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Ermahgerd (also known as “Gersberms” and “Berks”), a rhotacized 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.”
On March 14th, 2012, a post titled “Just a book owners smile…” was submitted to the /r/funny subreddit with a photo of a young girl posing with three Goosebumps books and her mouth agape in excitement. A comment posted by Redditor plantlife linked to a Quickmeme submission of the photo with the caption “Gersberms / Mah fravrit berks.” The same day, the image macro was submitted in a post titled “BERKS!” which reached the front page of Reddit accumulating over 17,000 up votes within two weeks.
The humorous trope of “retainer lisp” has been portrayed through various characters in popular TV shows and films, such as Beth from the animated series Total Drama Island (shown left) and Stan’s sister Shelly from the animated television series South Park (shown right).
On March 15th, 2012, the image macro was submitted to Funnyjunk by user michellemc, receiving over 18,000 views in less than two weeks. The same day, it was posted to the Memebase site Derp with the title “Thurrrrr So Scurrrrry.” On March 16th, YouTuber Berks Gerl uploaded a video titled “Mah Fravorit Berks!”, which featured the original image macro accompanied by a voice-over narration of the caption.
On March 19th, Body Building forums member Wilsbrah posted a thread titled “Gersberms!” with the original macro embedded in the post. Other forum members responded to the thread using incorrect English mimicking the caption. On June 4th, Redditor TycoBrahe submitted a post titled “Ermahgerd! Cluhrnet!”, which included an animated GIF of Malena Ernman performing a rendition of the orchestral interlude “Flight of the Bumblee.” Within 16 days, the post received over 8,700 up votes and 270 comments.
On June 16th, Graphic Design Forum member KitchWitch submitted a thread titled “Ermahgerd”, which included several notable image macros from the series. The meme has continued to spread on Memebase and Tumblr under the tag “#ermahgerd.” As of June 20th, 2012, the “Berks” Quickmeme page has received over 4,200 submissions, the “Ermahgerd” Meme Generatorpage has received more than 1,000 items and a Facebook page for “Ermahgerd, Berks” has accumulated over 990 likes.
On March 28th, 2012, a post titled “BERKS Revealed” was submitted to the /r/adviceanimals subreddit by user superdude4agze, which included a picture of a young woman with the caption “Ermahgerd / I’m hot” (shown left). The following day, a post comparing the facial features in the two photos (shown middle) reached the front page of Reddit, which sparked a lengthy discussion over the authenticity of Superdude5agze’s photo. On March 30th, Redditor ThazCrazy submitted a post to the /r/self subreddit titled “Actual BERKS Girl”, which included a photo of a woman named Maggie (shown right) whom ThazCrazy claimed was the real Berks woman.
On June 8th, 2012, the website I Can Has Cheezburger published a post titled “Animal Memes: Ermahgerd! Er’m a Perg!”, which featured a photo of a pug staring at a box of Milk-Bone dog treats with the caption “Ermahgerd / merlkbehrns” (shown below, left). On June 16th, the pug image was submitted in a post titled “merlkbehrns” on the image remixing site Canvas, where it received several replies with other variations based on cute animal photos that were captioned with the snowclone template “Ermahgerd X” (shown below, middle, right). On June 18th, the Tumblr blog Pleated Jeans published several images from the thread in a post which received over 67,300 notes within two days. The following day, the same images were published in a post titled “7 Super Excited ‘Ermahgerd’ Animals” on the viral content site BuzzFeed.
In its beginning, the meme was primarily referred to as “Berks” after the original instance of the series, but as it continued to spawn derivatives based on other images, the more generic term “Ermahgerd” surpassed the former in terms of search interest by May 2012.