Informant LO is an 18 year-old USC freshman from New York City, New York.
LO: “What’s green and has wheels?”
LO: “Grass. I lied about the wheels.”
The informant heard this joke while watching a Twitch streamer by the name of SaltyPhish, and often spams the joke to friends.
LO: “I guess it’s funny because it’s just stupid. Whenever you ask a question you’re supposed to give the truth and this plays off that and it’s something completely unexpected which is a lot of my humor. It doesn’t make the joke at the expense of anyone. It’s an easy answer, technically — anything could fit — but the answer is grass because that’s one of the first things you think of when you say green.”
This joke operates on multiple levels that reveal how folklore evolved with the dawn of the internet. First, LO learned of the joke from watching Twitch, a live streaming website where content creators produce live video content, which is now a popular avenue for people — particularly in Generation Z and younger — to receive content. The fact that LO learned of this joke reflects how he, and others, have the ability to obtain and spread folklore easily on the internet. Since the premodern era, where folklore was spread person-to-person, culture slowly became concentrated into fewer hands after the introduction of the Gutenberg printing press in c. 1440 CE and large-scale businesses produced content which was unidirectionally transferred to consumers. In the postmodern era following c. 2000, this producer-consumer relationship shifted back into a person-to-person spread of culture as the internet democratized avenues for producing and sharing content. Twitch, though a means for one producer to reach a mass of consumers, is a more democratized platform than the publishing houses of the modern era for creators to share culture. LO learned the joke from Twitch, and subsequently uses the resources of the postmodern internet era to “spam” his friends with the joke, a technique of rapidly resending the same message which is popular in the postmodern era as an annoying joke in its own right. LO’s preference of this inoffensive joke reflects a growing sentiment amongst Americans, particularly in Generation Z and younger, to avoid blazon populaire and other jokes which may offend certain groups. This is reflected in trends like cancel culture where such jokes and behavior are punished through mass boycott of popular creators and media.