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Red Circle Perpetrators refers to a subset of memes in which a red circle is edited into images in a manner similar to clickbait images, with the circle showing a character not originally in the image, portraying them as present at the scene, usually as a perpetrator. Launched by Trojan Horse Chuu memes in late 2021, the format saw further spread in Summer 2022 with animal and Taylor Swift versions.
In 2014 or earlier, an unknown user posted a Chuck Norris meme in which actor Chuck Norris was edited into a photograph of a lone car proceeding ahead on a highway while everyone turns in the opposite direction. In the image, the photograph of Norris is placed inside a circle with an arrow pointing at the car, in a manner similar to clickbait images, "zooming in" on the driver (shown below). The image was widely circulated in mid-2015s, with multiple posts on Facebook, 9GAG, Twitter and other sites.
The meme format started with Trojan Horse Chuu, a series of images in which a circled picture of Chuu from K-pop girl group LOONA was edited in to look as if she was present at the event. On September 26th, 2020, Twitter user @hwmhm posted the first such image, with the post gaining over 2,000 retweets and 11,000 likes (shown below, left). The image did not spawn a format until November 16th, 2021, when LOONA stan account @loonapostagem tweeted their own version which received over 2,000 retweets and 13,000 likes (shown below, center). On November 21st, 2021, Twitter user @vaisefudechuu posted an edit of the Chuck Norris highway meme that gained 5 retweets and over 60 likes (shown below, right).
In the following weeks, more Trojan Horse Chuu memes were posted on Twitter and shared on other social media.
The format mutated further on June 1st, 2022, when Twitter user @ratiothesenuts posted an edit of the Chuck Norris highway meme, editing in their profile picture of a dog in round glasses. The post received over 1,100 retweets and 12,100 likes prior to being removed (shown below).
In the following days, the image was widely circulated online. For example, on June 2nd, 2022, Tumblr user joshloves you posted the image, with the post gaining over 6,800 likes and reblogs in two months. Starting on that day, users on Tumblr posted similar memes, editing various characters into the image. For example, on June 4th, Tumblr user pinkmoondoll9shihtzu posted an edit in which they added Chainsaw Man character Power, with the post gaining over 1,200 likes and reblogs in two months (shown below, left; another example shown below, center).
On June 15th, 2022, Twitter user @catfactory posted an meme in which they edited a low-resolution photograph of the White House in the same fashion, with the post gaining over 820 retweets and 3,900 likes in two weeks and effectively decoupling the format from the highway photograph (shown below, right). On July 17th, 2022, Twitter gimmick account Animals with Captions (@AnimalsCaptions) posted a reformatted version of the same meme which gained over 1,900 retweets and 20,000 likes.
Taylor Swift Versions
In late July 2022, following the Taylor Swift's Private Jet controversy, Red Circle Perpetrator memes about the singer gained popularity. On July 30th, 2022, Twitter user @emopunkloser posted the first such meme, editing Taylor Swift as the pilot of the aircraft hitting the Twin Towers. The post gained over 5,900 retweets and 64,100 likes in four days (shown below, left; more examples shown below, center and right).
Where's Goku refers to a series of memes in which the Dragon Ball character Goku is added to various images in an inconspicuous way, with another portion of the image highlighted with a red circle to act as a red herring. The format gained popularity on Twitter and Reddit in July 2021.
Name Soundalikes are words and phrases that sound like LeBron James' name, among other celebrities and characters such as Markiplier or MrBeast, found in Google searches and on Wikipedia pages (some examples being "the Bronze Jade," "the Bomb Bay" and "the Bron Jame"). The screenshots are layered with red circles, arrows and lines that zoom in to a picture of James, or whomever the corresponding celebrity is. It also builds on the similar Red Circle Perpetrators trend. The meme started on Twitter in mid-2022 and then quickly spread to Instagram and Reddit.
Is It Really Worth It?
Is It Really Worth It? is a caption used for satirical, anti-animal cruelty memes that pretend common items and food are actually the body parts of animals, one example being the tapioca balls in boba tea (bubble tea) actually being the eyeballs of cute mice. The memes emphasize their points using red lines and circles, similar to the Red Circle Perpetrators trend. It started in 2016 on Reddit.