Nina In New York: 2011′s Top 5 Internet Memes I Will Never Understand
A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
To my newly-born nephew, O – and those of you who are older and/or less hip than I am – I should explain that a meme is an online trend that takes off and gets stuck in the collective consciousness and which everyone thinks or pretends to think is funny or clever or interesting until it’s time to move on to the next thing. Typically within three memes, no one remembers why the first one was even a thing. By the time you are grown, I imagine that all forms of media will be reduced to this format, and you will consume
books, movies, television, and news papers in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-but-who-cares-anyway spurts of color and noise. For what it’s worth, this is what droves of youths found fleetingly entertaining this year.
5. Bronies. It’s an animated cartoon show entitled “My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic.” Its intended audience is, unsurprisingly, little girls. However, the program found an incongruous and underground fanbase in young men, who refer to them selves as “bronies.” Get it? They like ponies, but they’re bros? Yeah. So they, like, post about the ponies and add captions to pony images and there’s all this fighting on meme-azoid websites like 4chan because some people are all “pony this and pony that, ponies, ponies, ponies all the time,” and some people are like, “enough with the freaking ponies you guys. Why doesn’t anyone talk about the Carebears anymore?” Make sense? Exactly.
4. Planking, owling, horsemaning, and other junk I’m not cool enough to have heard of. First, some unknowable, universal force told people to go out and photograph themselves laying in a plank position in strange arrangements. Between two parking meters, across the wing of an airplane, on top of the Chrysler building, I don’t know. The more dangerous and creative and difficult to pull off, the better. Then planking became so ten minutes ago, and owling was all the rage. That meant perching with your knees pulled up (as is the way of the owl, were it to have knees), in similarly strange places. Then everyone was all, “owling? Who cares about owling? Horsemaning is where it’s at.” This is the most entertaining of the bunch, to be honest. It involves posing yourself in such a way that it appears you have been decapitated and your smiling face is sitting somewhere near your headless body. It’s cute. But it’s, like, so over. Now I hear it’s about “fridging,” which I think means taking a photograph of yourself hanging out in your fridge. I mean, just catch me on a Thursday night. I’m the queen of fridging. I guess I’m cooler than I realized.
3. Chicks with Steve Buscemi eyes. Simple enough. It has become popular to take a pair of disembodied Steve Buscemi eyes and photoshop them onto otherwise ocular-normal women. Like supermodels, Willow Smith, Kate Middleton, and similarly attractive celebs. It gave me a momentary chortle. After that, the effect is just creepy and frankly makes me feel a little bit badly for Mr. Buscemi, who’s just a guy, after all. One time we were on a flight from Pittsburgh with him and his family and they waited through the endless delay in the terminal with the rest of us normals. And then they waited in the taxi line! Instant like.
2. Rebecca Black. You know her. She’s the unfortunate kid whose mother did her a huge favor by paying $4,000 to let some monster write the worst song ever written so she could record it and shoot a music video. I mean, it’s bad. There’s no getting around that. But she’s 13 years old and she has had to drop out of regular school due to relentless teasing. She receives regular internet death threats. And all she did was record a terrible track with the help of some serious auto-tune? Has anybody watched a music video on MTV lately? I don’t get what’s new about this. On the internet, the line between funny and cruel is awfully thin.
1. Nyan Cat. The Nyan Cat (or perhaps it’s Mr. Nyan Cat?) is a pixel drawing of a cat’s head on a Poptart body, which was turned into an animated GIF (read: little repetitive video) in which the cat cruises through outer space, pooping out a steady stream of rainbow behind it. The clip is set to a Japanese pop song called “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!” which is, I imagine, where the cat got its name. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se, except that it is so unbelievable abstruse and quirky as to make me feel like I will never understand anything new in the world, ever again. And I’m not even 30.
What will next year bring us? Too late, doesn’t matter, it’s already whatever. So over. Keep up!
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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