What Is 'Behind The Meme,' And Why Is The Channel So Controversial?
"Hello internet, and welcome to Behind the Meme."
These words open Kyle Bryce's first YouTube video in four years, as he tackled the Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man template, conspicuously ignoring that four and a half years ago he posted a series of videos that culminated with him faking his suicide on camera and disappearing off YouTube until this Spider-Man video.
Yes, Behind The Meme is back, and with it comes a lot of questions. Here, we'll tackle the "Behind the Meme" saga that proved oddly gripping between 2016 and 2018, and look into Bryce's explanation of his lengthy absence from YouTube in the years since.
What Is "Behind the Meme"?
In 2016, Kyle Bryce entered the meme-explaining YouTuber game as "Behind the Meme." With his advice animal thumbnails and Chills-esque voice, he attempted to offer the history and context for various popular meme templates at the time. In the process, he became one of the most divisive figures among fans of memes across the internet.
Behind the Meme quickly racked up millions of views on his channel, clearly finding an open niche for meme-explainer content. With those views came intensified scrutiny, and Behind the Meme saw the usual accusations from some so-called meme connoisseurs of "killing memes" by explaining them to normies, which at the time was a much harsher insult than it's considered today. While this is par for the course for any outlet that sets out to explain memes (believe us, we know), what made Behind the Meme particularly reviled in the eyes of meme enthusiasts was his style.
To put it bluntly, Behind the Meme committed the far graver sin of coming off as cringe. To many, Bryce's voice as he read through a script peppered with rote jokes and reaction clips was unbearable, and his substantial popularity — to the tune of 600,000 subscribers within the channel's first six months — made those that hated him even angrier. It was like he was the James Corden of meme reviewers.
The Behind the Meme Backlash
The backlash to Behind the Meme initially started with fair play pranks and parodies. In November of 2016, just months after Behind the Meme initially burst onto the scene, Anthony Fantano roasted him in a parody that, among other things, accused Behind the Meme of regurgitating information already researched by Know Your Meme (Bryce later admitted to this in 2022).
In early 2017, 4channers launched a campaign to make Behind the Meme cover a meme they had just made up called Zenzi in the hopes that forcing him to research a non-existent meme would cause him psychological damage and delete his channel. In May, YouTuber EmpLemon brutally picked the channel apart in a 32-minute takedown that gained over 2.7 million views.
Things escalated to a dangerous level later that year when Behind the Meme admitted his name was Kyle Bryce on stream. In August, after covering Crash Bandicoot 'Woah,' he was doxxed.
The Behind the Meme "Suicide" Arc
While it's unclear how harshly the doxxing affected Bryce's life, things began getting scary a year later, in September of 2018, after Bryce began posting cryptic videos way out of line with his other channel's content. The videos, since scrubbed from the internet, appeared to track Bryce having a mental breakdown, drinking heavily, and sobbing as he cried "everyone hates me." On September 28th, he posted a video in which he shoots himself in the head and collapses.
These videos were fake, and Bryce had not committed suicide. He explained that the videos were dramatizations of some of his reactions to the negative feedback he'd received for his work. He even put up a vlog about the experience of police coming to check on him as a result of his disturbing content. Shortly after that, Behind the Meme disappeared.
Why Is Behind the Meme Back?
On November 23rd, 2022, Behind the Meme posted a video explaining that he is alive, which, in his words, is surprising because "We went through a pandemic and a lot of people died and that freaking sucked so I hope you're not dead."
He explained that the negativity from his channel's initial run got to him, and he didn't know how to process it. He also had a kid in the interim, which has reminded him that he missed making videos.
Since his return, Bryce's channel hasn't quite hit the heights of his early run, though a video on Ohio memes racked up 324,000 views. His style has also changed from its early days, as his videos now prominently feature his face.
Bryce faces much more competition in the meme-explainer YouTube space than he did in his channel's initial run (just saying), and it seems that the fervor his initial run caused has died down (hence why he's been back for several months at this point without much fanfare).
For more information, check out the Know Your Meme entry for Behind the Meme.
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