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Why So Serious? is a meme based on the famous line from the 2008 film The Dark Knight . As the film dominated at the box offices, the meme became a viral sensation. Fans would draw The Joker’s face over themselves, celebrities, and other individuals and write “Why so serious?” across the image.
Before the film had even come out, the line was already being used as a marketing campaign. This included the creation of whysoserious.com in May of 2007, which gave hints and clues about the Joker’s persona, and his plans for Gotham CIty. Several similar sites were made, mostly featuring images with The Joker’s face drawn over them and his familiar handwriting scrawled over what was originally there.
In the original scene, black mob leader Gamble is confronted by The Joker in his hideout, and held at knifepoint. The Joker then goes on to tell him the story of how he got his scars:
You wanna know how I got these scars?
My father was a drinker, and a fiend.
One night, he goes off crazier than usual.
Mommy gets the kitchen knife to defend herself.
He doesn’t like that.
Not. One. Bit.
So, me watching, he takes the knife to her, laughing while he does it.
He turns to me and he says, “Why So Serious?”
He comes at me with the knife, “Why So Serious!?”
Sticks the blade in my mouth, “Let’s put a smile on that face!”
Why so serious?
As the film’s popularity grew, so did the meme’s. In July of 2008, searches for Why So Serious spiked not only in the U.S., but across the globe in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Sweden. Countless profile pictures were changed to the image of Heath Ledger’s joker, while others applied the Joker makeup to themselves.
The phrase began to pop up on image boards, used in the same context as U Mad?. Users would bring it up as a response to other users whose questions or comments were overly serious or uptight. Urban Dictionary defines “ Why so serious? ” as “A quote from the Joker in The Dark Knight, turned in to an internet fad/meme. Usually used on angry, emotional people who tend to go overboard or not understand jokes.”
Y So Srs?
The phrase Y So Srs? began to trend around the same time the movie opened. Though not as popular in the mainstream, the lolspeak version of the famous line became popular in places like 4chan, DeviantArt, and FurAffinity. Soon after it surfaced, someone posted an image of Serious Cat with the joker makeup photoshopped over it in a de-motivational poster, with the phrase “Y SO SRS?” in large font, and “Tonight, People Are Going To Die.” written in smaller font underneath. The image went viral, and for awhile replaced the use of the phrase.
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