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“Some Men Just Want To Watch The World Burn” is an expression that is often used as an ironic caption in image macros featuring a rude gesture, faux pas or blatant ignorance of instruction. It has also inspired the creation of the snowclone template “some X just want to watch the world Y.”
The phrase began appearing online after it was uttered in the July 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight (shown below) by Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth (played by British actor Michael Caine) while explaining to Bruce Wayne (played by Christian Bale) that his nemesis, the Joker, is unlike any other criminal Batman has faced.
The earliest known image macro containing the phrase as a caption was submitted to Cheezburger’s Pundit Kitchen on March 5th, 2009 featuring a photo of conservative American political commentator Rush Limbaugh.
The next year, another image macro that superimposed the phrase on a photo of Tinky Winky from the the BBC children’s program Teletubbies (shown below) began circulating the web, appearing on humor sites BestMemes, MemeDepot and Meh.Ro in May 2010 and on the Body Building forums in May 2011.
In March 2011, the phrase made its first appearance on Reddit as the title of a rage comic about the enjoyment in declining Facebook invitations. On July 19th, 2011, a Facebook page title “Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn” was created, which accumulated more than 4800 likes as of February 2013. On March 14th, 2012, the Internet humor site 9gag published several photographs of objects that had been slightly unorganized or improperly eaten titled “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” As of February 2013, the post has received more than 65,000 up votes, 4,800 Facebook shares and 295 comments. On July 19th, the Internet news blog Uproxx published a slideshow of notable image macros containing the caption. On September 15th, Redditor JustShiney submitted a photograph titled “Some men just want to watch the world burn” to the /r/funny subreddit, featuring a photograph of several Coca-Cola bottles with a lone Pepsi bottle mistakenly grouped together (shown below). The post accrued 8364 upvotes, 1542 points overall and 153 comments before being archived.
Addtional image macros can be found on the microblogging site Tumblr under the tag “#some men” and “some men just want to watch the world burn.” There has also been nearly 750 Reddit threads containing the phrase and a Quickmeme page has more than 50 submissions as of February 2013.
Searches for the phrase became popular around the time The Dark Knight was released in July of 2008, and saw a resurgence in September of 2011.