The State of Memes in 2012
As the year comes to an end, it is now time to take a moment to look back at some of the most notable memes and happenings in 2012. It was both a tumultuous and exciting year for many of us, as we saw a number of trends continuing down from the previous year as well as some groundbreaking developments that redefined the Internet culture as we know it:
- It was the year of protests and activism, marked by massive online and offline demonstrations against a series of Internet-related bills (SOPA/PIPA, ACTA, CISPA), as well as a number of remarkable petitions relating to a wide range of political and social issues, from presidential elections and war crimes in Africa to cyberbullying and gun-control laws among others.
- It was the year of viral music video parodies on YouTube, where several artists like Carley Rae Jepsen, Gotye and PSY rose to global stardom thanks to the fans and videobloggers that have created hundreds of parody performances and cover tributes.
- It was the year of PR wars in social media, with Facebook pages of well-known companies like Nabisco, Chick-Fil-A and Papa John’s practically turning into town halls for debates on key partisan issues like gay marriage and healthcare.
- It was the year of news memes, with meme-makers latching onto the traditional news cyle and vice-versa, especially during major events like the U.S. presidential election and the Summer Olympics. Somewhat inevitably, the meaning of the word “meme” also evolved into a broader label for news stories and commentaries that are disseminated through the blogs and forums. This trend was also recognized by Merriam-Webster Dictionary in the 2012 Words of the Year list.
Best Memes of 2012
#10: Sh*t People Say
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*Sh*t People Say* is a series of parody videos exploring social, ethnic and gender stereotypes using the phrasal template “Sh*t X says.” Inspired by a single topic blog and web series titled “Sh*t Girls Say,” these videos showcase a colorful spectrum of cliches and verbal mannerisms that are often overheard in our daily lives.
#9: What People Think I Do
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“What People Think I Do” is a series of visual charts depicting a range of preconceptions associated with a particular field of occupation or expertise. Unlike image macro series that are based on singular stereotypes like Advice Animals, this series compares varying impressions about one’s profession held by others, self-image and the often mundane reality of the job.
#8: Overly Attached Girlfriend
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Overly Attached Girlfriend is an advice animal image macro featuring webcam picture of a girl and various captions portraying her in the stereotype of an overprotective and clingy girlfriend. Since rising to accidental fame, the subject of the meme has revealed her identity as a 20 year old college student named Laina Walker and now runs her own YouTube channel.
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Ermahgerd (also known as “Gersberms” and “Berks”), a lisped pronunciation of “oh my god,” is an image macro series featuring a photo of a young woman holding several books from the children’s horror fiction series Goosebumps. The phonetically written captions are meant to sound like a speech impediment caused by the use of an orthodontic retainer, often using the snowclone template “Ermahgerd X.”
#6: Ridiculously Photogenic Guy
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Ridiculously Photogenic Guy (RPG) is a photoshop meme and advice animal featuring a photo of a smiling man called Zeddie Little running in the 2012 Cooper River Bridge Run. The photo gained notoriety online after being posted to the social news website Reddit where users found the man to be exceptionally handsome.
#5: Somebody That I Used to Know
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“Somebody That I Used to Know” is a 2011 indie pop song by the Australian singer-songwriter Gotye, with additional vocals by the New Zealand singer Kimbra. In January 2012, the song and music video received massive online attention with the YouTube release of a multi-hands guitar cover by Walk Off the Earth, inspiring a series of remixes, covers and parodies.
#4: Kony 2012
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Kony 2012 is an online vigilant campaign which aims to arrest the Ugandan guerrilla group leader and head of the Lord’s Resistance Army Joseph Kony before the end of 2012. The operation seeks to create viral media to raise awareness about Kony’s use of children as soldiers and sex slaves in order to urge the American government to assist the Ugandan military in capturing him.
#3: Call Me Maybe
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“Call Me Maybe” is a 2011 dance pop single recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen. The song rose to fame online after being endorsed by pop star Justin Bieber in December 2011. Since its release, the song has inspired many lip dub tributes, parodies and covers on the video sharing site YouTube.
#2: Grumpy Cat
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Grumpy Cat is a nickname given to an angry looking snowshoe cat that gained online fame after its pictures were posted to Reddit on late September 2012 and went viral. The cat is also known as “Tard” which is short for Tardar (Tartar) Sauce.
#1: Gangnam Style
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“Gangnam Style” s a 2012 dance pop single written and performed by Korean pop singer Park Jae Sung, better known by his stage name PSY. Since its release in mid-July 2012, the highly entertaining music video has spawned hundreds of parodies and copycat dance videos on YouTube and surpassed Justin Bieber’s single “Baby” as the most watched video on YouTube with over 826 million views, as of November 26th, 2012.