Monthly Review: January 2012
The year of 2012 began with unsettling rumors of an Internet apocalypse and a spectacular online protest against the U.S. legislation of controversial copyright bills PIPA & SOPA, bringing thousands of websites and tech industry heavyweights like Wikipedia, Google and Reddit together for a day of blackout protest; 4chan users’ overly harsh reviews and critiques of bikini pin-up girls quickly amounted to a satirical image macro series known as “Would Not Bang,” jabbing at the ridiculously high standards of feminine beauty set by male Internet users; The old school Nokia 3310 phones suddenly became relevant again this month as cheeky multi-pane comics describing how durable and shockproof the phone is; The advice animal character Friendzone Johnny took the Internets by the storm after a Facebook photo of a guy’s failed attempt at confessing his love surfaced on Reddit; A somewhat inspiring and somewhat confusing poetry video titled “I Hate Religion, But I Love Jesus” skyrocketed in view count upon its release, racking in nearly 18 million views and spawning a slew of parody images based on the phrasal template: “I hate X, but love Y.”
Would Not Bang, 2/10
“Would Not Bang”, sometimes referred to as “2/10, Would Not Bang”, is an image macro series in which photos of attractive looking women are scrutinized for minor or imagined flaws, prefaced by an ironically low rating on a scale of ten. The images are meant to parody hypercritical judgments made about women’s physical appeal on the Internet.
Indestructible Nokia 3310
Remember those old school Nokia phones? Now a relic of early 21st century nostalgia for many young adults in the age of smartphones, Nokia’s 3000 series mobile phones recently became immortalized by the Internet users as a symbol of absolute durability. The joke typically manifests itself in image macros in which the phone is portrayed as an indestructible object.
Friend Zone Johnny
Friend Zone Johnny is an advice animal character inspired by the infamous zone of void romance known as the Friend Zone. Featuring a picture of a smiling guy with a bouquet of flowers, the series explores some of the finest self-deprecative jokes that are rather reminiscent of the rage comic character “Forever Alone.” The series took off on January 8th when this Facebook photograph of a teenager with a flower bouquet surfaced on Reddit.
SOPA, PIPA & Operation Megaupload
The arduous campaign to raise awareness of the controversial bills came to a fruition on January 16th, 2012, when thousands of websites including Wikipedia and Reddit voluntarily went offline for a day of protest against congressional hearings of the bills PIPA and SOPA. Celebrated by the organizers as “the largest online protest in history,” stories about the blackout dominated the online buzz in the following days and weeks. To get a better sense of the campaign’s impact, here are some figures and statistics provided by the participating websites:
- 2.4 million SOPA-related tweets between midnight and 4pm (ET)
- Twitter hashtags SOPA, Stop SOPA, PIPA and Tell Congress became trending topics.
- Wikipedia drew 8 million supporters who looked up their local legislators’ phone numbers
- Wikipedia blackout was seen by an estimated number of 162 million visitors across the world
- Reddit’s daytime blackout also left a significant impression within the community, sacrificing 18.1 million minutes or 302,000 hours of time that could’ve been spent on the site.
While the protesters were able to convince legislators to withdraw their support for the bills, the epic clash between the free internet advocates and those who support copyright law enforcement didn’t simply end there, as the U.S. Justice Department promptly raided and shut down the file-sharing service Megaupload and arrested key executives on the following day. The shutdown of wildly popular Megaupload was met by angry and surprised reactions from online communities and Anonymous, which in return launched a series of DDoS attacks against government sites codenamed Operation Megaupload.
Why I Hate Religion, But I Love Jesus
“I Hate X, But I Love Y” is a snowclone used in an image macro series featuring stills from Jefferson Bethke’s monologue video “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus.” Performed by Washington-based artist Jefferson Bethke and uploaded via YouTube on January 10th, the video instantly took off and sparked a lengthy debate over the validity of the analogy.
- Brazil’s well-known columnist Gerardo Rabelo’s shoutout to his daughter Luíza in a TV commercial for his housing project went viral, making the 17-year-old study abroad student an overnight celebrity.
- The leaked audiotape of radio exchange between the captain of sunken cruise ship Costa Concordia and the Italian Coast Guard commander spawned the viral catchphrase “get back onboard, you dick.”
- The Philippines’ Department of Tourism ad campaign for 2012 inspired a Twitter hashtag and a slew of image macros mocking the slogan and its resemblance to an old tourism campaign launched by the Swiss government in the 1950s
- The Italian luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana’s decision to ban window shoppers from taking pictures of the store display angered Hong Kong netizens, who challenged the policy by organizing a flash mob-style photoshoot protest in front of the flagship store.
- French fashion retailer La Redoute caused quite a scandal (and a photoshop meme) after accidentally publishing an ad with a nudist man on its website.
- An Instagram of Venezuelan president Huge Chavez’ daughter posing with a wad of U.S. dollar bills triggered a flood of angry comments and parodies on the web.
Back on the Radar
- Bioware Bans Star Wars: Old Republic Player for Saying I’m Twelve, What is This.
- In celebrating the 11th annual event of “No Pants” Subway Ride Day, commuters around the world boarded the trains without their pants. The project, which was started by New York-based prankster group Improv Everywhere in 2002, drew participation from New York City, London, and Mexico City among others.
- Tom Harris, a Scottish Member of Parliament, uploaded a "Downfall":knowyourmeme.com/memes/downfall-hitler-reacts parody to his personal YouTube account earlier this week to poke fun at Scotland’s National Party leader. Within two days, the negative feedback from the video forced him to resign from his position.
- Right-wing conservative radio host Glenn Beck introduced a video promoting random acts of kindness in the signature style of Anonymous manifestos, drawing angry reactions from various groups claiming to be Anon-affiliated.
- After landing a book deal last month, Randall of Honey Badger fame has finally been caught on camera.
- This week, a feature film adaptation based on a newspaper ad that inspired the YTMND series “Safety Not Guaranteed” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Starring Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass, the film received raving reviews and critics’ nods for a Grand Jury Prize at the event.