You laugh at them dozens of times a day, possibly without even realizing what you’re wasting work time on. “Units of cultural expression,” or memes, have overtaken the Internet in a big way. Though they’ve been a part of society since the dawn of humanity, memes as a concept really only began to enter the cultural consciousness after the Internet began allowing for two people to make different inane comments about the same dumb picture.
Whether it’s Obama’s “not bad” face, a random yearbook photo that will haunt some person for the rest of their life or simply a cat doing something dumb-looking, people love themselves some memes. And why shouldn’t they? Memes are quick, easily digestible bits of comedy that make your typical humdrum day seem a little less like an unending slog towards the grave. And the best part is, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit everyone, whether your mind is in the clouds or in the gutter.
Let’s just not talk about how it makes you feel knowing that LOLcats counts as “cultural expression” (so does Jersey Shore, by the way), because your response is undoubtedly an unwavering sense of pride in your community.
Because we want to ask big questions, but we don’t want to think about things that are important, there is Philosoraptor. This pensive lizard openly asks the tough questions.
Questions like: When people yawn, do deaf people think they’re screaming? If Heaven is a gated community, does that mean it’s in the suburbs? If moonlight is just reflected sunlight, wouldn’t vampires burn at night, too? What’s a synonym for ‘Thesaurus’?
Ok, so there may not be any answers to those questions, but isn’t it comforting just knowing that Philosoraptor is out there, thinking about them anyway?
Feminist Ryan Gosling
Oh, Ryan Gosling. Men hate you for The Notebook, you know. And women only like you because of one shot in Crazy. Stupid. Love (okay, maybe more than that). But you can’t ignore the popularity of a meme that celebrates your supposed sensitivity.
This is just wishful thinking, ladies. You always want the compassion to match the abs. Actually, in this case, you might not be too far off. After the guy has been caught on tape breaking up street fights and saving people from oncoming cars, the guy has a bit of super hero hanging around him, so it’s not too much to expect that he also spends his off hours making men everywhere feel like ugly, insensitive jerks.
Overly attached girlfriend
If you ever needed proof that crazy eyes were a real, live readily identifiable physical trait, just take a look at this poor girl who is clearly way too excited about something.
It could have been something innocent like a new episode of Project Runway or even the discovery of a new meme, but when the Internet started adding phrases like, “We’re not going to have kids; You’re not allowed to love anything more than me” and “We’ve kissed 387 times . . . I’ve been counting,” the name Overly Attached Girlfriend only seems appropriate.
Bad Luck Brian
Ever met someone whose face you just couldn’t resist wanting to punch?
The mature, reasoning adult inside of you might take a look at this guy’s yearbook photo and you feel something approaching sympathy. After all, everyone living in the free world has taken a really bad photo of themselves at some point. It’s not as if the school photographers waits for you to look your best, or is able to photograph around braces.
And yet there’s something laugh-at-able, not laugh-with-able, about this little nerd who has the worst luck on the planet. Is it the sweater vest? The railroad tracks in his mouth? The ridiculous red hair? It all melts together into a sweet fugue of mockery that – while it won’t make you feel grown up – it will make you feel better about yourself.
Okay, droves of people went to the “Harry Potter” midnight book release parties, but even en masse they opened themselves up to some serious ridicule–at the hands of people who secretly wished they were there! Perhaps the secret (for most people) desire to completely geek out over things that could be called superfluous at best is what fuels the joy so many find in Ermagherd.
Well, that or the fact that Ermagherd photos are almost always accompanied by seemingly unintelligible text that is, frankly, a hoot to decipher. Let’s do a practice round. Read the following out loud to figure out what we’re getting at and the try to tell us you’re not more amused than McKayla Maroney.
And because we’re nice, here’s a hint to get you started: Ermagherd = Oh my God!
Obama ‘Not Bad’ Face
Turn down the corner’s of your mouth a little. Purse your bottom lip. Let your eyes lower a few degrees. Now find a mirror and try to tell yourself that things aren’t going to work out. It’s impossible.
