In the last decade, a new juicy piece of culture has emerged: the meme as we know it. As you most likely know, memes feature a picture accompanied by a caption that aims to satirize something ironic or funny. The term “meme” was coined by legendary biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene. Originally he intended “meme” to be the cultural equivalent of “gene”, meaning a bundle of info that gets passed on down the generations.
But at some point, memes took on a life of their own, and they took the internet by storm! Some memes feature cartoons, some have funny sketches, but most feature real people. And a decade of these peoples’ faces being plastered all over the internet it has made a lot of them into superstars. Who are these people? How did they become memes? And where are they now? Stay tuned for the full lowdown.
Bad Luck Brian
If you’ve been on the internet in the last ten years (which we suspect you have), then you’re probably familiar with Bad Luck Brian. The guy’s real name is Kyle Craven, and his story goes like this. Craven had always been the class clown, and for his 2005 – 2006 yearbook photo, he went to a thrift store to get a ridiculous vest, put on a stupid smile, and rubbed his face so it was red before the photo.
Thus the legend was born. His principal didn’t like the photo and made him retake it more normally, but not before he got his hands on some copies of the original. One of Craven’s friend’s posted the original on Reddit with the caption “Takes driving test, gets first DUI.” The meme went viral and Craven became a star. Since the meme emerged, he has made tens of thousands of dollars through various advertising deals.
One Does Not Simply…
This dude, Sean Bean, you probably either know from Game of Thrones, where he plays Eddard Stark, or from The Lord of the Rings, where he plays Boromir. The meme originates from a scene in The Fellowship of the Ring where all the characters are sitting around and discussing their plans and how to get to Mordor. When someone mentions entering the land of evil, Bean gets his famous moment.
The camera focuses on him and then he utters the line that would become fabled: “One does not simply walk into Mordor.” For some mysterious reason (years after the movie came out in 2001) someone took a screenshot of Bean’s moment and captioned it with something funny following the “One does not simply…” segment. The meme caught fire and since then, millions of versions of it have popped up on the net.
The Most Interesting Man In The World
The story behind the “Most Interesting Man in the World” meme goes like it this. In the 2000s, the beer brand Dos Equis aired a commercial for their product starring American actor Jonathan Goldsmith. The ad gives you a little slice of his exciting life and proclaims him to be the most interesting man in the world. It concludes with him sitting down at a table wearing a sleek suit while seated in a fancy bar with a Dos Equis beer in front of him.
Then, he busts out the timeless line: “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis.” And thus, the legend came to life. Dos Equis went on to enjoy an increase in sales of over 15%, and Goldsmith became immortalized as a meme. The format of the meme is always as such: “I don’t always [live dangerously], but when I do, I [press send without proofreading].” If you want a laugh, check out the millions of versions out there.
This little gem is a weird one. And to be honest, we (and the whole internet) are not quite sure what went down and why Rebecca Black turned into one of those famous meme faces. In 2011, she uploaded a music video for a song called “Friday.” The video got over 10 million views within the first week of its release, and Black went viral. But with all that love there also came plenty of haters.
The video received over 1.1 million downvotes on YouTube, and on many outlets, it was criticized for being monotonous and doctored with autotune. In an interview, Black expressed shock at the negativity surrounding her song. In terms of popular use, the meme is pretty versatile. It features Black’s face from a segment of her video. This is usually coupled with some ridiculous sentence pasted below and above her head.
This meme is one of the younger ones, it emerged in 2016. It features actor Kayode Ewumi grinning and pointing to his temple. Usually, the text is about some failure in critical thinking or decision making. Or alternatively, it might feature some kind of “mock epiphany”, such as, for example, “You can’t get fired if you don’t have a job.” You get the point.
The meme originates from a cut of a BBC mini-documentary called Hood Documentary. At some point in an episode, Ewumi makes a crude joke and emphasizes by pointing to his temple to indicate the thought process. After someone captured the famous screenshot and uploaded it to Twitter, it started to instantaneously combust. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and Ewumi and his meme busted into the internet hall of fame.
The earliest known example of the “Math Lady” meme dates back to 2013. It comes from a short gif featuring Brazilian actress Renata Sorrah. The micro-clip zooms in on her face while she’s looking puzzled. At some point, some genius superimposed some geometrical and mathematical schema onto the close up of her face. The result? A funny meme that is commonly used to convey confusion.
Here’s an example of the text that captions the Math Lady: “If sound doesn’t travel through a vacuum, then why is my Dyson so loud?” After all the bells and whistles were added to Sorrah’s confused look, the end product went viral, first on 9gag, and then on the rest of the internet. And Sorrah was forever inscribed into the eternal tome of memes.
According to the experts, the so-called “memeologists”, the “Conspiracy Keanu” meme is used to express shock in situations of “paranoid conjectures and absurdly philosophical questions.” For example, “If Cinderella’s shoe fit, then why did it fall off?” As you see, the meme features a young Keanu Reeves from his days in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure looking like a mix of shocked, bewildered, frightened, and confused.
