AK: Remember Pedo-bear from the 2000s?
YJ: Yeah what about it?
AK: You don’t really see much of him these days right?
YJ: Yeah not even the Chris Hansen memes survived
AK: Have you seen the Finnish version of it?
YJ: The what?
AK: Finland mutated Pedo-Bear into something completely random, but it’s still a bear or something
YJ: What for?
AK: I think they wanted to gatekeep and make fun of new people on their image board sites, I think he’s called Spurdo
YJ: Does it work? I’m not sure really how to describe it, like what sort of posts do you even attach the image to? How does gatekeeping with a character even work?
AK: It’s like stylized broken english but you replace the hard-sounding consonants with lots of G’s and D’s. So the most common example would be “f*ck being” turned into the more soft sounding “fug”.
Take any phrase, long quote, or even a song and start making edits for it. It’s like an overly specific cultural mutation of mad libs. You can basically apply it to anything you want.
The informant, AK, is longtime friend of mine who I bonded with over videogames and other entertainment mediums. He is well versed in image board culture after having spent over a decade on multiple forums when the internet was starting to burgeon out into a more curated environment. Spurdo to AK is one of his favorites for being absolutely nonsensical and how it can universally applied to franchises and jokes he already enjoys.
When memes were on the table for the project, I pondered with my friend over which were the ones that were most relevant to our own experiences and these were the results of our brainstorming.
The Spurdo meme is one of the more esoteric and absurdist memes to come out of early image board culture and it provides a digital version of the historic-geographic method of studying how folklore travels and Spurdo has mutated no less than three times in its lifespan across different internet environments. The original Finnish mutation of pedo-bear used by the Finnish has since been carried over to the western “American” context and been turned into either a commercial retail worker, a stereotypical fat American addicted to fast food, or a highly conservative-nationalistic spokesperson for gun violence. The Finnish context remains as it is but has become adopted by the people who served in the military over their shared experiences. Somewhere in between, Spurdo further mutates from absurdity into the abstract, losing its legs and becoming what is known as a “Gondola”. Instead of speaking the way it usually does, it doesn’t speak at all and only observes its surroundings peacefully, and this descriptor has made it photoshopped in many pieces of classic artwork in the background simply observing its surroundings.