It’s hard to get worried about the direction the country is headed when the Commander in Chief has a running series of photos in which he looks blazed out of his mind. After all, if the president is getting lit, things with Israel (and Syria, and North Korea, and the economy, and the new stuff with drone strikes, and . . .) can’t be too bad, right?
A note to all English majors everywhere: the big words you’re using right now will count for nothing as soon as you get your college degree. Remember growing up when you would use a word with three or more syllables and your friends would exclaim, “You talk weird!” and you would think to yourself, “Just wait until I’m an adult and people have learned to respect my articulation.”
That doesn’t happen. Ever.
The practical uses for your extended vocabulary begin and end with Joseph Ducreux, a meme that’s based solely upon big words sounding funny. Remember when people used to express themselves with complete accuracy? When there used to be different definitions behind words like “Awesome” and “Excellent” beyond a different way to say “Cool”? Neither do we. And soon, neither will the rest of the world!
Success kid is the go-to meme when you want to express the feeling you get when you thought a situation was going to go horribly wrong only to find out it went horribly right. Originally a photograph of a kid eating sand, the smug expression and the ersatz fist pump combine to create a kiddo that is nothing if he’s not psyched about the way his life is going.
Get to work late, but found out your boss was even later? Find a birthday card from two years ago with a fifty tucked inside? Get photographed eating sand and have the whole world assume you’re a total bada–? Then success kid is the meme for you.
If you’ve seen a computer screen in the last three years, the odds are good you have seen a cat doing something odd. Or cute. Or crazy. By and large, you can thanks LOLcats for that.
Usually identified by the combination of really awful grammar – you can have a cheeseburger, kitty, you can’t has cheezburger – and some odd cat behavior (of which there are plenty of examples), LOLcats has done wonders to revamp the image of cats everywhere.
No longer are felines relegated to a second tier status behind their bigger, dumber canine cousins. Now, they’re celebrities!
If you never heard the expression “I don’t care for the cut of their jib,” here it is in action! This gentleman in the backwards cap and imitation fur coat could be an enlightened soul who wants only to fit in with his peers. He could genuinely be a nice guy who’s fun to hang around with. And yet, his Facebook page claims he’s “the real deal,” so we sort of doubt it.
Is he really the reason pot isn’t legal? Would he really steal his grandpa’s pain meds? Probably not. Knowing that, at one point, he went by the hip hop moniker “Weezy B” helps make these things easier to believe.
The real life inspiration for Scumbag Steve most likely is not really a scumbag, but the fake things we make up about him are probably easier to overlook than the real stuff his close friends mock him for on a daily basis.
First World Problems
Memes are nothing if not snarky, and First World problems is one collection of sad but true humor that can result in an awkward moment of self-reflection if a particular problem hits too close to home. First World problems points out the enormous gap between actual struggles and those little ills.
Have you ever complained about running out of ‘skips’ on Pandora, having to choose just one of several cute accessories to wear, having to get out of bed to turn the lights off when you’re comfortable, or losing the ability to play an old computer game as a result of a system update? If so, you’ve got first world problems. It may be time to think of others with actual problems.
But seriously, buying a gift for someone on Amazon and having irrelevant and uninteresting items push their way into your recommendations as a result is the absolute worst.
One Does Not Simply
Praise be to the geeks for worshipping “The Lord of the Rings” enough to ply the Internet with Sean Bean images so thoroughly, that even the most anti-nerd can bask in the glory of things that One Does Not Simply do.
Originally derived from the phase, “One does not simply walk into Mordor”, One Does Not Simply now additionally describes shameful (One Does Not Simply get down on Friday) and impossible acts. Less commonly, “walk” can be replaced with another verb for humorous effect, this is generally coupled with a reference. A +1 Internet troll defense bonus is allotted to any one does not simply meme containing a geeky or obscure reference.
Sean Bean himself would do well to take exceptional pride in his role in the beloved meme, beyond that his most lasting impression on the general populace as being the guy who dies in everything.