In 2008, New York Magazine’s Vulture Blog featured a “field guide to the expressions of Keanu Reeves.” The priceless still shot subsequently started to be used as a reaction photo during internet chitchat. Shortly after, it went mega-wild, prompting lots of nostalgic viewings of old Reeves movies, and adding an additional shade to Reeves’s already-massive stardom.
Side Eying Chloe
Let’s all take a minute to remember Side Eyeing Chloe. This priceless little meme features a little girl’s reaction to her parents telling her that they’re taking her on a surprise trip to Disney Land. In the original meme (which was actually a gif) Chloe’s sister tears up big time at the news. Then, the camera pivots to Chloe, and we see her extremely skeptical (almost disgusted) expression.
That happened in the glorious year of 2013. Following the inception of the meme, and its consequent pandemic spread, Chloe and her family capitalized, traveling around, doing some advertising, and signing autographs. A common example of the text caption is something like this: “When you touch nasty food when doing the dishes.” These days, Chloe is a little older, and she has an Instagram following of over 600,000 people!
This is the meme that started all the hilarious slangy internet activity surrounding dogs. Doge, doggo, pupper – all of these pieces of gold come from this meme. In 2010, a Japanese kindergarten teacher posted some photos of a rescue dog named Shiba Inu. One of the cute pictures featured Shiba giving a hilarious side glance to the camera. For a couple of years, the doge meme lingered around the internet without too much momentum.
And then in 2013, a tech news website published an article identifying the doggy and disseminating the photographs. From there, the dominos started to tumble. After the publicity spike, Doge went totally viral and soon spread to pretty much every platform on the internet. The point of the meme is to cation the photo with someone’s silly inner dialogue, such as “such pillow, very sleep, wow.”
This just in: Scumbag Steve is infected with COVID-19 and participates in a hugathon. Too soon? Maybe. If so, we apologize. Scumbag Steve dates back to 2011 when someone uploaded an image of a guy named Blake Boston wearing baggy clothes and a backward cap. Later, Boston revealed that the original picture was taken by his mother. Again, to give you the best possible explanation, we turn to the experts’ definition.
According to them, the point here is to convey an “opportunistic and freeloading juvenile who wreaks havoc in various social situations.” Lol! Here’s a classic example of a caption: “Goes to high school parties, 25 years old.” Following the explosion of the meme, Boston announced his intention to capitalize on the publicity and started to release one song a week on iTunes. We have to say, Scumbag Steve is one of our favs!
Disaster Girl originates from 2004 when a guy named David Roth photographed his daughter Zoe standing in front of a firefighter training drill in North Carolina. The idea here is that the girl is responsible for starting the fire, and she is looking back demonically, betraying her guilt. It didn’t receive much attention at first, but then a couple of years later, JPG Magazine decided to take Roth’s offer and publish it.
Zoe and her diabolical look took the internet by firestorm, prompting a bunch of derivative memes. For instance, Zoe’s meme face was superimposed on a picture of the Titanic sinking. Or she was pasted into a black and white photo of Hitler’s motorcade. These days, Zoe no longer considers herself famous. She equates the Disaster Girl phenomenon with a sort of underwhelming one-hit-wonder status. She’s very chill about it.
Change My Mind
The gentleman sitting here sipping on a coffee, you may know, is American-Canadian conservative comedian and podcaster Steve Crowder. In 2018, he uploaded a picture of himself sitting behind a desk on university campus labeled “Male privilege is a myth, change my mind.” We guess his goal was to spark some debate.
As you see, the poster attached to his desk was photoshopped and made to have an exploitable space that could be filled with text, provocative or otherwise. For example, someone filled the space with “Tacos are just Mexcian hotdogs, change mind.” Another common theme was to switch Crowder’s face for another character and then make the text fit the context.
What If I Told You…?
Like so many other little nuggets of cultural controversy, this one comes from The Matrix. In the scene from which the meme derives, Morpheus (played by Laurence Fishburne) tells Neo (played by Keanu Reeves and seen here in Morpheus’s glasses) that he might be living in a simulation and that everything he knows is a lie. Interestingly, in the film, Fishburne never actually utters the sentence “What if I told you…?”
The Matrix came out in 1999, but the meme only became ubiquitous on the internet in 2012 after a Reddit user posted the original captioned image of Morpheus. As of today, the meme is usually used to convey a “revelation that often belittles futile or petty behavior.” For example, a common version is “What if I told you you can go to the gym without telling everyone on Facebook about it.”
The dude with the eternally crazy hairdo you see here is Giorgio A. Tsoukalos and he is a self-styled “alien expert.” We guess a more professional term would be “exo-biologist?” This meme comes from a History Chanel show called Ancient Aliens which purports to highlight “evidence” of human contact with extraterrestrials. Of all the alien experts and their counterpart skeptics, Tsoukalos is the most enthusiastic.
