How a Character From Diary of a Wimpy Kid Became a Symbol of the Revolution

“The Manny will not be televised.”

Kristin Merrilees
Jun 23, 2020 · 3 min read
Photo Credit: Redbubble, designed by revsk

Gen Z has largely taken the lead in the movement to defund police and end systemic oppression against Black people in America, in the wake of the death of George Floyd and numerous other incidents of anti-Black violence and police brutality.

But there is one symbol you may be seeing associated with the movement which may seem a little unlikely.

That is, Manny Heffley, the character from Jeff Kinney’s book series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which has gained a cult-like following amongst many teenagers (the series is the source of numerous memes and its subreddit has over 158k users). Manny is main character Greg Heffley’s younger brother, is estimated to be 3–5 years old, and is shown to be very spoiled and manipulative in the series.

Manny with his mom and brother Greg.

But now, and seemingly very suddenly, Manny is being used as a symbol against the corruption of the policing system. According to Twitter user @/MercilessNaps, this all started due to a TikTok of Manny graffiti:

Since then, TikTok user @/themannyspotted has posted several examples of Manny, often accompanied with the phrase “ACAB” (meaning “All cops are b*****ds,” and according to Victoria Gagliardo-Silver in The Independent, used to mean that “every single police officer is complicit in a system that actively devalues the lives of people of color”).

Manny is also used in conjunction with the phrase “The Manny will not be televised,” a spin on “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” both a poem & song by Gil Scott-Heron and phrase that continues to be discussed and referenced in other cultural works. @/themannyspotted states, “acab manny is powerful & universal, its origins are the streets, its purpose is for the people.” Some even think of “the Manny” as a modern-day Kilroy was here.

Many others have since also uploaded sightings and creations of the Manny:

It’s also becoming common practice amongst many to sign a petition for the cause every time they see the Manny (this was also suggested by TikTok user @/soupytime).

ACAB Manny art and stickers are even being created and sold on sites like Redbubble.

The use of ACAB Manny shows how Gen Z often mobilizes the internet, memes, and pop culture for social causes — such as how TikTok users registered tickets en masse to the recent Tulsa Trump rally to take up seats, or how Kpop fans took over #WhiteLivesMatter and other anti-Black hashtags on Twitter, flooding them with fancams.

TikTok user @/hot.towel commented, “it’s pretty crazy how gen Z can take a cartoon character and make it into a symbol of power. imagine what we could all do, united together.”

Here is a link to petitions and ways you can help the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Kristin Merrilees

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more @ kristinmerrilees.com

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +787K followers.

Kristin Merrilees

Written by

more @ kristinmerrilees.com

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +787K followers.

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