TLF’s Favorite Internet Memes of 2011

Most pop-culture blogs are posting their top album of movie lists at this time of year, but TLF is sticking to what we know best: The Internet. After all, it was a pretty lackluster year for music, but for internet memes? Stellar. From rainbow-pooping cats to Republican presidential candidates holding gigantic pizzas to teenage songstresses of questionable talent, there was something for everyone.

Rebecca Black’s Friday

Yes, the song is awful.  Production wise, lyrically – on any level, it’s hard to defend “Friday” as a song of any redeeming quality.  But it’s oddly hypnotic (I know all the words, and I don’t even know why!) and its brain-numbing simplicity makes it an easy – and hilarious – meme target. Not all the parodies worked but a few, like comedian Matt Mullholland’s emo cover version, were well done and inspired. I still find myself saying “we so excited” at random intervals. Usually on Friday. – KDC

Pepper Spray Cop

One of the most memorable and disturbing images of the Occupy movement – Lt John Pike casually pepper spraying UC-Davis protestors directly in the face – has become one of the year’s more darkly hilarious internet memes. The Pepper Spray Cop  has been photoshopped spraying everyone from Mr. Rogers to Sleeping Beauty to the Declaration of Independence on peppersprayingcop.tumblr.com.  I admit, that I get a little humorless when it comes to activist movements (I went to UW-Madison, yo) and people’s responses and part of me wonders if the explosion of Occupy-inspired memes are too glib, that some jokester’s seem to take the civil liberties far too lightly if they can poke fun at this.  The Pepper Spray Cop Tumblr, however seems to toe the line comfortably between absurdity and cultural commentary.  At least enough so that I am not discomforted by it. – KDC

Nyan Cat


Who could imagine that an animated gif of a Pop Tart shaped cat with a rainbow coming out of his butt combined with an irritating Japanese pop song would me the most epic internet meme of the year, but here we are. Like Rebecca Black’s Friday, the song’s viral annoyingness is a part of its appeal, but for me, the musical inventiveness of many of the meme parodies. Two of my favorites, like the orchestrated version and the dubstep remix (posted above)and several versions of the meme inject Nyan Cat with some cultural pride with Nyan Cats from Mexico, Sweden, China, and other countries. Nyan Cat is what I love most about internet memes: random, nonsensical but oddly unifying and beloved across internet subcultures- KDC

Hey Girl, Ryan Gosling

The Hey Girl, Ryan Gosling meme, where a picture of Ryan Gosling (preferably shirtless, preferably looking directly at the camera) with a ridiculous come-on line, is my favorite meme of the year, from its slow burn start in 2009. I warmed to this meme slowly, but the ridiculous themes (Hanukkah, Feminist, Public History, Silicon Valley, Librarian, Biostats — it’s like he’s a Barbie!) plus the cheeseball photos, slowly wore me down, unlike any of the appalling lines.

One of the frequent questions asked is “Why Ryan Gosling?” And my response is — who else would be more appropriate for a third-wave feminist reinterpretation of the oppositional gaze? Or crassly, why the !@#$ not?

Additionally, this meme is an unfortunately rare well-recognized form of reinterpretation specifically not only directed towards a female audience, but also female created. One of the interesting things about this meme is that some dudes seem strangely threatened by it, though the only thing menacing about Hey Girl, Ryan Gosling is that he always has both the best abs … and the best lines! -RL

Herman Cain and the Invisible Orange That Is Instead a Pizza

What end of the year list would be complete without a meme that lives up to the short half-life of most memes? For our entry this year, we give you: a Pokémon quoting Presidential candidate who … hmm, how to summarize Herman Cain? I know how! With a badly photoshopped picture of him holding a pizza! A meme that even a five year old can understand, despite its short shelf-life, this meme is now over, but the memories of its LOLs will warm our hearts, if not our pizzas, for months to come.

-RL

Peace, LOLs, and lots more memes in 2012!

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