For whatever reason, probably because it’s the Internet and that’s what you do, people are always looking for ways to simultaneously get attention and publicly embarrass their poor, defenseless cats. First came the trend of ‘breading’ cats, putting their little faces through pieces of bread like a head through one of those kitschy county fair/Oktoberfest photo cutouts. Then came ‘bearding’ cats, bribing them to look up with a treat or whatever while you snapped a picture of them looking like a beard on your face. This was also kind of dumb.
And now there’s ‘boarding’ cats, which actually might be the cutest of the three memes, in which a cat is placed in a box (and cats love boxes, so they may actually be down with this one) and rolled very gently on a skateboard. In the first cat-‘boarding’ video, the cat shows basically no affect, as if he or she is totally cool with this situation and is just going to enjoy the ride. And shouldn’t life be like that? Shouldn’t we all go with the current of the winds and the lift of the wheels as if we, too, were cats in a box on a skateboard? Cat boarder, you may be on to something. Ride on, bro.
So, Cleveland man Charles Ramsey finds and releases kidnapped women who have been missing for years, calls 911, gives some refreshingly down-to-earth interviews about the entire surreal affair. His hero status, plus a stated affinity for ribs and salsa music, have made him a possible meme in the vein of Antoine Dodson’s “Bed Intruder” riff—but the internet just can’t nail it down, producing only some weak Auto-Tune remixes.
Perhaps it’s time for the world’s meme artists to stop assuming that any black dude getting interviewed on local news about a crime he helped to foil can be reduced to some catch phrase or in-joke. It’s just baffling that we’re trying to find a way to laugh about what is, in itself, a harrowing turn of events. Besides, the hectic first minute of his 911 call is where Ramsey really shines.
Right? And throughout this whole experience it seems that everyone, from the 911 operator down to the news correspondents, is a little condescending to him. Just not as condescending as a dude with a Tumblr who wants to turn him into viral content with some silly added hook.
But Ramsey is straight-up awesome as is. He’s bigger than memes. Just this once let’s celebrate the man himself—without using .gifs or Photoshop.
I can imagine the hearts (and other things) belonging to men across the internet swelling as I watch this video of Paul F. Tompkins directing Community and Mad Men‘s Alison Brie as she recreates popular internet memes. Is there a better, more beloved actress who could possibly do this sort of thing? If Tumblr has told me anything, it’s that the internet loves Alison Brie. And, apparently, Alison Brie loves the internet.
I still have not seen a Harlem Shake video. I’m usually not the kind to boast about deliberately avoiding a shared cultural experience, but I have no idea and, honestly, I’m OK with it. There has never been one shred of my existence that has ever wanted to participate in any sort of viral video sensation (or flash mob, which I feel like we’re bordering on here). That is why I do not understand the thought process that would sway, say, miners in Australia to take a break from their clinkin’ and their diggin’ to dance around in a cave. The only good thing to come out of this meme is that the fifteen people involved in the video were fired. How’s that for a resume killer? ("Why did you leave your last position?" "Because I danced on the job and filmed it for some stupid, stupid joke that no one will remember in ten years.")
In one of the more satisfying takedowns of memes that aren’t worth the bandwidth they’re using, filmmaker Chris McGuire went to 125th Street in Manhattan—the main artery of actual Harlem—to get residents’ perspective on the so-called "Harlem Shake" video phenomenon. And the reviews, to put it lightly, are not good.
First off, most of the folks interviewed have to be shown an example of a Harlem Shake video, and they react with horrified confusion from the get-go. Many of them note that no one involved in this trend is doing the real Harlem Shake, which originated in 1981 and has its roots in a much older Ethiopian dance.
The advice proffered runs the spectrum: get another hobby, get some rhythm, get some sense of shame, put some clothes on, don’t try this in Harlem itself, study your history and check your privileged white appropriation of a minority’s hard-won cultural capital. All of which is guaranteed to fall on the deaf ears of Matt & Kim fans everywhere. But at least people are talking?
