The internet is an amazing network that facilitates global collaboration and the rapid spread of ideas. Sometimes people collaborate to produce new tools and technology. Sometimes people organise popular movements. Sometimes, it’s just funny.
Memes demonstrate that the internet is essentially a global petri dish for ideas. Wikipedia describes a meme as “an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” As content can spread across the internet at an astonishing rate, it’s no wonder that companies are investing vast sums in online marketing campaigns with the intention of going viral across social media.
If you’re new to memes, here’s a collection of my personal favourites.
Back in 2010, Christopher Nolan pushed our cerebral capacity to the limit with the brilliant Inception, in which organisations attempted to steal sensitive information from within dreams. It wasn’t long though before the internet took a couple stills and made it all more light-hearted.
6. Thom Yorke Dances I’m a massive Radiohead fan, but the video for Lotus Flower was ripe for being mashed-up. Within hours of the new single appearing on YouTube the internet had chopped it up and soundtracked Thom Yorke’s unique dance stylings with a host of other tunes. Personal favourite: Thom Yorke vs Beyonce.
I’m also a big fan of cats and I’m not ashamed to say that lolcats is near the top of my bookmarks list. All you need is a perfectly timed photo with a caption and you’ve got something hilarious like a cat riding an invisible bike.
4. Guile Theme Goes With Everything
Each character in the classic 1991 video game Street Fighter II had their own theme music. Thanks to the power of the internet and a series of mash-ups, we have discovered that Guile’s theme music can soundtrack any video you can imagine. Remember that classic stampede scene in The Lion King? Well, you’ve never seen it like this.
3. McKayla Is Not Impressed
Still not convinced about the power of memes? Even the most powerful person on Earth gets in on the act. When Olympic gold medal favourite McKayla Maroney came second in the Gymnastics, a well timed photograph of her scowling during the victory ceremony went viral and was Photoshopped into various scenes. It seems there’s a lot that McKayla isn’t impressed by, even meeting Mr Obama himself.
2. Jonathan From Spotify Ruined Your Playlist
Spotify is a fantastic way to explore new music. When it first started, the ads seems a small price to pay for free music. But then, just a few songs into that amazing playlist you put together, up pipes Jonathan from Spotify encouraging you to subscribe. Curse you, Jonathan and your annoying voice. In a truly collaborative effort using Google Docs, the internet protested. Jonathan From Spotify Ruined Your Playlist allows you to make wild accusations about what Jonathan gets up to, often with some other pop-culture reference thrown in. Each time you refresh, you get a new statement like “Jonathan from Spotify doesn’t have his Oyster ready at the barrier” or “Jonathan from Spotify listens to music loudly on the bus”. Strangely, I haven’t heard from Jonathan from Spotify for a while now…
1. Business Cat
Speaking of business, here’s a cat who gets things right! When a picture of a cat wearing a tie was Photoshopped onto a rainbow background, the natural thing would be to add some puns that cross the business and feline worlds. Well, with the catty comments that go around some offices, they’re not that far removed!
Memes are becoming a big deal in wider society – there’s even a biennial convention celebrating them. All this shows how the internet is constantly evolving and shaping our popular culture. If you have any personal favourites, post them in the comments section below.