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“What is this, a center for ants?” is a memorable quote said by Derek Zoolander in the 2001 comedy film Zoolander. On online forums and message boards, the phrase and its snowclone variants have been used to describe or criticize an unusually small post object or image.
In the 2001 comedy film Zoolander, the main character, Derek Zoolander (played by Ben Stiller), says the line in anger after confusing a scale model of his charity project Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good with the actual building itself.
Derek Zoolander: What is this? [smashes the model for the reading center] A center for ants?
Derek Zoolander: How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read… if they can’t even fit inside the building?
Mugatu: Derek, this is just a small…
Derek Zoolander: I don’t wanna hear your excuses! The building has to be at least… three times bigger than this!
Mugatu: He’s absolutely right you know.
In the years following the release of the film, the quote became parodied in the headlines of several news articles, including Vulture, New York Magazine and Apartment Therapy among others. By 2011, snowclone variations of the original quote, most notably “What is this? A picture for ants?” and “What is this? A video for ants?” began appearing on several internet humor sites and media-sharing communities like Memegenerator, Reddit and Cheezburger. In August 2011, the single topic Tumblr blog What is This? A ______ for Ants? was launched to curate a variety of miniature objects and tiny scale models. In February 2013, a subreddit community based on the same idea was launched under the name “r/thingsforants.”