Of all the historians and other experts on the show, whenever the show discusses an anomaly, Tsoukalos is always the first to resort to the aliens explanation. The point of the derivative meme is to take something that needs explaining and just slap on “Aliens!” as an explanation. For example, “Can’t find your second sock after doing laundry? Aliens!” After someone took a screenshot of Tsoukalos mid explanation and uploaded it, the meme soon went viral.
In some ways, Grumpy Cat, or sometimes known by her real name, Tardar Sauce, is the face of the internet. She’s definitely one of the original gangstas when it comes to memes. This is how the story of the world’s most famous cat goes. Tardar Sauce is from Arizona, and her human mother is Tabatha Bundesen. The reason Tardar sauce looks grumpy is that she’s born with the cat version of dwarfism, which distorts her features a bit.
In reality, Bundesen reports that she’s not grumpy at all, she’s actually a really happy camper! In 2012, after Bundesen posted some pics online, the internet fell in love with the cute feline. The meme is used to portray someone that is extremely grumpy or antisocial: “I love Titanic, my favorite character was the iceberg!” When Tardar Sauce became a sensation, she and her momma toured around the country, making people smile.
The point of the Sucess Kid meme is to caption the picture with a short description of a situation that goes very well, or even better than expected. For instance, “Ate spaghetti while wearing a white shirt, didn’t spill.” Alternatively, the meme is sometimes used to express frustration. But in more recent years, the latter is not so prevalent. The boy in the picture is named Sammy Griner.
One day at the beach, as Sammy was enjoying snacking on some sand (yum?), his mother took this picture of him and later posted it to her Flickr account. In the following months, the photo went viral, leading CNN to do a special report and conclude in 2007 that Sammy was the internet’s most famous kid. These days, Sammy says he appreciates the fame, but he wants to be known for more than being a meme.
That’d Be Great
It’s funny how actors seem to have a knack for becoming memes. This one comes from Office Space, a comedy film released in 1999. The meme usually involves some kind of request ending with “That’d be great.” Here’s an example: “If Texas could make up its mind about the weather, that’d be great.” No doubt, it’s pretty silly, like all memes, but there is some gold out there.
What makes a meme? Who knows? If anyone knew, memes wouldn’t be a thing anymore. They’re like diamonds. If someone suddenly found a ‘recipe’ for diamonds, they would lose their value. Anyway, the guy in this meme is Bill Lumbergh (played by Gary Cole). In 2011, after someone took a shot at this point in the movie, they uploaded it on Reddit. The rest is history. Needless to say, the meme became crystallized in internet culture.
First World Problems
Silvia Bottini is the woman that became the face of the “First World Problems” meme. Her rise to fame started in 2008 when someone posted a little diagram of what counts as a 1st world problem as opposed to a real problem. For example, ‘disease’ is a real problem, while ‘my show isn’t HD’ is a 1st world problem. At some point, and it’s not clear exactly when, people started captioning 1st world problems with a picture of Silvia crying.
The idea of 1st world problems (and the meme) was further popularized when the comedian Louis C.K. did a little bit on the topic. In contrast to the weeping stock image of Silvia that became a famous meme, the real Silvia is an upbeat Italian model who has also done work on a few TV shows. As far as we know, she hasn’t publicly spoken about her meme stardom, choosing instead to keep a low internet profile and focus on her modeling and acting.
Confused Nick Young
We knew ordinary people and actors could make the seemingly random leap to meme-dom, but as it turns out, so can athletes. This is Nick Young, a professional basketball player who plays in the NBA for the Denver Nuggets. The meme spawned from a segment on the web series Thru The Lens, which features a day in the life of Nick Young.
At one point in the episode, Young’s mom says that when he was young (seriously, no pun intended), he was kind of a clown. The camera zooms on Young’s face and question marks appear around his head as Young gives the famous perplexed expression that would soon give rise to the meme. The idea is straightforward, the meme is used to convey confusion at strange propositions or circumstances. There are no captions, just the question marks.
This little pearl comes from a scene in the 1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Willy Wonka (played by the late Gene Wilder), asks the kids who won a special trip to his crazy candy factory if they would like to see a new treat he’s working on (it was an ever-lasting gobstopper). Even in the ten or so years that this meme has been around, it has undergone some drastic mutations.
At first, the meme was used to portray a creepy dude saying creepy things, but then it evolved to convey someone being not impressed or underwhelmed. For example, “You reposted an image? Please, tell me more about how original you are.” The man behind the meme, Gene Wilder, passed away in 2016 at the age of 83. He was a talented actor with a great sense of humor. We’re sure he appreciated seeing himself as a meme!
Overly Attached Girlfriend
This one is going down in the annals of internet history as a true classic. Meet (well, you’ve probably ‘met’ her face before) Laina Morris, also known by her YouTube nom de guerre, wzr0713. In 2012, Morris uploaded a video to YouTube of her doing a personalized version of Justin Bieber’s song “Girlfriend.” Morris has a great sense of humor, so she customized the lyrics such that she came off as a crazy, overly attached, even stalker-like girlfriend.