Bravo is a strange network in terms of its reality programming, in that it can make some of the most elite people in their professions household names (Project Runway, Top Chef), and magically create careers for people who don’t actually have professions (e.g. The Real Housewives all suddenly getting cookbook deals, music deals, acting gigs, what have you). Its latest look into a profession, which you may have missed if you were still nursing an election hangover or bracing from the latest big storm or only tuned in for Top Chef: Seattle, is a look into the lucrative industry of… LOLCats.
LOLWork follows a group of employees at the Seattle-based Cheezburger Network, which began as LOLCat aggregator “I Can Haz Cheezburger” and has since become a rapidly-growing media empire, adding on sites like KnowYourMeme and FAILBlog to its many-armed operation. The protagonist of the series, as it were, is Ben Huh, the CEO of the Cheezburger Network, and includes a cast of his coworkers, including Content Supervisor Will, who “ensures every cat on the site receives the respect they deserve” and Huh’s wife Emily, who serves as Editor-In-Chief of the site, which we can assume involves editing cat captions for perfect grammatical incorrectness.
Watch the first episode, which premiered Wednesday night, below
So remember that time Bon Iver won a bunch of things at the Grammys and people really got off on making fun of tweens’ cultural blind spots so it took literally like five minutes for someone to make a "Who Is Bon Iver?" Tumblr and turn "WHO IS BONNY BEAR" into a short-lived meme? Well, last night, the Internet didn’t even wait for the debate to finish—didn’t even wait for Mitt Romney to finish his sentences, almost—before turning his comment about being brough "binders full of women" in his search for cabinet members into a Twitter account, a Tumblr and an ill-advised rap mix. This has probably set some sort of record for how fast a politician’s dumb comment has gone viral, and it’s probably already dead by now, but hey at least now people are sort of talking about a really important issue (equality in the workplace) and about the election instead of that dude who free-fell from space.
As with any meme, some variations have actually been quite funny; others, not so much. The Twitter account features some pretty big eye-rollers ("Obama, imma let you finish, but I’m one of the best binders of ALL TIME. #bindersfullofwomen."); elsewhere there are some tired-ass Mormon jokes and Honey Boo-Boo references, and Patton Oswalt tweeted that as a "Brooklyn misogynist," he has "Moleskines full of women." A number of Lisa Frank jokes have appeared because the ’90s were a thing, you guys, although the Lisa Frank binder with the "Trap Her Keep Her" pun, for all intents and purposes, is pretty good. Perhaps most impressive in its own right is this work from painter Dan Lacey, who actually took the time to paint Romney with a binder full of women, although the whole thing is a little creepy.
And Tumblr being Tumblr, it took even less time for someone to make the connection between "binders full of women" and the "burn book" from Mean Girls. We can only imagine what a Romney burn book would look like: "’Senator Olympia Snowe… made out with a hot dog?!’ Oh, come on, it was ONE TIME!"
If there’s one thing Americans love, it’s gawking at heavily produced, heavily exploited versions of the lives of people that are different from our own. Although plenty of networks have found their niches in this brave new world, you’ve gotta hand it to TLC for its roster, featuring extreme couponers, extremely fecund Rick Santorum supporters and Gosselins. And now, the network formerly known as “The Learning Channel” is giving one of its youngest characters her own show.
Alana, the mini-beauty queen from Toddlers and Tiaras more commonly known as “Honey Boo-Boo Child,” became a viral sensation thanks to her sound bites and penchant for “Go-Go Juice” (a concoction of Mountain Dew and Red Bull to give her energy during the pageants). Alana and her family, including “Coupon Queen” mother June, will be featured in a new show, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, which premieres in August with a six-episode season. The network, according to Deadline, describes the show as “an inside look into Alana’s world where the 6-year-old pageant sensation proves that she is more than just a Go-Go Juice-drinking beauty queen. When she’s not chasing after crowns, Alana’s with her family in rural Georgia doing what her family does best: four-wheeling through mud pits and picking up road kill for the family cookout.”
If you listen closely, you can already hear fingers on keyboards all over the country, preparing to write their indignant letters to entertainment and celebrity magazines offering disapproving clucks or fierce defenses. Whether you’ve spent the last three months using “A dollar make me holler, honey boo-boo!” on anyone who will listen (probably not very many people at this point, buddy) or find the whole thing icky and exploitative, it’s gonna be one crazy summer and we should all just probably go outside instead. How’s that sound?