Q&A with Ned Hepburn (Origin of F Yeah Tumblrs)

Q&A with Ned Hepburn (Origin of F Yeah Tumblrs)

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The original Fuck Yeah Tumblr: Fuck Yeah Sharks


f you use Tumblr to any extent, you’re no doubt aware of the large number of blogs’ subdomains that begin with “Fuck Yeah” such as Fuck Yeah Baby Animals, Fuck Yeah Lost, and my personal favorite Fuck Yeah Albuquerque. In fact, there are so many Fuck Yeah single topic blogs that there’s even Fuck Yeah Nouns, a site that makes it easy to generate “fuck yeah” image macros for nearly any noun you can think of.

Ned Hepburn is a freelance writer and creator of Fuck Yeah Sharks, the progenitor of all Fuck Yeah Tumblrs. I caught up with Ned to see if we could pinpoint why “Fuck Yeah” has been such a success.


Q: You started Fuck Yeah Sharks on October 25th, 2008. Is that correct? What motivated you to create it?

A: I was living in LA working as a struggling actor and took a job at this BBQ restaurant named Oinkster a few blocks from where I lived in Eagle Rock, CA. I’d come back from the shift reeking of smoked pork and me and my girlfriend Nicole would smoke a ton of weed from my trusty honey-bear bong to make ourselves forget I was working at basically this jumped-up fast food joint. I was going through a stage of looking at things like spiders and bears and things and as to which, for some strange stoner logic, I ended up thinking putting LOL-captions on sharks was hilarious. And now there’s 30,000 Fuck Yeah blogs. So it goes.

Since then, I was able to quit working in pork and have gotten to write for a whole bunch of publications, websites. It’s been quite a wild ride so far.

Q: The 2004 movie Team America World Police featured the song “America, Fuck Yeah” in 2004. Do you think that this in any way influenced the popularity and success of “Fuck Yeah” on Tumblr?

A: I’d like to think so. I think most people had been saying it for a while, just never en masse. It’s strange how the ‘Fuck Yeah’ thing became so synonymous with Tumblr; it must’ve been good timing.

Q: Are you familiar with the meme “Fuck Yeah Seaking” based on the Pokemon character?

A: No! I’m too old for Pokemon jokes. Ask me about 80’s movies and Saved By The Bell references.

Little did Ned know that 4chan’s /b/ board had already begun the Fuck Yeah Seaking meme in 2007, a full year before he created Fuck Yeah Sharks. For a moment, I thought that possibly Fuck Yeah Seaking was really responsible for the success of Fuck Yeah on Tumblr. That is, until I realized that no one created a Fuck Yeah Seaking Tumblr until April 6th, 2009 before quickly abandoning it. It seems /b/’s beloved Fuck Yeah Seaking never found a voice among Tumblr users.

Q: Have you ever met TopherChris? What’s he like? Why doesn’t he respond to my emails? If I tell him that I know you, what are the chances that we’ll become BFFs?

A: I have. He’s like a strange hybrid of the 90’s cartoon Freakazoid crossed with the Lebowski in the body of what might be the bastard son of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Holly Hunter. He’s a really chill guy. If you tell him you know me he’ll probably try to arm wrestle you to show dominance and then ask you three riddles but after that he’ll probably hang out for a bit before his Chuck Mangione “Feels So Good” ringtone starts and he has to be somewhere.

Q: What do you think is the single most important factor responsible for Tumblr’s widespread appreciation for all things “Fuck Yeah”?

A: Positivity. I remember, once, for a brief period, there was a “Fuck No Ned Hepburn” blog that someone made about me. They updated it for about a week and abandoned it. As to which, it’s pretty hard to maintain something based off of negativity and hatred, so I think a lot of it has to do with people being positive about whatever they’re blogging / writing / fuckyeah’ing about.

The other part is originality. I really like “Fuck Yeah Albuquerque” because whoever does that does (I think almost entirely) original memes. Fuck Yeah Ryan Gosling was one of the first to pop up after Fuck Yeah Seaking and it’s still fucking great because it’s simple and very effective. What works best on pretty much anything creative is simplicity and originality and these single-serving blogs offer that inherently.

Author’s Note

In the end, it seems entirely plausible that Team America World Police was the unconscious inspiration for Fuck Yeah Seaking, Fuck Yeah Sharks, and the rest of the Fuck Yeah memes on the web. And while Fuck Yeah Seaking existed prior to Fuck Yeah Sharks, it grew out of /b/ before the communities of Tumblr and 4chan showed much recognition or appreciation of one another. (See 4chumblr).

From examining the Google search trends for “America Fuck Yeah,” “Fuck Yeah,” and “Fuck yeah” – (minus) “America” it becomes clear that although Team America may have planted the seed, it was around the date of the creation of Fuck Yeah Sharks that we see the fast yet steady increase in “Fuck Yeah” even without “America” attached. While this isn’t proof positive that Fuck Yeah Sharks was the primary amplifier of the trend, it fits the time frame enough to satisfy me. …And until TopherChris starts returning my emails, I’ll take Ned at his word.

UPDATE!: At the time of writing this I’ve just been informed that Osama Bin Laden has been killed. Upon checking /b/, the phrase “America Fuck Yeah” is at the top of the page while the song plays in the background. Fuck Yeah, America!

Ned Hepburn is a freelance writer and regularly posts on his Tumblr blog. This interview was conducted over e-mail on April 29th, 2011 by Chris Menning, Viral Media Researcher at BuzzFeed.

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