KYM Review: The Top Exploitable Memes Of 2022
They start off as an image macro, maybe a cartoon or YouTube thumbnail, one person then makes a meme out of it and a template is born. Someone else catches on, creating a variant by altering text or adding other elements. If they're lucky, the meme goes viral, and more and more iterations flood the market until it's saturated.
Meme creators start scraping the bottom, fiending and fighting for further use. It becomes a race to see who can subvert the format further — who can make that next original change? Soon, they run out. There's nothing left to be exploited.
This is the typical lifecycle of an exploitable meme. Every year, new ones pop up and have their moment in the spotlight. Most don't make it past a week or two after their peak, meshing and melding with the thousands of other templates.
In 2022, however, there were almost too many good exploitable formats for a top 10 list. Some honorable mentions include We Have Come For Your Nectar, My Reaction To That Information and Homelander Getting Applause. Others were Flirting vs. Harassment and This Dog Is Fucked up Bruh. All of these trended in their own right but there were so many good ones, making the compilation of a final list "fucked up bruh."
Here at Know Your Meme, we often wonder how long these formats will last. Will they have ironic resurgences in years to come, or will they peter out, lost in antiquity, reserved for some "Meme Historian" to dig up and discover?
The following list is the top 10 exploitables of 2022. If any of the templates from this year are to survive the test of time, these are most likely the chosen ones.
Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock
When The Oscars got exciting, Chris Rock became a meme when Will Smith got offended.
- Duration: March 2022 – April 2022
- How It Started: Will Smith has always been a somewhat likable guy (despite his YouTube Rewind appearance). This year, he was also somewhat of a good actor, being nominated for "Best Actor" at the annual Oscars Awards. Even though he actually won "Best Actor" on that faithful night, most people only remember him slapping Chris Rock who made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's lack of hair.
- How It Unraveled: Even though American television editors cut out the moment, the Japanese broadcast caught it, and it went viral on Twitter thereafter. Even though Rock just bodied the slap, the rest of Hollywood didn't and they largely blackballed Smith because of it. The now notorious image of Rock post slap and Smith with his arm extended became a hot topic redraw trend and was also object labeled en masse.
A posh-looking pupper gave off an ere of homophobia, perpetrated by LGBTQ+ meme creators that subverted her growing lore.
- Duration: March 2021 – March 2022
- How It Started: The owners of a frumpy, white dog appropriately named Whitney Chewston very nonchalantly posted a picture of her behind a glass of red wine on Instagram in March 2021. Little did they know, subtle meme creators on the app crated a Whisper post with the image reading, "Not too fond of gay people." Something about Whitney's gaze alluded to the anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment.
- How It Unraveled: Although the meme first manifested in 2021, it didn't go mainstream until early this year as the original "Not too fond of gay people" image became well-known. Other text related to Whitney's humorous homophobia was layered over top of her other Instagram photos, all referencing the original meme. As time went on, the meme creators behind the trend created an arc of Whitney's acceptance of gay people. It also helped that Whitney's owners were two gay men that actually loved the meme.
Little Miss Memes
This nostalgic children's book series became a meme when modern red flags needed their own Little Misses.
- Duration: April 2022 – June 2022
- How It Started: For a lot of Gen Z, the Little Misses and Mr. Men book series were a cornerstone of their early silent reading time. The book covers always read a little bit like a meme format, so it's no wonder that they started to get remixed as the kids got older and "Little Miss Irritable Bowel Syndrome" sounded a lot more relatable. Although the meme started on Tumblr around this time last year, it wasn't until one Instagram user made a bunch of them this year that it took off en masse.
- How It Unraveled: Out of the twenty-something Little Miss parodies that Instagram user @juulpuppy crafted, many of them were later reposted to TikTok as e-girls on the app labeled each of their girlfriends with a corresponding character. Thereafter, people started making their own, sparking mass interest across the mainstream internet. Of course, parody Mr. Men memes also surfaced, officially helping just about everyone online feel represented in the trend.
That Body Of Yours Is Absurd
Out of all the canceled celebrities this year, Adam Levine's downfall was one of the worst and most horny.
- Duration: September 2022 – October 2022
- How It Started: Adam Levine went from Maroon 5 superstar to The Voice's most forgettable judge in the span of the 2010s. However, his biggest career shift came this year, when he earned the status of America's most notable alleged cheater amid a scandal that rocked social media. Out of all of the horny text messages that were leaked, one line hit the hardest and led to an exploitable that mimicked his off-color Instagram DMs.
- How It Unraveled: Besides the other classic that came out of the scandal (i.e. I May Need To See The Booty), Levine typing "That body of yours is absurd" was the most popular. The fuckboy gene present in Levine's DNA became palpably present and meme creators had a field day. They started adding any image macro with an imagined "absurd body" to the screenshot.
Kid Named Finger
Breaking Bad irony spread to Better Call Saul irony amid a fanbase that memes its favorite show through nonsensical punchlines.
- Duration: March 2022 – May 2022
- How It Started: There's something about Breaking Bad character Mike Ehrmantraut's face that is just so serious that it had to become an ironic Breaking Bad meme. Thus Mikeposting was born, and out of the Better Call Saul "final season" hype, Kid Named Finger was born, which labeled Mike with the nickname "Finger" based on the classic Jokes 101 punchline and (I don't know) just the way Mike's face kind of alluded to the word "finger."
- How It Unraveled: Oddly enough, the original meme spawned many variations, migrating from Reddit's /r/okbuddychicanery, to the original /r/OkBuddyRetard, to the depths of iFunny and then elsewhere. As the leading meme amid the "Mikeposting" category, it ultimately spawned many others like Waltuh and Put Your Dick Away Waltuh.
