Tag Archives: Memes

Old School Object Labeling: Tony Kornheiser

Main Performance:

Image Labeling Memes have become a tremendous format across multiple social media sites. You see the things everywhere with laughably bad photoshops, other people’s faces crudely cut and pasted over other familiar formats, the works. Its relative simplicity has proliferated its usage like wildfire on twitter and other platforms for mass sharing but the format that seems so rudimentary had a really specific start to it all.

Enter Tony Kornheiser, famous American TV sportscaster whose coincidentally inquisitive facial expression placed above some nicely timed captions over the word “Why” captured a picture that would spawn millions of derivatives of a person’s or fictional character’s facial expression placed above photoshopped captions, often in recognizable fonts native to the TV. show, videogame, or comic.


The informant BL is one of my longest known friends who has also been around since the start of the internet’s massive growth and has inevitably taken part of the outburst of early memes and digital culture spawning from forums and image boards.


When memes were on the table for the project, I pondered with my friends over which were the ones that were most relevant to our own experiences and these were the results of our brainstorming.

My Thoughts:

Image Macros and Reaction Images are an enormous part online culture that has become rather inseparable to the posting experience. Beyond words, images capture emotions and resonate with a particular emotion to a feeling that others may recognize from knowing where the image originates from, creating layers upon layers of in-jokes and understanding that can become a culture all on its own. Kornheiser represents one of the originals that metaphorically birthed the image macro posting culture we have today and I have particular fondness for it as making one has slightly more effort put into than hap-haphazardly photoshopping people’s badly cut out faces onto unrelated pictures. These derivatives can also be taken to the extreme with entire sentences or songs with its text being cut and pasted to provide the necessary effect the given creator wants to convey in the parody.

A rather extensive example of the cut and paste dialogue

Acquire Proficiency: The attitude of “Git Gud”

Main Performance:

In 2009 a videogame called Demon’s Souls was released on the Playstation 3 and its relatively unforgiving difficulty made it a surprise hit with the gaming community worldwide. A sequel was promptly made in 2011, Dark Souls, and it launched the “Souls” series’ popularity skyrocketing, with the game’s difficulty being put front and center for the masses to challenge themselves against the experience. The series still continues to this day, the latest release being Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in 2019 which went on to win Game of the Year despite many complaints about it being “too hard”.

The important stuff begins here, as difficulty is apparently relative and many people playing these games definitely struggled, but with different parts. Certain boss fights were easy to some, impossible for others, and the differences in these opinions led to many arguments and name-calling online, jeering others for their apparent lack of skill. What was for sure though was that the game was definitely beatable and not impossible as many newcomers to the series would claim. To trivialize entire paragraphs of complaints online, a phrase would become adopted to shut down these walls of text with two simple words: “Git Gud”. A bastardized spelling of “Get Good”, it has become a popular and incredibly simple, rather dismissive command to simply become better at the game, lest they be given another insulting phrase such as “mad because bad”.


The informant, AK, is longtime friend of mine who I bonded with over videogames and other entertainment mediums. He is also incredibly well versed with deck-building in trading card games and particularly loves to be “annoying” type of player who is much more focused on entertaining himself than worrying about winning or losing. The Git Gud phrase as leaked into many other skill-based mediums be it card games, traditional video games, and any other competitive activity requiring strategy and good timing.


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.

My Thoughts:

The meme is very personal to me and my friend as these games in particular have been becoming less and less common. Difficulty in games is a point that I am heavily opinionated on and I firmly stand on the side that difficulty is an inherent game design choice and part of an experience is overcoming the obstacle and the fun comes from the satisfaction of beating it. While there are some merits to the arguments about unfair design or arbitrary difficulty, there definitely should be more scrutiny under which these sweeping generalizations are made for a given title. I am particularly against the wave of “casualization” that hopes to give accessibility for the sake of catering to the widest audience possible by watering down mechanics and difficulty for the sake of easier digestion. Dedication and investment into self-improvement, even digitally, should not be compromised or derided. While the phrase itself is dismissive, it mostly applies to those who have given up too quickly and are quicker to judge a game’s difficulty as a flaw on the game’s design than any personal shortcoming of their own.

Memes of the Previous Generation: Spurdo

Main Performance:

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.

My Thoughts:

An example of Practical Jokes and liminal experiences showcased in Example 4 where those in the In-Group get to mess around with the new recruits who have yet to go through the same bonding experience.

