The 2,000 Yard Stare / Traumatized Soldier
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The 2,000 Yard Stare, also known as Two-thousand-yard Stare, The Thousand-yard Stare, 1,000-Yard Stare or Traumatized Soldier, refers to a painting from American artist Thomas Lea called The 2,000 Yard Stare that shows a World War II soldier staring directly at the viewer, portraying post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociation caused by battle. The painting spawned the phrase "thousand-yard stare" to describe the dissociated and shell-shocked look of soldiers and veterans. The image was used in memes predominantly in the early 2020s, gaining redraws and status as an exploitable akin to other "staring" memes like Staring Animals, the Sigma Stare and the Lightskin Stare. It was also used in Schizoposting to portray fear.
The 2,000 Yard Stare (shown below, left) was painted by American artist Thomas Lea in 1944. It depicts "a nameless real-life American Marine at the Battle of Peleliu, during World War II, in 1944." The painting was first featured in LIFE magazine's June 1994 issue (shown below, right).
Currently, the first discovered memetic usage of The 2,000 Yard Stare was a re-edit that surfaced on Reddit in 2014. On October 11th, 2014, Redditor themagicpotato posted the Minor Mistake Marvin photo to /r/funny, gaining roughly 34,700 upvotes in nine years. On the same day, Redditor el_crunz commented, "Devastating … he's got the thousand yard stare," gaining roughly 2,100 upvotes. The comment then led to a since-deleted Redditor commenting "The horror," and linking a Photoshop that edited Marvin into Lea's painting (shown below).
Usage of The 2,000 Yard Stare persisted on Reddit's /r/photoshopbattles going into 2014. In 2015, the painting started to surface on 4chan. Despite early usage, the painting didn't become a notable meme until the early 2020s. For instance, on February 5th, 2021, a 4chan user on /a/ posted a re-edit showing Shiina Alisa from Kengan Ashura (shown below, left). On July 10th, 2021, a user on Wirechan's /lain/ board posted an iteration with Lain from Serial Experiments: Lain and Terry Davis (shown below, right).
The image gained more viral and mainstream usage in late 2022 and early 2023. For instance, on November 28th, 2022, the Kanye West lyrics posted randomly Facebook page posted the image with a caption reading, "When that one song you love more than yourself reaches tiktok," gaining roughly 18,000 reactions in six months (shown below, left). On Twitter, the image became a notable reaction image. For instance, on October 9th, 2023, Twitter user @GalaxyPeaBrain posted about Kanye West's Anti-Semitism Controversies and used the image, gaining roughly 3,000 likes in seven months (shown below, right).
The image's usage continued on Twitter in early 2023.
 Joy of Museums – 'The 2000 Yard Stare' by Thomas Lea
 Google Books – LIFE June 1994
 Reddit – el_crunz's comment
 Reddit – /r/photoshopbattles
 Facebook – Kanye West lyrics posted randomly
 Twitter – @GalaxyPeaBrain
 Twitter – @tunesintern
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