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The meme conundrum

I’m sure a lot of people have heard of memes. You might have even seen one without realising it was a meme. In case you’re still slightly unsure about what one is, a meme is usually a photo with a caption – sometimes funny, sometimes outrageous, but almost always apt. Sometimes (only sometimes) memes could be very short videos as well.

Memes range widely in subject matter and can tackle social situations, sports, politics or any topic really in a pithy way. You could think of memes as a modern social commentary for the social media age. Right now, for example, you’ll be seeing a lot of memes about the demonetisation drive. Some are quite deep and revealing of human nature. But they’re most often light, funny pieces of content that are easy to share with people on Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp, and have a quick chuckle at, while nodding along in empathy and agreement (mostly).

A quick search for memes will give you a whole load of examples and hopefully some laughs as well. But to make life easier here are some of the top memes of all time…

Success Kid is really, really famous. It all started in 2007 when mum Laney Griner took a photo of her 11-month-old son Sammy on the beach. And the rest, as they say is, history.

‘Bad Luck Brian’ is another globally famous meme based on a real person. Kyle Craven decided to take a funny photo for his high school yearbook. He bought a used sweater, made a funny face and when his friend posted the photo online in 2012, it was an instant viral hit.

The ‘Y U No’ guy is possibly the most famous fictional meme. He got his start in a Japanese manga, and in 2009, when it was translated into English, someone scanned his expression and posted it on the Internet. You know you’re seeing the Y U No guy when the meme always ends with a ‘Y U no’ sentence.

Memes are also regularly mined from films, TV shows and music videos. Popular shows and cult films provide a particularly rich seam because of the immediate recognition they provide. One example is Boromir’s (Sean Bean), now unforgettable, line from The Lord of the Rings: “One does not simply walk into Mordor”. The other, from Game of Thrones, and arguably the fastest-spreading meme of all time, is simply Hodor.

We have our own share of very funny home-grown memes in India as well. Perhaps, the best-known are parent memes, with the Indian father being my favourite. But celebrities, politicians, cows and the quintessential “aunty” all provide ongoing fodder.

If you didn’t know about memes before, or were unsure who to ask, I hope this short guide has helped fill you in. If you haven’t seen them already, definitely look for the Indian father memes online. I guarantee they will give you a good laugh.


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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 8:24:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/The-meme-conundrum/article16722200.ece

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