A Closer Look at Meme Culture
By Tayte Barbieri
Memes have invaded our lives, and many of them provide a much-needed laugh. The definition of a meme is a humorous image, video, piece of text that is often copied, often with slight variations and spread rapidly by internet users. This loosely translates to a funny picture or video with text shared with multiple people.
The first meme to be accounted for is the 3D dancing baby meme which originated in 1996 by a company called Character Studio. In 1998, the dancing baby meme made it into the spotlight by way of the popular TV show, Ally McBeal, as “Baby Cha Cha.” In 2000, The Simpsons hopped on the dancing baby bandwagon by featuring an animation of Jesus dancing like the dancing baby. The craze had begun.
Junior Brayden Falla described his view of memes.
“It can be so many different things, and it has good framework. that's why I believe memes are so popular,” said Falla.
All memes have a lifecycle, no matter how big they are. Junior Patrick McConnell voiced his opinion on the lifecycle of a meme.
“A meme is like a joke. If you tell it too many times, it will begin to die out,” said McConnell.
A meme will start out as OC (Original Content) and after that OC is posted on a platform, it will be parodied by many other sources to try to get on the increasingly-popular bandwagon for that meme. Then after the meme gets introduced into mainstream culture, they are published on popular media outlets, including Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. The typical meme begins its downfall after it is posted on Facebook, where older people often kill the meme. After the meme dies in the depths of Facebook, it sinks back into the cyberverse until called upon again.
“Memes have become less thought out, and they have become odd templates that make zero sense,” said Junior Andrew Javrotsky.
Memes have been constantly evolving. The memes in the early 2000’s mostly consisted of a raw picture or video and no caption. For example the 2005 Nintendo 64 kids is just a raw video of kids getting a Nintendo 64 and absolutely freaking out, and it's hilarious. Now, memes consist of distorted audio or video with a nearly ironic message. The content of the meme could even be less and the meme would still grow because of the mass amounts of spam pages that upload virtually every meme, attempting to desperately try to attract attention. The ease of access to the meme is also a crucial part of the life cycle because if there were no way to share a meme to another friend via forwarding the picture/video through the internet, it would shorten the lifespan. However, if there are multiple ways of sharing the meme to friends, it will lengthen the lifespan.
Senior Dylan Amsems stated that, “Memes that have something to do with violence or making fun of a certain product have become popular because people use the products or they get all of the references, and because they are so relatable in that context, like when people watch a certain film or they read a certain script for something, and these memes reference it, everything is a reference of something.”
Memes have also transcended the entertainment industry. In a few songs made in the past few years, there have been many reference to memes in popular rap songs. For example the rapper Tory Lanez in his song “Litty” said, “See we both be making M’s; They be making memes, I’ve been making millions.”
There have also been many rappers to be considered to be meme rappers (their songs are not taken seriously by either the artist and the fans of the artist). A few examples of meme rappers would be Matt OX, BhadBhabie, Big Shaq, and the artist Ugly God are known not for the impact of their lyrics that invoke change, or even the solid beats. The main focus in their songs is the ironic and funny wordplay that often references pop culture. A few of those artists have even bridged the gap from a meme rapper to an actual artist.
Memes have become a critical part of pop culture in the 2010s. After virtually any large event in pop culture, there are usually memes spawned from it almost the next day. However, it considered by few that memes are just getting chaotic, and have detached from their roots, becoming just a distorted picture in a template. A few years ago memes were actually creative, and required thought and meaning.