Here are some lines from her verse: “If I was your girlfriend / I’d never let you leave / without a small recording device / taped under your sleeve.” The next day, a Redditor spread the video and featured the famous shot, and the meme came alive. Sometime after the viral spread, Morris decided to leave YouTube after struggling with her career choices. She said “I couldn’t do it confidently and it really stressed me out.” regarding zeroing in on a career.
No doubt, memes are silly and sometimes they are over the top. Still, they capture the attention of the whole world, and for information, we have experts to whom we turn. So again, we’ll let the pros describe this classic. “… depicting the dinosaur as being deeply immersed in metaphysical inquiries or unraveling quirky paradoxes.” We guess the name of the meme is also pretty self-explanatory.
An example of a caption for this meme goes like this: “What if Pinocchio said, ‘my nose will never grow?'” The origin of the meme can be traced back to 2008 when a clothing designer published the image, which features a photoshopped image of a raptor from Jurassic Park. The image proved versatile and quickly saw use on multiple platforms. These days, of course, the only real raptors are found in museums, where their ancient remains are on display.
Hide the Pain Harold
With this side by side image, we really can’t tell what is the meme and what is the ordinary person, photographed on ordinary terms. The point of the meme is to express suppressed pain and/or discomfort. On the surface, there’s a smile, but under the thinly veiled smile, there’s only pain. The earliest archived instance of the meme dates back to 2011.
After some memes were posted on some smaller platforms, Facebook users soon caught on and created a dedicated page. Things happened quickly thereafter. The real man behind this meme is Arató András, a Hungarian engineer. When his image emerged online, he and his wife were skeptical, but they changed their tone following a pile of offers for commerical work. They embraced the meme and went the flow, and made some good money.
Dawson Crying, featuring James Van Der Beek, is a reaction meme. Usually, the image is captioned with a sarcastic expression of remorse, sadness, sorrow, or pity. For instance, James Van Der Beek’s crying face could be captioned with something like this: “My iPhone forced me to update to iOS 11, now I have 20 unusable apps.” The famous shot is taken from an episode of Dawson’s Creek when James Van Der Beek ends a long relationship.
The episode was aired in 2000. Then, eight years later, a blogger used the captured crying as a featured image for an article about the series. This ignited a cascade of bloggers using the same image for various articles. When asked about the meme, Van Der Beek said he absolutely loves it. In fact, he even said, “It’s my favorite thing about the whole show.”
Blinking White Guy
This meme and the vivid face that animates it are the embodiment of the word ‘incredulity.’ The guy you see here is Drew Scanlon. In a 2013 episode of Giant Bomb, a participant said something funny (albeit a bit vulgar). Namely, he referred to another participant as a certain gardening tool that starts with the letter ‘h.’ Scanlon was baffled as the camera zoomed on him blinking.
Now, the meme has tons of hilarious and silly versions. A recent one was captioned, “When you finally go to Japan and find out there are no subtitles.” Scanlon is enthusiastic about his immortalization and eternal position in the world of memes. He even used his memedom to ask the internet to make a donation to the National MS Society. Awesome!
Woman Yelling at Cat
This meme gained popularity in June last year. It’s also special in its own way: it came to life by the merging of two separate photos. On the left of the meme, we see Taylor Armstrong, who appeared on The Real Wives of Beverly Hills. The shot was captured During a heated argument with another member of the cast. On the right-hand side of the meme is Smudge the cat.
Smudge was brought to a restaurant and photoed with the caption “he no like vegetables.” The two photos together give rise to something more than the sum of their parts. One Twitter user one day randomly put the pics together and wrote, “these photos together is making me lose it.” Voila, the meme was born. The idea is to show two people in an argument, such as: “My mom telling how useless I am / 12 year old me playing Minecraft.”
Drake doesn’t really need any introduction. He’s the Canadian mega-popstar that constantly steals our hearts. After he released his hit single Hotline Bling, some unknown cultural connoisseur took two screenshots and put them one on top on the other. The top one is meant to say “No, I don’t like that”, and the bottom one says “That’s more like it.”
A current example would like this. Top: “Going to bed early during the quarantine.” Bottom: “Going to bed at 5 AM and eating all my food as a midnight snack.” Drake thinks the meme is gold. When he appeared on Saturday Night Live as the host, he said he hopes we all love him for him, and not just for the meme, obviously in good humor.
This is another one of those classics. It’s also particularly funny (and quite strange) because its story is so well documented. The point of the meme is to convey someone pretty nerdy being excited about something. And the speech is muffled because of a dental retainer. The original meme was captioned, “Ermagerd, Gersberms, mah fravrit berks.” That’s supposed to mean “Oh my god, Goosebumps, my favorite books.”
The girl you see in the meme is 11-year-old Maggie Goldenberger. When she was on a trip in India (age 23), she stopped at an internet cafe, and she saw that she had a message from a friend telling her about the meme. Maggie, who is now a nurse, says it weirds her out seeing the meme these days. She says that she never expected this to be her 15 minutes of fame, but she’ll take what she can get.
