Editor’s Note: This article is part of Know Your Meme’s annual Top Ten Review series looking back at some of the most memorable and popular memes, events and people that defined the Internet culture in 2013 as we know it.
The State of Memes in 2013
Here at Know Your Meme, 2013 has been an exciting year defined by not just one but many motifs, some familiar and some new: As per usual, selfie-driven narcissism, the Nineties nostalgia and social media justice continued to thrive on discussion forums and the blogosphere, while cringe comedy and justice porn emerged as the next “it” genres in the viral video circuit, and, in the biggest upset of the year, a new king has been crowned in the world of animal meme-dom: a clueless Shiba Inu.
- It was the year of social media narcissism, owing much to the great boom of selfies and our growing tendencies to over-share in social networking, leading the TIME magazine to declare the Millenials the “Me Me Me generation” in May. But not all selfies from this year were taken in vain or at funerals this year, as we have also seen a handful of clever memes poking fun at our obsession with beauty, including some of our favorites like pretty girls, ugly faces and “bae caught me sleeping”.
- It was the year of social justice blogging, with a vast range of major issues like racism, gender inequality and homophobia being tackled on an almost weekly basis on Twitter and the blogosphere at large, in part owing to the rise of justice porn as a staple genre on Reddit.
- It was the year of cringe comedy, an evolved form of FAIL humor that is too painful or embarrassing to witness all the way through or laugh out loud at.
#9. Video Game Logic
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Video Game Logic is an expression that can be used to highlight a wide range of absurd plot lines or physics-defying mechanics and glitches found in video games, as well as MOD gameplay footage.
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Hadokening is a photo fad that involves two or more people staging a “Ki attack” knockout sequence and photographing themselves in mid-action, as seen in the popular Japanese fighting game Street Fighter and manga series Dragon Ball. This Japanese meme came on the heels of another photo fad based on this year’s anime hit Attack on Titan and served as an inspiration for the American spin-off Vadering.
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Charles Ramsey is a Cleveland, Ohio resident who rose to internet fame in early May 2013 after assisting three women who had been missing for nearly a decade after being abducted by captor Ariel Castro. As the shocking story unraveled, Ramsey appeared in an interview segment for a local news report and gave a colorful account of how it all happened. Following the YouTube upload of the interview clip, Ramsey instantly became hailed as a hero on the web.
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Unflattering Beyonce is a photoshop meme based on humorously timed screen captures of the singer Beyonce from her half-time performance at Super Bowl XLVII. After her publicist requested BuzzFeed remove images deemed “unflattering,” the photos instantly became a trending topic in the social media and spread more widely than ever before, a phenomenon known as the Streisand Effect.
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Cringeworthy, an eponym of the words “cringe” and “worthy,” is an Internet slang term used to describe a wide range of social media blunders and FAILs that may evoke feelings of awkwardness, embarrassment or even pity.
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Starbucks Drake Hands is the nickname given to Brody Ryan, an aspiring LA rapper-slash-barista who became an accidental celebrity after a private video message he had sent to a woman was leaked on Instagram in October. The clip, which shows Brody gazing seductively at the camera while Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” is playing in the background, instantly spawned a series of parody videos featuring folks of all ages and even a few celebrities like Larry King and Rainn Wilson.
#3. Wrecking Ball
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“Wrecking Ball” is a 2013 pop song performed by singer-songwriter Miley Cyrus and the second single for her upcoming fourth studio album Bangerz. Similar to her first single from the year We Can’t Stop, the music video for the song spawned a slew of parodies upon its release in mid-September 2013.
#2. Harlem Shake
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“Harlem Shake” is a 2012 heavy bass instrumental track produced by Baauer. In February 2013, the song spawned a series of dance videos that begin with a masked individual dancing alone in a group before suddenly cutting to a wild dance party featuring the entire group. Despite what the name suggests, the videos present a wide range of hip hop dances, including the Bernie, Twerking as well as improvisations.
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Doge is a slang term for “dog” that is primarily associated with pictures of Shiba Inus (nicknamed “Shibe”) and internal monologue captions on Tumblr. These photos may be photoshopped to change the dog’s face or captioned with interior monologues in Comic Sans font.