As with every year, 2009 was loaded with several events and creations that were converted or naturally progressed into Internet Memes. The difference this year is that few, if any, have the staying power to go beyond a couple of months of popularity.
Wikipedia defines an "Internet Meme" as:
...a phrase used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet, much like an esoteric inside joke. The term is a reference to the concept of memes, although this concept refers to a much broader category of cultural information.
In past years, memes such as "Rickroll", "PBJT", and "All your bases are belong to us" were copied, manipulated, reinvented, and made epic as a result. They stayed with us, popping up to remind us of years past when we first experienced them.
2009 has but a few potential examples of this. After reading several (1, 2, 3, 4) "Top XX" lists for 2009, it seems that the popularity of YouTube has vaulted many viral videos to be tagged as memes. Whether that's truly the case or not doesn't matter. If enough people tag the Susan Broyle video as a meme, it will be so even if I disagree.
Regardless, here are the Top 4 True Memes of 2009:
1. Kanye West Disses Taylor Swift (and the many Kanye insertions into other famous moments)
As one of the only "true" memes this year, it was epic in that it started from mainstream media and was enhanced online. The responses from outraged YouTubers were incredible with a few getting millions of views.
What made this "true" as a meme was that it was copied and applied into other situations from Kanye interrupting President Obama to thousands of image/caption insertions into current and historical events.
2. Keyboard Cat
The original keyboard cat was actually Charlie Schmidt's "Cool Cat" recorded on VHS last century. It hit the Internet in 2005 and again in 2007, but it wasn't until it became the ultimate "Play Him Off" symbol as Keyboard Cat that, when tied in with various "fail" videos, made for lulz.
The general concept is that no matter how badly someone fails, Keyboard Cat is there to take the stage until the next act comes on. Another true meme, the Keyboard Cat has a strong potential to pop up in videos beyond 2009.
While Kanye stole the stage and became a meme on national television, Three Wolf Moon took a more obscure path. As a T-shirt on Amazon, it was a quality print from the artwork of Antonia Neshev that received very little attention.
On November 10, 2008, B. Govern "Bee-Dot-Govern" posted a funny review that drew attention and eventually brought more people to review it. 1600 reviews later, it was the top selling shirt on Amazon for 3 months and is often seen worn by celebrities both in real life and in spoofed images.
It's almost taboo. Rarely has something been so polarizing as to cast one of the most powerful, unspoken groups on the Internet into civil war.
If you don't know the story, you will need to look it up yourself. Regardless, Boxxy is number 4 on the list simply because she may someday return. If she does, there's no telling what will happen.
As mentioned, many consider viral videos today as being memes. Since most have more views than some of the old-school traditional memes, they are on most lists. This expansion into meme status is based upon the way that YouTube has grown coupled with new ways to share videos through social media, but again if everyone calls them a meme, they're a meme.
5. Charlie bit my finger (plus remixes and auto-tunes) - The infectious accent. The painful scream. The Charlie chuckle. The original video has been popular since 2007, but the remixes and auto-tunes of 2009 have made it meme-material.
6. David After Dentist - Kids make for good videos. Kids drugged up at the dentist asking "is this real life" in the car make for a guaranteed viral videos.
7. Susan Broyle - If you don't know the story or haven't seen the video, it's time to stop going outside so much and watch more television and YouTube.
8. Where the Hell is Matt? - Another carryover from past years that really made its impact in 2009, the "Where the Hell is Matt?" phenomenon symbolized something for a a lot of people. What the hell it symbolized, I'm not sure, but tens of millions of people asked the question and surely it symbolized something for some of them.
9. Christian Bale Rant (explicit language)- It almost made "true meme" status with various remixes and insertions into image/captions, but it just didn't pick up enough steam. Either way, it was entertaining, even if it was a bit painful to hear.
10. Baby Dancing to Beyonce - Another baby, therefore a guaranteed viral video. The thing that made this amazing was that the baby was actually going to the beat. Most adults can't keep up to that beat.
11, JK Wedding Entrance Dance - That this couple had so many close and personal friends and relatives who could dance is a fact in itself that makes the video worth a view. That "The Office" spoofed it doesn't hurt either.
12. The Return of Bacon - It just won't go away. Then again, do we really want it to?
13. Auto-Tune - Using auto-tune when it's not normally supposed to be used (such as with Charlie above) will keep it being used. Auto-tune anything and it has a chance to be a hit (at least on YouTube).
What will 2010 bring in the way of memes? If we knew that, they probably wouldn't become memes.
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