After a screen capture of Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart) from the Startrek franchise was uploaded and captioned by a Redditor, it stole the spotlight. No one is sure why it became so famous – there’s no winning recipe for making a meme – but something about it stuck. And it has even spawned a whole other generation of similar meme iterations.
The meme is straightforward. The idea is to depict someone saying “what the heck?!”, “how the heck?!”, or “why the heck?!” The ‘heck’ is interchangeable with other exclamation-appropriate words, but we’ll leave that to the imagination. Here’s an example of how the image could be captioned: “Who the heck let the dogs out?!” Picard himself hasn’t commented on the memes, but our guess is that he enjoys them.
Cash Me Ousside
To meme or not to meme? The birth of memes is nothing if not arbitrary and diverse. One fateful day on the Dr. Phil Show Danielle Bregoli and her mom came on and history was written. After some bickering and a healthy dose of brattiness, Bregoli challenged the audience to a fight. She uttered the fabled line that would propel her to stardom “Cash me outside, how bow dah”, meaning “Catch me outside, how about that.”
The screenshot and the line became a meme used to express propositions that would warrant a fight, such as “How about you save some pizza for the rest of us?” Now, Bregoli is 17 and she’s a superstar. Her stage name is Bhad Bhabie, and she has landed herself a sweet record deal. She’s now a millionaire.
Ridiculously Photogenic Guy
We all wish we could be as photogenic as the ridiculously photogenic guy in this meme. In 2012, Zeddie Little was photographed when he was participating in the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, South Carolina. When a Reddit user posted it, the picture almost immediately got 40,000 up-votes. Shortly after, Little’s face was being photoshopped onto all sorts of disastrous looking pics, including one of Tina Fey.
The whole point of the meme is just to ‘make fun’ of how photogenic and handsome he is, which is obviously a compliment, such as, “Runs marathon, wins my heart.” The internet managed to track down Little, and he agreed to give several interviews. When asked why he doesn’t model, he replied that he just never really considered it, but he would be open to the possibility.
I Don’t Know
Mia Talerico became a meme when a screenshot was taken of an episode of Good Luck Charlie. It’s a little hard to describe her expression, but maybe we could say she looks like she has no clue. When the episode aired, she was just a little tiny girl. Now she’s 11, and she’s on the way up. We assume that meme was probably super helpful for her acting career.
In popular use, the meme comes alive when the screenshot of Talerico is captioned with an express ‘I don’t know’ line. For instance, “Who drank all the wine? I don’t know.” Something about Talerico’s expressive features brings the Frankenmeme to life. These days, Talerico has over 1 million followers on Instagram and a promising career ahead of her.
Salt Bae is the famous nickname that was given to a Turkish chef named Nusret Gökçe. In 2017, Gökçe a video of him ostentatiously carving up a steak went viral. His signature move at the end of the carving was the sprinkling of some salt on the meat. The internet was lovestruck. Within 48 hours of its posting, the video got almost 2.5 million views.
It’s unclear what the idea is behind the meme, and yet there is appeal, or people would not flock to it. In contrast with other memes that are captioned with relevant text, this isn’t the case here. Nevertheless, the inception of the meme launched Gökçe to superstardom and he’s now rolling in dough. And his restaurant is among the most frequented in the world!
You Don’t Say
Like Keanu Reeves, Nicolas Cage has something about him that is inherently meme-able. There are a few different versions of Cage memes with different facial expressions, but the one below trumps the rest. The shot is taken from the 1988 film Vampire‘s Kiss. It’s generally known as the “You don’t say” meme. As one expert put it it’s “used as a sarcastic response to an obvious observation or statement.”
When someone says something extremely obvious, one might respond by sending them the cage shot captioned with “You don’t say.” When asked about the memes, Cage expressed frustration. He said they are unfair to him and the directors. He says his vivid acting style is carefully planned and meticulously thought out, and it’s a shame to see frames of his being used as satire. Oh, Nicolas… what can we say?
But That’s None of My Business
This meme of Kermit the Frog chilling by the window and leisurely sipping on a cup of tea is used, as the pros put it, “a postscript to an insult or disrespectful remark said towards a specific individual or group.” It’s great at “poking fun at a wide range of faux-pas and questionable behaviors in everyday social situations.”
So a classic example would go something like this: “In the gym for two minutes, taking a picture of yourself working out. But that’s none of my business.” The meme became popular as early as 2014 when images of The Muppets star started popping up on Instagram. We’re sure that if Kermit was ever interviewed about the memes, he would just confirm that he’s game. He has always had a good sense of humor.
Anthony Adams Rubbing Hands
The story of this meme is in good humor. Former NFL player Anthony Adams uploaded a funny story (featuring himself) called “The Love Story of Leon Lemons” to Facebook and Twitter. Following the upload in 2017, the post had a very modest number of likes, shares, and retweets for a couple of of years. Then suddenly, in 2019, something happened, and the post exploded to the forefront of the memescape.
