Unless you have been living under a rock, been a member of some Amish tribe, or was abandoned on a deserted island for the past twenty years, you not only know how to access the internet, but you are also aware of what an internet meme is.
An internet meme (rhymes with ‘dream’) is usually a popular catch-phrase, idea or symbol which has spread as part of, or as a result of, a cultural phenomenon. It can be a video, a poster, a pun, or a tune. The word itself was coined by Richard Dawkins, in reference to the Greek word ‘mimema‘, which means to imitate.
Most modern internet memes have comic value. Others aim to shock or create drama. Memes can be aimed at creating social critique of an event, showing up a political absurdity, parodying a popular belief or occurance, or simply intended as entertainment. A meme, in fact, doesn’t even have to make sense. Most memes have become popular after being repeated and parodied ad infinitum, and becoming a cultural fixture (virtually speaking of course).
One of the first memes was the ‘dancing baby’ created for the 90s sitcom ‘Alley McBeal’ (1997 – 2002). This baby terrorised the main character, in that it was a symbol of her ‘internal clock’ which was telling her that the time would come soon when she’d be too old to get pregnant. By the end of the series, the ‘dancing baby’ almost becomes Alley’s imaginary friend, pointing out her faults and funnily making her understand certain life situations she comes across.
One can create one’s own memes – there are in fact specialised websites providing meme generators and creators, where one can insert one’s own quote or phrase, onto an already prepared popular poster. Most well-known memes, in fact, are parodies of well-known scenes from movies or series. These are used and re-used in different contexts, thereby creating a chain reaction where something is so versatile, yet brings to mind such a differently charged memory association, that the picture or poster actually becomes ridiculously funny. A good example would be the much used Lord of the Rings scene where Boromir is explaining how one cannot simply walk into Mordor to destroy the Ring of Power. This phrase ‘One does not simply…’ is usually used with the poster, depicting as many situations and emotions as one wishes.
Another favourite is the poster showing a picture of James Van Der Beek (from ‘Dawson’s Creek’) crying as if depressed and hopeless. The caption which is usually inserted can be anything, from sad, to sarcastic.
Other examples of popular memes are the so called ‘Grumpy Cat’, the ‘Overly Attached Girlfriend’ and the ‘Pedobear’, but there are countless others – too many to mention.
Many memes also comprise farcical facial expressions. One can cite the ‘Bitch Please’ face.
Or the ‘You don’t say’ face.
A meme can be a notorious video or extract from a movie, which was parodied multiple times, so much so that it has become an icon. Personally, this is my favourite:
Do you have a favourite meme, or have you ever created one of your own?