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.

Where’s Gondola?

Gamer Culture: Pwned

Context: When you’re playing competitive online games, one of the most important things to learn is how to most effectively show off to the enemy. You won’t always have the time to curse them out or otherwise eloquently explain your skill to them. For this reason, different kinds of slang have been adapted to meet the needs of competitive gamers. From this, we get the gamer slang “pwn.”

Main Piece: To “pwn” someone is to, essentially, annihilate them, destroy them, or otherwise completely defeat them when it wasn’t even close. Similar slang would be “curb-stomping” or “bitch slapping.” The gist is that gamers need more ways to tell people how bad they were beaten as a part of the psychological warfare of gaming. If somebody gets angry, or “tilts,” they’ll play worse, and if they’re angry enough, they might even quit! Pwning became the go-to affirmation of dominance in gaming lobbies for much of the mid-2000s because of both its simplicity and its meme status. Informant GG shares his account of his origins in Counter Strike, a competitive first person shooter game. 


GG: I first heard [pwned] (pronounced p-owned) in 2003; I was playing Counter Strike with my buddies, and one of them just goes “pwned!” and I said “what?” and he said “pistol owned!… so owned is like to dominate someone or to make someone your bitch using your skill, and pistol is like how we whipped out the pistol and shot a guy…” I don’t know the exact origins of it, but I’ve seen it everywhere from YouTube to memes, it’s all over the place.

Example of a meme using the term “pwned”, from KnowYourMeme.com

Thoughts: In gaming culture, defeating a rival is a moment of great pride that one may be too excited to put into eloquent words. It is for this reason that I believe “pwn” arose from a need to accurately describe the feeling of dominance over an opponent, regardless of it’s roots as either a keystroke error (because p is next to o on the QWERTY keyboard) or as a combination of pistol and own. From GG’s perspective it certainly makes sense that killing an opponent with your pistol, a relatively weak weapon compared to rifles and machine guns, would warrant pwning, but the folklore aspect of pwning is more through why people used it and less of how they began to use it. In the mid-2000s, pwned became apart of internet meme culture because of its applicability to other scenarios. Anytime that something goes catastrophically wrong for someone, they’ve been pwned (See Know Your Meme). Using the term pwn also includes you in apart of the culture of the internet. Therefore, I believe that people used pwned primarily because of its attached feelings of dominance as well as its inclusion in internet culture. 

Annotation: Pwned photo from Know Your Meme https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/owned-pwned

Quarantine and Chill Meme

The Main Piece:

Ya so there’s Netflix and Chill which is the big basic term that went around for so long about hooking up and just hook up culture. And there’s always like a new thing with that, with Netflix and Chill, like when Disney Plus came out it turned into Disney Plus and thrust and then during quarantine it became quarantine and chill. And, I don’t remember how it originated, but I remembered just seeing like all the memes and stuff. I think the first one I saw was on Twitter. This one basketball player messaged this model “wyd” and then she responded and quoted it with “quarantine and chill?” I think that’s the first place I saw it. And then from there there’s just like all these memes about it. There’s this one meme going around about this girl and this guy and it just became popular during quarantine where this guy will text this girl and then she’ll say something back. And then, there’s a lot now that don’t have to do with quarantine, but there were a lot that had to do with quarantine . Just stupid stuff like that. 

Background: My informant is a Junior in college. She is also a major in communications and prides herself on being well connected and up to date with what’s happening online. Here she expands on some of the Covid-19 memes and sayings that have taken over social media and pop culture during this time.

Context: This conversation was happening casually at night with the group I’m quarantining with. We had just spent a good hour engrossed in our phones, consuming said content, when we decided to start sharing with each other. I asked this individual what her take was on certain memes of our time and she shared what she felt to be one of the more prominent examples.

My thoughts: It’s important to not gloss over what my informant said in terms of content changing. She stated that quarantine and chill has evolved from Netflix and Chill, but it has also involved from there, and I believe that’s super important. The idea that the masses are taking their quarantine inspired memes, and then revamping them once again to fit other relatable areas of life. In this specific pandemic, such a concept feels like a nod to what the world was like just months ago, as well as a longing for a restoration of that period. Once again, during this time people are finding creative ways to express all their emotions including lust, boredom, and fear through memes that in some way have become one of our strongest ways to stay in touch while on lockdown.