USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Meme’
Digital
general
Humor

Pointy Thing Meme

Informant SM is a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He is very passionate about philanthropy, specifically helping poorer parts of India and aspires to one day become a doctor. The informant tells me(AK) about a very popular meme regarding the recent construction on USC’s campus.

SM: Let me tell you about this new meme, it’s called the “Pointy Thing” meme (shows picture on phone). pointythingmeme

AK: I actually haven’t seen this one, can you explain a little about how this started?

SM: You know, I’m actually not sure. I just remember seeing someone post about it on the USC meme page and it kind of took off from there.

AK: Do you think this says anything about our student body?

SM: I think it’s a great thing that we’re all able to make jokes about something like this. You know, even Nikias posted about these “pointy things” on his Instagram, so it just seems like something everyone can laugh about.

I found this piece to be incredibly interesting because not only did it feature a very modern form of media, but also because it referenced the specific folklore of a college. In today’s day and age, people are always in search of a form of immediate gratification. Memes are the perfect outlet for quick jokes or puns because they feature a short amount of text that highlight a funny or playful picture. For this reason, memes are the perfect way for something like this to spread quickly across a college campus to the point where even the president hears about it. The other thing that made this so interesting to hear about is the fact that it is relevant only to USC. Any group, large or small can have folklore, and this piece is a testament to that fact.

Digital

Bob Ross Twitch Meme

Informant: Alex is a 23-year-old from Southern California. He self-identifies as a gamer. He also frequently uses Twitch, a website that allows people around the world to stream videos – especially of themselves playing video games – live.

Main Piece:
twitch-bob-ross

Background Information about the Performance: This piece was found online by the informant. It depicts Bob Ross, a famous painter and TV personality, painting the Twitch logo. Bob Ross is a popular meme on Twitch following a nine-day-long marathon of his original program, The Joy of Painting. In this meme, his face has been replaced by another Twitch meme, Kappa. Kappa is a prominent emote used on Twitch videos.

Context of Performance: This meme is spread around internet communities, specifically through Twitch and other social media sites.

Thoughts: This particular meme is somewhat unique as it combines two separate memes in the Twitch community. It is also notable as it is authored media that has become a meme spread around the community.

Humor

Pointy Thing Joke

Informant is USC sophomore in the film program.

The subject is the “Pointy Thing” meme which has circulated through the USC student body this year. I ask informant to pull up his Facebook account and log into a group with about 15,000 members where students make and share memes with each other, usually about the school or the different majors.

Scrolling through a number of posts liked between 500 and 3,000 times, he arrives at one which depicts a man in a white T-shirt with one arm in the air. The president of the University is photoshopped in place the face, and “Pointy Things” are raining down across the image*.

“Pointy Things… they’re legendary. What can I say?” he tells me. “They just got put up this semester. They’re these pointy obstacles by all the USC gates. And they’re a waste of money because they don’t have a purpose, but we all got together to make fun of how ridiculous it is.”

The image has about 5K reactions in the Facebook group. I think it’s cool how all these USC students can come together in a group to make jokes with one another about the school they share. In a way, it’s kind of unifying.

“Yeah, they went all out. Pointy things in the Matrix was done, somebody 3D printed a pointy thing. Beating a dead horse at this point but people will like it if you make it” he tells me.

*The image was based on the popular Salt Bae meme, in which Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe is seen sprinkling salt in a fancy manner.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Dixie Cup Ness

Informant is a facebook page that regularly posts memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on 1990’s & 2000’s American youth culture.

Dixie Cup Ness

This particular post shows Ness, a character known from successful Nintendo game ‘Super Smash Bros Melee,’ with a retro Dixie cup print on his clothes. By combining the popular 2001 video game character with the distinct folk pattern of 2000’s school cafeteria cups, this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Flip Phone Accessories

Informant is a Facebook page that regularly posts memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on 1990’s & 2000’s American youth culture.

Flip Phone Accessories

This particular post shows an early 2000’s cell phone with an excessive amount of Pokemon accessories. Such accessories were a fad in the days of the flip-phone. The Pokemon attached to the phone are from the years 1996 to 2006, highlighting the target audience of this meme page. By combining the retro mobile phone with an excessive amount of once-trendy, Pokemon themed folk objects, this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia for people who grew up in this era.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Supernintendo Chalmers

Informant is a Facebook page that posts only memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on early 2000’s culture.

Supernintendo Chalmers

This particular post shows a Super Nintendo gaming console (1990), with a decal of Superintendent Chalmers of the popular TV show the Simpsons. The pun here is on the words ‘superindendent’ and ‘supernintendo.’ By combining the show known for its success in the 1990’s, with a 1990’s video game console , this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia for people who grew up in this era.

Digital
Humor

Scooby Doom

Informant is a Facebook page that regularly posts memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on 1990’s & 2000’s American youth culture.

