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Fresh Willem Dafoe vs. Lighthouse Willem Dafoe refers to a comparison meme format which uses images of actor Willem Dafoe in 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and the 2019 film The Lighthouse. The format, first used in 2020, gained popularity in March 2021, with both images also used independently as reactions.
On July 7th, 2003, Italian photographer Philippe Antonello took a promotional photograph of actor Willem Dafoe for the 2004 film Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (cropped version shown below, left). The photograph was made public in November 2004, appearing in articles about the film.
Prior to June 12th, 2020, an unknown Facebook user posted the image, captioning it "I aspire to have a fraction of the drip Willem Dafoe has." On June 12th, 2020, Twitter user @Fujyno copied the post, with iFunny user Hoodies5life posting a screenshot of the Facebook post on June 23rd (shown below).
On July 2nd, 2020, Twitter user @TheLoganTrent posted a comparison meme using the photograph and a promotional photograph of Willem Dafoe for the 2019 film The Lighthouse taken by photographer Eric Chakeen. The post, which used the photographs to compare years 2019 and 2020, received over 38,400 retweets and 326,100 likes in one year (shown below).
The comparison format did not see spread until March 1st, 2021, when Twitter user @itsdannyneary posted a similar March 1st 2020 vs. March 1st 2021 tweet that gained over 81,700 retweets and 539,100 likes in six months (shown below).
In the following months, several viral tweets using one or both of the photographs were posted on Twitter and other social media. For example, on March 29th, 2021, Twitter user @filmdaze posted a Suez Canal Jam meme that gained over 17,900 retweets and 135,700 likes in five months. On May 15th, 2021, Twitter user @itsdannyneary posted a meme that gained over 18,600 retweets and 183,400 likes in four months (shown below, right).
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