Someone took a frame from the story and captioned it with “EA: We changed the number on the game. FIFA fans: (picture of Adams).” So it was poking fun at the fact that EA Games release a new game for each sport every year, but the only thing that really changes is the year itself, therefore it’s silly that fans are so excited about it. A later version went like this: “My limbs: *exist*. Mosquitos: (picture of Adams).” Lol.
The little boy you see here in this meme is Gavin Thomas. He’s now a superstar. He became popular on the internet when someone from his family started to future him in Vines. Something about the kid made the internet love him. Maybe the cuteness?
One shot, in particular, became crystallized in internet culture. In the frame, Gavin looks like he’s about to cry. It became a meme and now it’s commonly used to express disbelief, doubt, or confusion. Someone sends you a text saying something crazy, you send them back Gavin. These days, Gavin has an Instagram account with over a million users! He’s loving being in the internet-based spotlight.
Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That
Kimberly Wilkins’s claim to fame came in 2012 when she escaped an apartment fire in Oklahoma. She said that at first she thought someone was barbecuing, but then she quickly realized that something was wrong. After having escaped the fire, a news crew interviewed her and at some point she uttered her famous emotive line: “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Ms. Wilkins, welcome to stardom.
Nowadays her famous line and face are captioned with something that is often repressed by society and its denizens, such as “Depression. Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Wilkins is no sucker though. After an unsuccessful lawsuit against Apple for including her in a music video, she took her newfound fame to the advertisement and managed to make a ton of money! Way to make time for that.
Holding It All In
This one’s a little disgusting; the internet is a weird place. In 2014, when Michael McGee was in class, sitting next to a pretty girl, someone took a picture of him as he wore this awful, veiny facial expression. The idea is that he’s in the midst of a bitter struggle against his own body. McGee said, “we thought he [his friend] could make a funny tweet – as I and Mathew were quite well-known around school for being funny guys on Twitter.”
At first, the meme didn’t blow up, but a few years later, it totally did. It ran wild on Twitter and Instagram. Today, the meme is used to convey difficult situations, sometimes sarcastically, sometimes not, such as “When you’re vegan and you haven’t told anyone in 8 minutes.” Although the meme isn’t exactly flattering, McGee says, “I enjoy the recognition, for the most part.”
Joseph Ducreux, the French eighteenth-century artists was bustin’ out memes hundreds of years before they were a thing! Known for his at-the-time-peculiar style, many of his paintings show him grinning away and pointing at the viewer. This was super unorthodox for back then, when people in paintings were, for the most part, solemn and serious.
In 2009, some unknown but brilliant internet user uploaded this Ducreux painting captioned with “Disregard females, acquire currency.” This, according to the memeticists is “an archaic reinterpretation” of Biggie’s 1995 single “Get Money.” Since the meme’s near-spontaneous combustion, it has popped up in all sorts of variations, always portraying contemporary saying in archaic wording. We wish Ducreux was still around to see this.
Interestingly and mysteriously, this little girl’s identity is unknown. There are all sorts of speculation, but our best guess is that her parents wanted to “spare” her from the fame associated with being a meme. Bubble Girl first appeared on 4chan. The photo presented people with a good frame to cut out and superimpose onto different scenes, similar to Disaster Girl.
You can find many versions of Bubble Girl merrily running away from something behind her. In one version, she’s superimposed onto a picture featuring a mean-looking cop. In another, it looks likes she’s running from the tyrannosaurus rex from Jurassic Park. Myriad derivatives of the meme spread all over Buzzfeed and 4chan, but Bubble Girl remains unidentified.
Great Gatsby Reaction
On the eve of the release of The Great Gatsby film featuring Toby Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio in 2013, the internet founded a new meme. 43 seconds into the trailer, Gatsby (DiCaprio) raises his glass to the camera for a cheers before the scene switches to one of his roaring 1920s parties. The point of the meme is uncomplicated, it’s just to show a friendly toast.
You can usually find it captioned with lines like “Cheers, old sport.” or “Here’s to you.” So you see, the meme is quite pedestrian. Of course, the star of the meme, Leonardo DiCaprio, was mega-famous way before the meme came to life, so this was nothing for him. In fact, he’s the star of a few different memes.
Not Sure If
We all know and love the hit show Futurama. And of course, one of its best characters is the ditsy but endearing Fry. The point of the meme is to represent an internal monologue the person is not quite sure about things. The format goes like this: Top text: Not sure if X. Bottom text: Or if Y. Here’s a classic example: Not sure if hungry or just bored.
The squinting uncertain Fry piled on even more fame to his collection of celebrity in 2012 when the meme went viral. We’re not sure what’s so special about it, but somehow it does its job perfectly. Billy West, the talented actor responsible for Fry’s voice, loves it. A few years ago, he took to the internet and wowed us all by reading a few of our favorite versions of the meme. He also read some Mr. Zoidberg memes of similar hilarity.
This meme is all about the puns baby. It usually incorporates typical things people will say about academia-related things and popular skateboard culture lingo. Here’s an example of how the meme could be captioned: “This semester’s exam period is going to really be a grind.” If you’re a skateboarder, you’ll get it instantly. If not, a “grind” is what it’s called when the boarder slides down a rail or ledge on his skateboard.