Scooby Doom

This particular post shows an early a classic image of cartoon characters Scooby-Doo & Shaggy, superimposed over popular 1993 video game Doom. Scooby-Doo was popular for children growing up in the 1990’s who would eventually go on to play these early computer games. By combining the two popular 1990’s mediums of entertainment, this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia for people who grew up in this era. Further, the contrast in the subject matter of Doom (a violent shooter), and Scooby Doo (a children’s cartoon) is funny.

Digital

And his name is John Cena

Background

John Cena is a well-known WWE wrestler and Hollywood actor. In 2012, a prank call aired on a local radio station (“Z morning Zoo”) where the DJs repeatedly played a sound clip advertising John Cena’s wrestling career to a wife who was fed up with her husband’s obsession with WWE wrestling. Two years later (2014), the channel “RuinCommentsOfficial” uploaded a recording of the prank call to YouTube which gained over 20 million views. Another year after that (2015), the sound clip from the video resurfaced as a popular meme on on Vine, an internet platform where users can post 6 second video clips. Several other websites, such as Reddit and Tumblr, also contributed to this trend. Since then, hundreds of thousands of versions of the John Cena clip have appeared across the internet.

Context

The sound clip from the radio station prank call and a video of John Cena will pop up in the middle of a video which was seemingly about something unrelated to John Cena and WWE wrestling. There is usually no connection between the interrupted video and John Cena. Occasionally, the John Cena audio clip is mixed with a preexisting video meme.

Text

The prank call video that the meme originated from:

A compilation of John Cena vine:

Thoughts

Far more people participated in the spreading of the John Cena meme than actually watch WWE wrestling or are fans of John Cena, so there was a reason people were drawn to this folklore than actually had a personal investment in the subject matter. However, because of the way the meme originated, internet users were able to adapt the collective internet “inside joke” of the John Cena audio clip to fit into any other type of video that may interest them. Therefore, every person who came across the John Cena meme could contribute their own take on the joke and no one needed to even know who John Cena really was to join in on the laughter feel connected to the internet community.

Digital
Humor

Doge

 

 

Background

Doge is a slang term for the word “dog.” The most typical form of the meme contains a Shiba Inu dog staring at the camera with what looks like an approximation of a skeptical human face. Written over the image (usually in comic sans font) are sentences with intentionally poor grammar (Ex: very wow, much concern, so scare).

Context

The image is circulated on forums across the internet, most often on Tumblr, Reddit, and 4chan. There is no real specific time that is is supposed to be used, other than when the poster finds it to be humorous. However, after the image and internal monologue phrases went viral on the internet, companies, news broadcasters and politicians began to utilize them when trying to reach a younger demographic.

Text

7bc

Use in American politics

d37

850

Thoughts

This piece of folklore combines several things that are consistently popular on the internet: cute animals and bad grammar. There seems to be little reason for the initial circulation of the image other than that it made people laugh. However, the continued use of the meme seems, for many, to be a way to identify oneself as a member of the internet community. The use of the image or phrases by politicians and companies seems to be a somewhat misplaced attempt to connect with the “younger generation” who spends more time on the internet. These attempts are usually mocked in online forums, proving that the point of the meme, as folklore, is to connect a certain group of people (common internet users), and when it’s used outside of that context, it doesn’t carry the same weight.

Digital
Humor

Mmmm whatcha say

Background

In the second season of the television show The O.C. (airing in 2004), the final scene of the season finale depicts the shooting and death of one of the shows characters. The scene utilizes a slow-motion effect along with Imogen Heap’s folktronica song “Hide and Seek,” including the infamous line “mmmmm whatcha say.” Ten years later, in 2014, the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live did a parody of this scene, playing off of the humorous contrast between the character’s death and the more upbeat pop song. This SNL skit went viral. Following that, parodies of this parody began popping up across the internet and a new meme was born.

Context

Whenever there is a video of someone falling or getting hurt in a humorous way or a television/movie character dies, someone can edit the video into slow motion with Imogen Heap’s song playing over it. This is popular on many platforms across the internet including YouTube, Vine, Tumblr, Reddit, and 4chan.

Text

Scene from The O.C.

SNL Sketch

Compilation of use on the internet

Thoughts

It amazes me how many layers of group knowledge exist in this piece of folklore. The Imogen Heap song that is used in the episode of the O.C. and which is an integral part of the meme was, itself, a folktronica song, meaning that it synthesized existing folk music with popular music. When it was used in the episode, the O.C. was a fairly popular television show, but it was still obscure enough that it was strange for SNL to make a parody of it 10 years later. Furthermore, once the reworking of this parody became an internet sensation, more people were participating than who even watched the SNL sketch which was only somewhat viral by internet standards. Because of this, it appears that most people perform this piece of folklore don’t even know very much about where it came from. Instead, it seems their reason for performing it has more to do with the connection they feel to the internet community.

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