Beast Boy Holding Up Four
One man holding up four fingers somehow turned green as his arm looked more and more like a rolled-up Backwoods after every moldy repost.
- Duration: November 2021 – June 2022
- How It Started: An Instagram user named @freebandtez didn't think much when he posted this selfie. However, he should have known that'd it'd go viral given his creative pose that made it look like his forearm was a blunt. His resemblance to Beast Boy from Teen Titans was later revealed once meme creators put him through a filter and angled his eyebrows a little bit more.
- How It Unraveled: Going into the summer of 2022, many different fandoms across the web redrew him to match other cartoons and meme characters. Also, many people simply captioned the original green image, making many math jokes by adding more fingers to him and asking, "what's 4 × 2?"
Ouhhh… Husbant… Now We Are Homeress…
A snow-covered Japanese woman became a symbol for the disappointed wives of gamer scum.
- Duration: October 2020 – June 2022
- How It Started: This meme went viral in June but originally came from a 2020 4chan post. Some anon surfaced a photo from Japanese musician Mogusa Shirose's Instagram page. Meant to be an emotional photo in a snowstorm, the selfie was repurposed into the face of not having enough food due to a spouse's video game addiction. The concept, the visual and the use of Engrish proved to be a mega-viral meme once it resurfaced on Twitter this year.
- How It Unraveled: As stated, Twitter is where the meme went mainstream. There, meme creators started replacing the words "video games" with other hilariously non-essential expenses that wound up making the woman and her "husbant" "homeress." Soon enough, the woman was cropped and edited into many memetic settings.
I Support The Current Thing
The bandwagoning of trendy causes inspired this meme as a way to make fun of those who don't think for themselves.
- Duration: March 2022
- How It Started: Over the course of the year, there were many global, political and social controversies and events, from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to the Canadian Freedom Convoy, that sparked mass internet discourse, consisting of two sides: Those who read the internet and believe what they saw and those who believed the opposite. Skepticism is sometimes helpful and sometimes not, but inherently, thinking for oneself is always important. Making fun of those who don't is also important, thus this NPC Wojak meme was born on Twitter as a badge of disgrace for the sheeple among us.
- How It Unraveled: Shortly after the original was created in March, Elon Musk popularized the format by tweeting a version of it. Thereafter, the signifiers of many widely held ideologies were placed around the baseless face of the NPC, ranging from MAGA hat wearers to woke, PC netizens.
The woman behind this webcomic series will most likely never eat a ripe peach the same way again.
- Duration: July 2022
- How It Started: After growing her Instagram webcomic series Momlife Comics for one year, illustrator Mary Catherine Starr faced mass backlash after one specific cartoon of her's that many felt was overly critical of her husband. The internet largely agreed that the man just wanted a ripe peach and genuinely did not have to think of his children first amid the tasty snack before him.
- How It Unraveled: As the meme landed on Twitter during the summer, the two cartoon characters were all of a sudden in everyone's feed. Something about the corporate art style just left a bad taste in people's mouths and made it much easier to make fun of, as well as crop.
There was something about the nerdiest emoji that was so cute, so relatable and so remixable.
- Duration: January – February 2022
- How It Started: Last year, a Tenor user posted a flashing GIF of a 3D stock image nerd emoji that later became a trending exploitable in 2022. It all started with an Impact font caption that made fun of the Anthony Fantano's of the world, as in, those dreaded music nerds.
- How It Unraveled: The idea of the buck-toothed nerd emoji saying anything starting with "oooooh" was too hilarious not to exploit. The image macro was recaptioned en masse, starting on Twitter and moving across platforms. The nerd emoji even became commonplace in video templates on TikTok and YouTube.
Wise Mystical Tree
Internet users made the mistake of looking into this tree's eyes before they were over the age of 25.
- Duration: September 2022
- How It Started: The Wise Mystical Tree is a 2022 meme that has much more historic lore, maybe even back to biblical times. In the holy year of 2017, cartoon images of this tree were advertised in clickbait banners that told the veteran video game player that this game was a "must-have." The game in question (called Stormfall: Age of War) obviously had something to do with the tree but the odd pairing is what made the banner into a palpable meme on 4chan initially.
- How It Unraveled: During September of this year, the image of the tree spread to Twitter and TikTok with many not knowing its origin. Especially on TikTok, most people only knew it for the sweet, serenading song that it was paired with that transported them into the tree's wise and mystical setting. From there, he became a trending character that was inserted into many templates and unknowing creators found themselves on Know Your Meme, sifting through his extensive lore.
Megamind flames all incel bros within the Twitter replies of anyone worthy of getting dunked on.
- Duration: December – March 2022
- How It Started: Although Megamind looks like he's about to cry in this meme, his roast was made to hurt the recipient of the meme by labeling them a maidenless bozo. The simple top-cation image was first synthesized on iFunny around this time last year.
How It Unraveled: Going into 2022, the idea of Megamind leaning over and saying the phrase was a force to be reckoned with online. It was a weapon levied in Twitter replies and TikTok duets. A quote tweet with the image could take down the mightiest of men. Eventually, it was redrawn en masse and the word "bitches" was replaced with various words that the recipient was lacking.
Looking for more of this year's best viral phenomena and memes? Be sure to check out our other 2022 meme roundups below:
- The Top 10 Memes Of 2022
- KYM Staff Picks Of 2022
- The Slang of 2022
- Breakthrough Meme Formats Of 2022
- The Year Of AI Generators
- Top Gaming Memes Of 2022
- Wildest Stories Of 2022
- Top Streamer Moments Of 2022
- Top TikToks Of 2022
- Top Lewd Memes Of 2022
- Trolls, Rumors and Hoaxes Of 2022
- Top Exploitables Of 2022
- Top Meme Creators Of 2022
Top Meme Revivals Of 2022
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