The man behind the meme is named Dr. Tom Winter. He gained admiration on campus for whizzing around on his board. In 2012, someone took of picture of him and uploaded it on Tumblr. Soon after, a skateboarding magazine also got hold of the picture and published it. When asked in an interview when he plans to give up boarding, Winters said, “I’ll give you my skateboard when you take it from my cold, dead hands!” as he chuckled.
Well, my friends and comrades, the name of this meme is entirely self-explanatory. Beyoncé is a beautiful, dashing, and talented woman, but this picture is unflattering. So unflattering, in fact, that it became a meme. During the halftime performance of Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, someone snapped this pic of Beyoncé during her performance.
Shortly after the photo was uploaded to Buzzfeed, Beyoncé’s publicist got in touch with the website and told the managers to remove it because it was “unflattering.” Wrong move. The meme exploded and became huge. Now the meme is just a little piece of comedy in and of itself. For instance, you might find the picture photoshopped to show Beyoncé lifting weights. Beyoncé hasn’t directly commented, but her publicist’s request says it all.
Sheltering Suburban Mom
And once again, let’s let the experts explain it with their perfect wording. This meme is used to “satirize the stereotype of a suburban, overprotective mother who fails to practice what she preaches to her children.” So a good example would go something like this: “Says video games rot your brain, plays Farmville for six hours.”
The woman that became the meme is the best-selling writer Carly Phillips, but it’s unclear how she came to be associated with the meme. It gained popularity on Reddit in 2012 when someone uploaded a picture of Phillips and captioned it. She hasn’t publicly commented on the meme, but the internet thinks she’s staying quiet in hopes that her author brand won’t be connected to the worst versions of the meme.
The Rent Is Too High
This meme is born of a catchphrase that was said by Jimmy McMillan. during debates relating to the New York governor’s office, McMillan could often be heard proclaiming his phrase “The rent is too high!” It became his slogan. The video of the debate was filmed by someone and subsequently uploaded to YouTube in 2010.
Major outlets, such as The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and The Wall Street Journal picked up the clip and sent it spinning down the road to fame. The meme was born soon thereafter. It became a template used for expressing frustration. The format goes like this: The X is too high! Where X is substitutable with anything. For instance, “The mouse sensitivity is too high!” McMillan stands by the meme and certainly stands by the slogan.
Meagan Renea McCullough was arrested for driving under the influence in 2010. Little did she know, she was about to become a major meme. A couple of years later, someone somehow managed to get a hold of a bunch of mugshots and make a “hot mugshot” compilation and it was posted on a Japanese website. It started to slowly build momentum. A year later, McCullough’s mugshot was all over Reddit and Buzzfeed.
The meme plays on her criminality and her good looks. You might see her mugshot captioned with something like “Steals your wallet. And your heart.” When asked about the picture and the meme, McCullough said she was really surprised at seeing herself all over the web. And with regards to the photo she said that she doesn’t like it much. She noted that it’s ok, but there are far better ones of her.
Good Guy Greg
Good Guy Greg is the antithesis of Scumbag Steve. Whereas Scumbag Steve will borrow $10 from you and give back $5, Good Guy Greg will borrow $5 and give back $10. Good Guy Greg is used to depict a person who is kind, charitable, generous, empathetic, and fair. You might see his picture captioned with something along the lines of “Two slices of pizza left, takes smaller one.” or “Gets bitten by zombie, shoots himself in the head.”
Now, here’s where the plot thickens. The jury is still out with regard to GGG’s identity. In 2011 a Redditor posted a few pictures of the guy on the right and claimed to have confirmation that he was GGG. But other Redditors disputed the claim, citing some physical differences between the man and GGG. The original Redditor never was located or identified and his story has not been confirmed or dismissed.
Villanova Crying Piccolo Player
In our quest for the best satire, we can all-too-easily forget that sometimes, people are actually sincere. Still, it doesn’t stop you from becoming a meme! This woman, named Roxanne (last name unknown) was teared up in 2015 as she played her last show with her marching band during a college basketball game.
“I’m a senior in the band, so I knew that was my very last game. It’s just so easy to get emotional especially being a senior, that just changed the game for me, knowing it was my last game,” she explained in an interview. Strangely for the world of memes, this one had no real mechanism. It just is what it is, a young lady playing the piccolo and tearing up. No one said the internet is normal.
Last year, Warner Bros. impressed us all with the psychological thriller entitled Joker, featuring Joaquin Phoenix. Great movie, great acting, we recommend you see it. A warning though: it’s not a light watch. Among all the good things that the production spawned was a brand new meme. One of the most iconic scenes in the movie comes near the end when Joker is dancing on a Gotham City staircase. This is where the meme takes place.
The shot of Joker prancing around the staircase is captioned with all sorts of victorious sentiments, such as “Me celebrating beating a tough opponent online.” Sometimes the sentiment is real, and other times it’s sarcastic. Since the film is so popular, it’s hard to tell when the meme took on a life of its own, but this scene is not the only one to become a meme. All in all, Joker is very meme-able.
