Object Labeling refers to the practice of creating image macros in which subjects of a specific image are labeled to create a humorous interpretation of the picture, which are sometimes referred to as Label Memes. Similar to exploitables, Object Labeling involves changing a picture in various ways to make different jokes. The practice began seeing use in meme making in the mid 2010s, as several meme formats from the time employed object labeling.
The practice of object labeling can be traced back to political cartoons, an artform where it is common practice to label objects in an effort to make a political point. The first political cartoon published in the United States, Benjamin Franklin's "Join or Die," was published in May of 1754 and features a disconnected snake, with each section labeled as a different American colony (shown below). Franklin's point was that if the American colonies did not unite, the nation would not succeed.
One of the earliest known Object Labeling memes came during the Console Wars of 2012. On June 5th, 2012, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was held in Los Angeles, California, where Microsoft unveiled several upcoming games and new features for the Xbox 360, Sony presented new games and updates to the PlayStation and Nintendo showed titles for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. During the conference, many animated GIFs depicting the three companies engaging in battle (shown below) were posted in a thread on the NeoGAF Forums.
Object Labeling became more popular in the mid-2010s, as several memes created from 2017-onwards involved changing a picture by labeling objects in pictures different things.
One of the first memes to start the Object Labeling trend was Respect Women. Respect Women is an image macro series featuring pictures that are ironically captioned with jokes about how the subject represents their "respect" for women.
Cracking Open a Cold One With the Boys
Cracking Open a Cold One With the Boys is a copypasta about drinking beers with a group of male friends which is often used to caption various image macros circulated within ironic meme and circlejerk communities online. Many of the images created for the meme involve labeling different images to create a "cracking open a cold one with the boys" joke.
Distracted Boyfriend, also known as Man Looking at Other Woman, is a captioned stock photo series in which a man looks at the backside of a woman walking by while another woman, presumably his romantic partner, looks on disapprovingly. Many variations of the meme involved labeling the different characters in the photos different things.
Sniper Elite Headshot
Sniper Elite Headshot is an image macro series featuring an exploitable screenshot of a bullet flying at a soldier's head in the 2017 shooter game Sniper Elite 4, which often represent the soldier and bullet as opposing forces. Nearly all the variations of the meme involved labeling the bullet and head in the original image different things.
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