Written by Joseph Carrick
As 2019 concludes, it is important to reflect on lessons learned from this past year. Most important of all: how many memes we managed to get through this year. If you happened to notice, 2019 is also the end of the 2010’s decade, and to commemorate such an important milestone, this advent calendar will be taking a look at memes not just from 2019, but from this entire decade.
The trend that started it all and thus shall start the list: Rickrolling. This bait and switch prank involved hyperlinking the 1987 “Never Gonna Give You Up” as a seemingly relevant contribution to an online discussion. Other famous YouTube memes from 2010 include the “Miss South Carolina Teen USA” with her incoherent answer to a question ironically about uneducated Americans, and “Leave Britney Alone” from early YouTube celebrity Chris Crocker.
2011 saw an explosion of the meme format and widespread pranking. The first meme formats include Scumbag Steve, Futurama Fry, the woke college freshman, business cat, the chemistry cat, the most interesting man in the world, Nyan cat, Alien man from the history channel, the unhelpful substitute teacher meme, anything Siri related, women laughing with plates of salad, and the baby godfather. Horsemanning and planking were two of the first early pranks that exploded on the internet.
2012 introduced the internet to Ridiculously Photogenic Guy, Bad Luck Brian, Suddenly Clarity Clarence, the really high guy, the overly manly man, Grumpy Cat (RIP), drunk baby, Ermahgerd Girl, Overly Attached Girlfriend, the botched “Ecce Homo” painting, unimpressed McKayla at the Olympics, the Bad-Joke Eel, and the Skeptical Third-World Child.
2013 saw the release of the Doge meme (wow), Brent Rambo approves of the Internet, Unflattering Beyonce, and Obama Skeet Shooting. In addition to these memes, twerking kicked off after Miley Cyrus did it at the MTV Video Music Awards (although it has existed since the 90s). Additionally, the Harlem Shake, “What Does the Fox Say?”, and “Hotdogs or Legs?” all took the nation by storm.
2014 saw Leo DiCaprio running topless and “but that’s none of my business” Kermit become meme formats. Kim Kardashian casually broke the internet via her nude photographs in Paper magazine, the Sign Bunny took over Twitter, and anything relating to the incompetence of the Sochi Olympics became memes before the Olympics even started.
2015 was apparently the year of memeing the music industry. Drake’s “Hotline Bling” music video was memed to death, Katy Perry’s Left Shark stole the spotlight, everyone remembered Jessie J existed, and Nicki Minaj called out Miley Cyrus in some long-forgotten drama. In addition, “Netflix and Chill” began the trend of using Netflix as more than just mere background noise.
2016 gave us Arthur’s fist, Dat Boi, Petty Skai Jackson, Harambe, Damn Daniel, Bone App the Teeth, Evil Kermit, Ted Cruz (the Zodiac Killer), and the “don’t talk to me or my son ever again.” The Mannequin Challenge also exploded in this year.
2017 was the year of food! Saltbae, the Italian Navy, Lamb sauce, and Bröther’s öats were all used to further our culinary-based memery. Trump’s blank Executive Order was also used to declare anime (among other things) illegal.
2018 gave rise to Women Squinting, anime asking if something was a pigeon, the most ambitious crossover event in history, and not feeling so well. Change my mind, Getting this Bread, Surprised Pikachu, and Evil Patrick also captured our hearts and Twitter feeds alike.
Finally, let’s examine 2019. Michaela Coel from “Black Mirror” gave us sass, the Super Bowl Selfie Kid was a bit crass, and the Tide POD challenge took over the internet en masse. To end the year and thus the decade, the internet has been a generous god and granted us “OK Boomer,” Baby Yoda, and the Untitled Goose Game.