Art & Culture

Top Meme Moments of the Year

Looking back at the sea of muddled viral moments that was 2019, it’s a year that’s most accurately recorded via memes.

Little epitomises our current moment quite like memes. The definition of recycled culture, they’re just the same jokes repurposed and recirculated via cut-and-paste formats. However, they allow for a sense of chaotic, lo-fi humour to flourish in a way that feels kind of utopian, if we’re being honest.

Looking back at the sea of muddled viral moments that was 2019, it’s a year that’s perhaps most accurately recorded via memes — which is why we’re delivering you a definitive list of the top meme moments of the year. 

I’m Baby

Adulthood? In this economy? 

This year, the political shit-storm and impending doom got too much. Realising that there was only so much we could do to fix our broken society, we decided we’d much rather abnegate all responsibility. The “im baby” phenomenon gave a face (belonging to Nintendo’s Kirby) to this collective rejection of accountability.

Area 51

In a rare instance of Facebook still being relevant, the “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” FB event inspired a major online moment in 2019. With 3.5 million people RSVP’ing to the proposed event, it became the talk of the digisphere; spawning countless memes and inspiring a Lil Nas X video. Proving that sometimes URL doesn’t translate to IRL, only 134 people showed up when the day of the raid rolled around. Unsurprisingly, the US Government could stop them all.

Sorry to This Man

In a serious #content moment, American actress Keke Palmer inadvertently spawned a meme  during a video interview with Vanity Fair. When asked to identify US Vice President Dick Cheney from a photograph, she replied with; “I don’t know who this man is. I mean, he could be walking down the street, I wouldn’t. Sorry to this man.” What ensued was a series of memes using the “sorry to this man” tag to sneer at exes and a whole host of other shitty men. In the iconic words of Lauren Conrad; ” “I want to forgive you and I want to forget you.”

I’m gonna tell my kids

Emerging seemingly out of nowhere, the “I’m gonna tell my kids” format places an image of a pop cultural figure alongside a caption referring to another pop cultural figure. The humour from the format derives from however ridiculous or iconoclastic the comparison is; think Jonathan Van Ness being compared to Jesus or Destiny’s Child album art likened to Mount Rushmore.

The biggest takeaway from “I’m gonna tell my kids” was its faint scent of hope. Even if we’re collectively crushed by eco-anxiety, the meme proves that we *do* have some vague belief that there will be another generation after Gen Z.

OK boomer

The seemingly innocuous “OK boomer” epithet expresses Gen Z’s fatigue at older generations’ constant criticism and right-leaning politics. Unexpectedly, it would go onto spark an intergenerational Internet war. Springing up on TikTok, it was spoken in New Zealand Parliament and inspired plenty of merch as well as countless think pieces (read ours here). If anything proves the power of memes, it’s OK boomer.

Rise and Shine

When a Youtube tour of Kylie Jenner’s office caught a moment of the makeup mogul/ reality tv star sining “riiiise and shiiiiine” to her daughter, it was taken up by the teens of TikTok with alarming speed. As celebs like Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande put their own spin on the viral moment,  the TikTok hashtag generated over a billion views. In true Jenner-Kardashian fashion, Jenner even cashed in on the online hype with a line of merch. How very 2019.

Baby yoda

Rounding off what’s been a tough year for everyone, Baby Yoda appeared at the beginning of December 2019 to provide a bit of comic relief. Popping up in the Disney + Star Wars series “The Mandalorian”, the wrinkled ball of cuteness became one of the most influential figures of the year. Much like “im baby” the Baby Yoda craze expresses our desire to return to an age before things got so serious.

27 December 2019