Ridiculously photogenic guy
Lots of the people (and animals) on this list are most likely not thrilled with their inclusion. We doubt “Success Kid” will be really happy his Mom is a photographer when he’s 10. Scumbag Steve has gone on lengthy rants about his meme-hood (think: the last ten minutes of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). And yet, being known as the most handsome man on the Internet probably isn’t hurting this guy’s self-esteem.
Whether he’s helping turn photo disasters into works of art or earning Employee of the Month honors at a company he doesn’t work for, Ridiculously Photogenic Guy is here to let his beauty shine on the writhing masses.
Soon . . .
Perhaps the only meme that is as amusing as it is unsettling, “Soon.” is an old internet standard that is generally comprised of a lurking figure with an evil glint in their eyes and the ominous promise–variations also include soon to be victims unaware that the malicious figure is watching them.
Apart from making one cow look exceptionally fierce, the soon meme has also confirmed the fact that cats are ninja masters in the art of concealment.
Soon also begs the question: If not plotting, what is this horse doing in a building?
Aint nobody got time for dat
Poor, sweet Sweet Brown (that’s her name, not racism). After being interviewed by a local news outlet this plain spoken woman and “cold pop” lover has been repurposed by the folks at the Internet to be a mouthpiece for all the stuff ain’t nobody got time for.
Five fruits a day, eight hours of sleep a night, waiting for downloads, excessive romance, etc. Ms. Brown is one busy woman, because she ain’t got time fo dat.
Foul Bachelor Frog
Not all memes are intended for humorous purposes. Some offer deep insights into the psyche of a specific section of the human population. Take the case of “Foul Bachelor Frog,” a meme that takes an unflinching look at the less glamorous aspects of bachelorhood. Here’s a closely guarded secret: when left to their own devices, men are freaking gross.
The sample you’re looking at is one of the few that doesn’t involve masturbation of some kind.
Drunk Baby Confessions
Infants meme the darndest things. Because really dirty stuff is funnier when it’s coming out of the mouth of a child, here come “Drunken Baby Confessions!” If you want to see some cute kids with things pathetic human adults say typed all around them, this is the meme for you!
In no way, shape or form is it upsetting that there is no scarcity of photos where little kids have booze within easy reach. “Jeez, Mom, calm down! It’s for Facebook!”
Ah, Grumpy Cat: giving dog people a reason to look forward to cat pictures since 2012. The late breaking grumpy phenom, née Tardar Sauce, exploded onto the screens and hearts of web surfers in a seemingly overnight fashion.
Now we can forever rely on grumpy cat to share our lack of enthusiasm for any occasion. You hate this day? So does grumpy cat. Your boss? People who are cheerful in the morning? Technological glitches? Check, check and check. Good ‘ol grump has a heap of disdain for them all.
From “I had fun once. It was awful.” to the simple, yet effective, “No.” trust in Tardar Sauce to communicate your displeasure.
No one does heartfelt ridicule better than Gene Wilder. It’s the combination of his innocent blue eyes and his devilish, knowing grin. Rarely did the celebrated comedian articulate that emotion better than in his universally loved (but not true to the source material!) adaptation of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
Since Willy Wonka’s character in the film was used to help little children uncover the flaws in their personality (and body types), it’s only reasonable that Mr. Wonka would be resurrected in the information age to help people take a look at their own stupid behavior.
This is one meme we can wholly support. After all, the Internet has no shortage of people who need to have their stupidity pointed out in really demeaning and “funny, but only if it’s not happening to you” ways.
McKayla Maroney is not impressed
After winning the silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, young McKayla Maroney was vaulted (pardon the pun) to Internet stardom after sporting this sour puss on the podium. Some might say this is the expression of a bratty little girl who doesn’t know the meaning of good sportsmanship (and the basic point of the whole Olympic Games), but we believe this is the expression of a young woman who has unyielding standards of perfection.
Mock her all you want, you didn’t get the president to make a silly face for millions of Facebook viewers.