Yao Ming Face
The Yao Ming face is one of the OGs of memes. The intention of the meme is to express a strong dismissive attitude towards someone’s propositions (usually in online discussions). Suppose you hate pineapples on pizza, You’re in a discussion and someone says pineapples are the best toppings. You could respond with sending the Yao Ming Face.
The genesis of the meme occurred in 2009 after an interview with professional basketball player Yao Ming and a teammate. Ming cracked up and his expressive face was crystallized, forever. When someone uploaded the screenshot it went absolutely wild, it spread uncontrollably fast. Today, Ming’s b-ball days are behind him, but his meme-ing days, after over ten years, are still peaking.
You Sit On a Throne of Lies
Will Ferrell has been giving us laughs for decades. He’s one of Hollywood’s funniest, no doubt. In one of his memorable films, Buddy the Elf, which came out in 2003, he uttered the line and made the face that would become a meme. “You sit on a throne of lies!” his protagonist proclaims to a Santa Claus impostor in a mall.
The face and the feelings were brought to meme-land and made into a tool to expose someone’s lies or misleading statements. For instance: “Professor says exam will be easy. You sit on a throne of lies!” You get the idea. The movie was released in 2003 but it wasn’t until 2011 that some clever internet user decided to post the screenshot with the caption. Will Ferrell, being the legendary funnyman he is, is more than happy to be a meme.
College Freshman “highlights the all-too-familiar cliches found in campus social scenes and student life during college years,” a meme specialist explained. So you might see this image captioned with “Late to class. Runs.” or “Needs to do laundry. Doesn’t know how.” The smiling dude you see here is Griffin Kristy. While attending college in 2011 in New Hampshire, he was interviewed on the phone.
He thought that was it. Little did he know, the interviewers wanted to follow up with a photoshoot. Kristy reluctantly agreed. But then, to his astonishment, someone somehow got their hands on the photos and uploaded them to Buzzfeed. And behold the overnight birth of a meme. A few years later, Kristy returned to the spot of the birth, sported a different sweater, and took some more pictures.
Neil deGrasse Tyson Reaction
Neil deGrasse Tyson is one awesome dude. In bringing the universe’s secrets and their sophisticated physics to a wide general audience through books and documentaries, he brings smiles and awe to millions. In his meme form, he throws up his hands in a gesture meant to mock someone’s boastful or arrogant comments. The feeling it expresses is “Watch out guys, we’re dealing with a professional here” sarcastically.
Tyson’s gestures come from a clip of him talking about Isaac Newton and the invention of calculus. He puts up his hands when he explains that Newton was only 26 years old at the time. The inception of the meme, however, happened in 2011 when someone posted a status update of themselves with a time signature: Smoking [posted 2 minutes ago]. Then someone posted the reaction captioned “Uh oh, we got a bad butt here!”
Xzibit Yo Dawg
Xzibit Yo Dawg is an early classic. It dates all the way back to 2007. In the 2006 film Gridiron Game, Xzibit plays a minor role. Leading up to the film, he did a little photoshoot, producing portraits that were used to promote the film. In one of them, he’s cracking up. Also, Xzibit got a reputation for putting weird things in people’s cars (clothes dryer, for example) on his MTV show Pimp My Ride. These two factors mingled to produce the meme.
The internet went wild! They started uploading all sorts of versions of the smiling Xzibit while poking fun at his tendency to put weird things in unsuitable places. “Yo dawg, I heard you like cars, so we put a car in your car so you can drive as you drive. “Xzibit caught wind of the meme and responded by uploading a photo of himself making fun of the whole thing. We guess the end justifies the memes.
McKayla Is Not Impressed
The scowling gymnast, McKayla Maroney, went down in meme history during the 2012 Olympics in London when she failed to snatch first place. On one of her jumps, she messed up and landed on her butt. After accepting the silver medal, someone stole a shot of her and her priceless expression and it became a hit. Now, the meme is used to express exactly what it looks like it should be used for: someone who not impressed.
For example, the picture of Maroney was superimposed on a photo of Prince William tying the knot with Catherine Middleton. Maroney officially retired from gymnastics and a few years ago she expressed interest in starting a music career. She hoped that she could leverage her internet fame and her popular Instagram account to get a boost.
We all know and love (or hate) the hipster barista guy. The meme was first seen in 2011 and has been a fav ever since. Did you know that the man pictured in the meme is, in fact, a coffee boss? His name is Dustin Mattson and not only is he a barista but he actually was placed 5th place at the Southeast Regional Barista Competition and 27th place at the US Barista Championship, both in 2010, making him a perfect fit for this classic.
Dustin’s classic hipster look, complete with the statement scarf and a very serious demeanor made it an instant hit. It typically features a predetermined notion of what hipsters like, such as “Che Guevara changed my life” followed by a reality check for the supposed hipster, such as “Manager at Starbucks.”