These Top 12 Memes Of The Decade Told Our Stories Of Joy, Anger, And Sadness
A meme is basically a trend that is passed on person to person within a culture. It’s one of those infectious “word of mouth” kinds of things. That’s why memes go “viral,” they spread. With the internet’s ubiquity looking back at memes is like looking back at cultural moments. It’s a way of taking stock of what has happened in the past through an absurd, ironic, and humorous lens. Here’s your decade in memes.
“Come to Brazil”
The phrase celebrities heard ’round the world on Twitter. “Come to Brazil” became the battle cry of Brazilians thirsty for pop artists to acknowledge the country’s existence and just visit. Its origins cannot be fully traced, but the first documented instance of the phrase being tweeted at a celebrity was in 2009 — at Justin Bieber who had joined Twitter. For the rest of the decade, the phrase would be used both ironically and in complete earnest.
“Friday” by Rebecca Black
One of the earliest viral videos, 13-year-old Rebbeca Black’s amateur ode to the best day of the week became a beacon of the internet’s ironic humor. Discovered by The Daily What in 2011, the video garnered millions of views in just a few days. The video turned Black and the “awkward dancing girl” featured in the video into memes. However, the meme also spawned a larger conversation about what happens to random people when they get memed. Black described her experience as largely being cyberbullied.
While the “Ermahgerd” meme is probably too dated for Gen Z, the photo of the pigtailed girl holding a plethora of Goosebumps books was everywhere in 2012. The strange spelling and imagery meant the meme would be remixed and reappropriated for years.
The Harlem Shake
“Harlem Shake” by Baauer dropped in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2013 when the blogger Filthy Frank posted a video fo four people dressed in latex outfits to the song that the meme caught on. Seemingly thousands of people created Harlem Shake videos, making it one of the first and most ubiquitous video memes that required a lot more effort than reposting the same image with text. Creators had to execute a concept where something unexpected happens (usually a crazy dance or wild costumes) when the beat dropped.
Confused Brazilian Math Lady
Brazilian actress Renata Sorrah portrayed Nazare Tedesco in the popular telenovela Senhora do Destino. The image of her confused face as math algorithms emerge from it was a photoshopped reaction GIF traced back to 2013.
But That’s None Of My Business Kermit The Frog
The Muppet drinking a cup of tea became the totem of a generation seemingly obsessed with getting, sipping, and consuming the proverbial tea so to speak. The “none of my business” Kermit meme grew in popularity in 2014, spawning other Kermit memes like “evil Kermit” and “Kermit falling down the stairs.”
The fictional character and antagonist of the Mexican telenovela Maria la del Barrio, garnered an ironic following for her campy performance. Soraya’s image has been remixed millions of times, but it was the “Cries in Spanish” meme of 2014 that brought her to a mainstream audience.
We wouldn’t be saying “On Fleek” if it wasn’t for Viner Peaches Monroee who uploaded her viral selfie video on June 21st, 2014. Peaches described her eyebrows as “on fleek” and the rest is history.
Why The F**K You Lyin’
On August 29, 2015, Nicholas Fraser uploaded the “Why The F**k You Lyin'” meme to Vine. The video of him dancing and singing the lyrics to the tune of the 1997 R&B single “Too Close” by Next. The video circulated on Vine, then YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
Drake is perhaps one of the most meme-able celebrities of the decade. The 2015 “Hotline Bling” video was jampacked with dance moves and facial reactions that seemed tailored to be repurposed. The video was parodied on SNL, and turned into multiple memes including #DanceLikeDrake and #DrakeAlwaysOnBeat. It even spawned an entire movement of memes called “Drakeposting.”
The “Prankster Joe Biden” memes emerged in the 2015 campaign season and carried through 2016 — the election that solidified President Barack Obama would be ending his presidency. To lament the loss of Obama users began circulating memes that lionized the Vice President and President’s friendship. Obama is portrayed as the straight man, to Biden’s hapless but seemingly authentic antics.
Do It For The Vine (RIP)
“Do it for the Vine,” became the slogan of Viners and fans who competed to be the funniest and most outlandish on the platform for views. In 2013, Kaye Trill released a hip hop track called “Do It For The Vine.” Kids these days wouldn’t have TikTok without Vine. Founded in 2012, the revolutionary platform that only allowed six-second looping videos, paved the way for largely creators of color to showcase their comedic and storytelling skills. By 2015 it had 200 million users, by 2016 the app was shut down.