Keanu Is Sad / Sad Keanu

Keanu Is Sad / Sad Keanu

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Updated Feb 06, 2014 at 05:02PM EST by James.

Added Jun 05, 2010 at 09:22PM EDT by digmaster.

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Sad Keanu is a photoshop meme based on a paparazzi photograph of the Canadian American actor Keanu Reeves sitting on a park bench and enjoying a sandwich by himself.


The photograph of sullen-looking Reeves eating a sandwich was taken sometime in May 2010 by the Splash News photographer Ron Asadorian[1]. The earliest known “Sad Keanu” photoshop thread can be found on 4chan-like archive called, from the /tv/ (television & films) board, dating May 23th 2010.[27] Another thread would pop-up on 4chan imageboard’s /a/ (anime) board[28] dating back to June 1st, 2010:

On June 3rd, 2010, Reddit user rockon4life posted an image with the phrase “I really enjoy acting…Because when I act, I’m no longer me” in a thread entitled “Keanu. More sadness in comments”[2]. The thread quickly made it to Reddit’s front page, gathering over 281,000 page views.


On June 4th, 2010, sympathy for Keanu spread virally across Reddit, resulting in the creation of other threads with more derivatives, such as “Instead of Chuck Norris, let’s make Keanu Reeves a meme”[3], “Keanu Reeves is Hungry”[4] and “Oh Keanu.”[5] One Reddit user also noted “if you want to truly honor Keanu Reeves, don’t do it by imitating Neo, do it by imitating Keanu Reeves. He donates money to fund cancer research.” On the following day, Reddit’s love for Sad Keanu continued with more tribute threads like “Keanu Illustrated”[6] and “Keanu Reeves should play Harley Quinn in the new Batman movie”[7], while some began to ask questions like “Reddit, why this sudden obsession with Keanu Reeves?”[8]

On June 7th, 2010, Urlesque[9] posted the article “Sad Keanu: The Latest Image Macro.” On June 8th, 2010, BuzzFeed[10] user memecore submitted an article titled “10 Best Sad Keanu Images”, where it quickly reached the Top 10 List of the day. TheDailyWhat[11] also provided coverage and follow-ups on Sad Keanu phenomenon.

Throughout the rest of June, photoshopped images of Sad Keanu spread across various social networking sites like Facebook[12], Twitter[13] and personal blogs on Tumblr[14].

Once it began to spread across Tumblr sites, the Sad Keanu meme was soon picked up by Tumblr Radar over and over again, driving up the number of derivatives even further. Sad Keanu Tumblr[15] was launched on June 10th, single topic blog[16] was launched four days later on June 14th. There’s even a fan-made @SadKeanu[17] Twitter account.

DMCA Takedown

On June 17th, received a DMCA takedown notice issued by the celebrity / entertainment news site Splash News[18] which owns the copyright to the images.

On June 18th, 2010, SadKeanu blogger Dan replaced all of the user-submitted images with a farewell post[19] on the site:

Hey Everyone,

Splash News has decided to keep their DMCA in place, as well as Tumblr, which means we may not publish any more of your awesome submissions and we must start to take down all of our previous 270+ posts. In addition, this blog will most likely be deleted in the next 48 hours by Tumblr because of the DMCA.

Although we do believe that it can fall under “fair use”, both myself and my partner don’t have any time or resources to fight it.

Thanks to everyone that helped out making this meme the most awesome one on the internet.

Since then, the site has been posting submissions that do not use the bench photo, but instead are silhouettes and other renderings of the image. News of the takedown also spread via Reddit and The Daily What.

Cheer Up Keanu Day

Following that intense waves of photoshoppery, a Facebook event entitled “Cheer Up Keanu Day”[20] was organized. Planned for June 15th, it encouraged any people to send love letters, gifts, phone messages, cancer donations or mails of any kind in order to make a special happy day for the actor. As part of the promotion, a fan-made single-topic blog named “Thank You Keanu”[21] was launched to provide a space for fans to leave sympathetic comments.

June 15th, 2010 – By decree of The Internet, June 15th is now an internationally celebrated holiday dedicated to Keanu Reeves.

The event was also covered by Digg[22], E! Online[23] and Time Magazine[24].

Keanu Reeves’ Response

On January 18th, 2011, the Hollywood actor briefly addressed his newfound internet fame in a studio interview with BBC, quoted as saying:

Do I wish that I didn’t get my picture taken while I was eating a sandwich on the streets of New York? Yeah.

The Actor

Keanu Charles Reeves (born September 2nd, 1964) is a Canadian actor known for his performances in several major motion pictures including the 1989 comedy sci-fi film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the 1994 action film Speed and the science fiction trilogy The Matrix.

His father, Samuel Nowlin Reeves Jr., abandoned him and his mother when he was 3 and has never reconnected with him. His mother, Patricia Bond, became a costume designer and showgirl who constantly remarried and divorced. This led to a constant moving, a series of different high schools, and a string of 3 stepfathers for Keanu. He had a key interest in hockey and was MVP of his hockey team, earning the nickname “The Wall”, but his dream of playing in the Olympics ended after an injury. Afterwards, he dropped out of high school to become an actor, thus starting his career. He never obtained a high school diploma. Keanu has never married and avoids most relationships.

Search Interest

Search traffic for “Sad Keanu” first began on June 4th, rising steadily until June 16th. Google Insights trends tend to lag for roughly 2-3 days so it remains to be seen how long people will have an appetite for actively seeking the meme out.

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