department Rendering
Hannah Freisberg was the first to notice the presence of Drake in a rendering created by the New York City Parks Department to tout accessibility improvements proposed for Fort Greene Park [pdf].
In the rendering, Drake is depicted in an early role as Jimmy Brooks, a wheelchair-bound teen on the Canadian soap Degrassi: The Next Generation. The image of the rapper Drake in a wheelchair has provided the Internet with a popular source of meme material, superimposing the lyrics from Drake's songs over the image of him portraying a physically disabled teenager.
Freisberg's scoop has been picked up by publications as disparate as the New York Post and music site Stereogum. Reporting for the New York Post, Joe Tacopino produces a statement from Parks Department spokesperson Sam Biederman, which quotes Drake lyrics to explain the design choice: "Started at the bottom of Fort Greene Park’s signature hill, now we’re here with the final design, which takes care to create a more welcoming park entrance – with improved views."
That's the news, and here's my opinion: It's very surprising to see public officials ostensibly working to improve accessibility in accordance with federal law referencing an Internet meme that belittles people with disabilities. That choice, and the statement that followed, reveals several errors in judgment, and it raises the question of whether the Parks Department is working in the best interest of those that they are paid, and legally and morally obligated, to represent.