Content Creator ‘Jslutty’ Tells Us How He Became One Of The Most Viral ‘Shocked’ Reaction Image Memes Online
In 2020, Jason Payton, better known online as Jslutty, appeared in a vlog by his friend FunnyMike. Little did he know, two years later, a shocked expression from the video in which he puts his hands on the back of his head and hits the biggest “O” face possible would become one of the most prevalent reaction images and memes on the web.
Since then, the “Shocked Black Guy” format has been photoshopped and memed all across social media, from TikTok to Twitter and beyond. We recently spoke with Jason over DMs to get the inside scoop on becoming one of the biggest reaction images in recent years to learn more about the backstory and who he is.
Q: It’s good to talk to you, Jslutty. What is it that you do online?
A: I’m a comedian. I used to just do skits on Instagram and stuff, but now I’m on YouTube trying to do bigger and better stuff.
Q: When did you start making content?
A: I started making content in 2018 or 2017.
Q: What inspired you to keep making content?
A: There were some videos going viral, like, “What your girlfriend would do if she left you,” that did like 5 million views and then it went up to 10 million[…] I was like, “I can probably do this,” and I just kept going. So nobody really inspired me to do it, I just did it myself.
Q: Where did the shocked meme come from?
A: I was in one of my dawg's vlogs FunnyMike and I guess I just made a face people liked. A lot of people laugh at the facial expressions I make and I guess that one just started taking off. It’s still floating around, I don’t even know how it got that viral. People still text me about it.
Q: When did you first see the meme starting to go around online?
A: I'd say Twitter. I don't even be on Twitter, but I started seeing it going viral out of nowhere. I’ve got a lot of little stuff that’s gone viral. I’ve got another picture of me, a baby picture that’s floating around, too. It was used in a meme like, “When your mama makes you take a picture on the first day of school” or something, a picture of me in a little yellow shirt.
Q: What was your reaction to seeing the shocked meme going viral?
A: I’m humble and happy about it but it’s like, I’m always thinking about the next step. I’m happy for the things that do go viral but I just try to be consistent with the viral moments and make money and stay focused. I’m happy, but I’m always onto the next step, like, “Okay this is going viral, let me plan something else to do.”
Q: Do you think a lot of people know that it’s you in that meme?
A: It’s 50/50, my fans will tag me on Instagram in memes. I have a big fanbase, not huge-huge, but I’ve got a couple of supporters who are always tagging me in stuff. I’ve been on Sports Center, all types of stuff. I’m happy that my face is still floating around the internet. Even if it isn’t a video [with my name on it] it’s still my face in the air.
Q: Besides this meme, what’s been your biggest viral hit?
A: I had an old video when I was coming up that had like 3 million. Last year I had a lot of videos over a million, I can’t even really tell you what video blew me up because I’ve had a lot of viral moments. A lot with FunnyMike. It’s all just motivation to keep going.
Q: You’ve got some music too. What’s the story behind that?
A: I was going through some relationship stuff and I just went to the studio and I made a song. It did well, it did like 5 million views or something. I would drop it on my pages and people started telling me I need to release it. It went viral on my Facebook then Instagram. It’s called “Vibe.”
Q: You do a lot of funny faces in your videos and thumbnails. Why is that?
A: I probably ain't gotta say nothing funny, I use my face as a weapon, too. I don't always have to say funny stuff, I can just do a facial expression that’ll make it funny. I just try to use my body movement in everything I do. You gotta bring energy into everything you do. It’s gotta be hype, you gotta do stuff to get fans who stay and watch you, so you gotta be hype.
Q: Are you still doing skit comedy? How has your content changed over the years?
A: Lately I ain’t been doing skits, but I’m doing funny stuff inside my vlogs. I’m still me, I’m just expanding my brand. I’ll still be funny in whatever I do, whatever I’m in I’m funny in it.
Q: Was there anyone in specific that used your meme that really blew your mind?
A: There was a famous African rapper, I don’t know his name but I know he’s famous. The sports pages too. There was one time Tom Brady came back or something like that […] and they used my reaction on a big sports page. I was shocked in seeing my face right there. A lot of people tagged me in that.
Q: Has the meme changed your content in any way? Have you tried to capitalize on it?
A: I was going to come out with some more stuff like pop-ups on my YouTube channel with my face. I’m still going to capitalize off of it for life, so right now I’m going to just try to make some more funny memes out of some videos. I guess I haven’t really capitalized off of it, like making merch or anything. Last year was crazy for me, I was unbalanced, but I still made it through.
Q: What are your plans for your content going forward?
A: Really I’m just trying to be consistent and network more. I just want to network and work with more people and grow. Just make content and be happy.
Q: What is it that you think people really love about the shocked meme?
A: I feel like people just like it because it’s a shocking face. People are always like, “how did you make your eyes so big?” I feel like God gave everybody special talents. Like, you’re good at something, I’m good at something and what you’re good at I’m probably not good at.
Q: Have you always been able to make people laugh with funny faces like that?
A: I just try to be me. You’ve gotta be yourself. If you try to force it, it ain’t gonna work out right, so you just gotta be yourself, that’s all. Once you be yourself, the laughs are gonna come with it. I don’t ever try to force a laugh out of anybody, I just be me. If they don’t laugh I gotta do better.
Q: You seem very confident in your content, does anything ever demotivate you?
A: I try. Sometimes I get demotivated if certain videos don’t hit a number, but I’m grateful. I didn’t upload on YouTube in like four months and I uploaded three videos and two of them hit 100k, so I’m happy.
Q: Do you have a favorite version of the meme you’ve seen?
A: I don’t have a favorite, I like everybody who’s posting it. I appreciate everybody for using it and hitting me up.
You can see more or support Jslutty on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter @Jslutty.
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