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IRL Memes

Last posted Sep 09, 2009 at 10:59PM EDT. Added Sep 09, 2009 at 08:49PM EDT
7 posts from 3 users

I may know a lot about memes, but I have yet to learn to differentiate Internet Memes with IRL Memes. To me, they are both great, but seeing as how this site only documents Internet Memes, I have to start to separate the two.

But, that’s not the point of this discussion. I want to see how many IRL Memes people can list down and which of them are their favorites. So, let’s start with me. My favorite would have to be the Why So Serious?/Joker Make-up meme.

Off the top of my head, the only other IRL Memes I can think of are the Che Guevara meme and the Boulevard of Broken Dreams meme.

So, what others can you give me, fellow researchers? I want to know moar!

I fail to see the difference. Memes by definition are not limited to the internet. Unfortunately each of the examples you used ARE “internet” memes, in that they each came from photoshop or a variant and are prevalent online.

The cat is NOT wearing makeup, ragin’ che is a stencil, and “Fuck you I am an Anteater” is…well, it is what it is.

“Daaaa Bears” is an excellent example of a meme from before the internet, and one that I always use to explain memes.A silly SNL skit has forever changed the perception of the Chicago Bears and how they are are referenced.

I may, however, be missing the point of your discussion, in which case…

@ Mister_Chief

Actually, you completely misunderstand. I just posted variations of the IRL Memes. IRL Memes, as it is stated, are memes that have become mainstream and popularized in real life before they did on the internet. In actuality, the Joker Make-up meme was famous already while it was being advertised for the Dark Knight movie. The Che Guevara meme became famous WAY before the internet even existed, and here’s an article to prove it: Lastly, I’m not talking about the Anteater meme with the example, but another meme that started long before the internet existed as well. It’s a meme which started off as a famous painting called Nighthawks painted by an artist named Edward Hopper being parodied by other artists and poster-makers. More details about this meme are found here: So, in short, these ARE IRL Memes.

“Da Bearss”, on the other hand, is another good example of an IRL Meme which was created when the Chicago Bears were being advertised on television with people saying “the Bears” in a thick Chicagoan accent (correct me if I’m wrong). It’s also associated with “Da Bullss” if I remember right. Yup, this is an IRL Meme alright.

Also, you really didn’t miss the point. I just happened to use examples of the IRL Meme that are mixed with famous Internet Memes as well (Serious Cat, This is Sparta, and I’m an Anteater). I could have used better pictures, but these were the first ones I could find. Here’s some good examples:

ok…so we have established that I do, in fact, SUCK COCKS


Thanks for the well thought out, concise response. Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like? You, my friend, have earned a follower.

IRL Memes, as it is stated, are memes that have become mainstream and popularized in real life before they did on the internet.

It sounds like you’ve got them differentiated pretty well.
But the other key to consider is if the meme came from the mainstream.

A popular quote from a movie or song doesn’t become a meme until it becomes transformative. People must reshape it, remix it, introduce it in a new context, and essentially, give it a new meaning or purpose. This is why not all fandom can really be called an Internet Meme, and essentially why we don’t consider “The Cake is a Lie” an Internet Meme.

On the other side of the spectrum, when the source material is just pure original content, people need only mimic the behavior in order to consider it an Internet Meme.

@ Chris

I know what IRL Memes are in general, but I just have to learn to differentiate examples of it with examples of Internet Memes. I already knew, beforehand, that these memes were IRL Memes because you and other researchers have told me they are. I actually wouldn’t be able to know if something is an IRL Meme before I ask you guys. Internet Memes and IRL Memes can both mutate and be parodied, and that’s why I have a hard time differentiating them. That’s the whole point of this thread and I really need to know how I can differentiate them without the need of asking you guys for help. I want to be a little bit independent and more self-assured, so to speak.

Another reason for making this thread was so that I can see more examples of IRL Memes so I know which ones I don’t have to bother myself with in the future.

That’s where research comes in.
Look it up.
Look everywhere you can.
Pick it apart.
Figure it out.
You can’t judge a meme by face value alone.

If your supposed meme comes from a catch phrase from someone who was popular on TV or on a movie, and all people do is repeat the catch-phrase without giving it a new meaning or new context (such as satire, parody, or other commentary on the nature of the catch phrase) then it is just a pop culture reference.

What we mean by “It’s just a pop culture reference:”

If the supposed meme is just The Spy from the Team Fortress 2 video game, and you consider all of the various remixes, you can’t just refer to the entire body of work as “the Spy meme.”

You have to look for similarities in the overall theme of the derivatives. A great example would be how “Gentlemen” is a parody of the Spy, but there is a common form. The derivatives all start out with the same basic sloppy drawing, and then incorporate other elements.

It’s essentially about seeing a new theme arise that sets it apart from the original source material.


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