If you’re reading this article, you will undoubtedly fall into one of two categories: either you will look at the poster for the second annual HallowMEME party (photos from the inaugural HallowMEME here) in Brooklyn and laugh hysterically, or you will sit there with a quizzical expression and wonder aloud what links all those strange featured figures together.
If you fall in to the second, we’ve got some ‘splainin to do.
A meme is a single image or concept – essentially a visual joke – that spreads across the internet, evolving as it gets posted and reposted. There is no real characteristic to accurately predict which memes will be successful; the Internet chooses according to whim and then carries said joke into the stratosphere.
It may be amusing to think of the Internet as a shadow entity of devious machinations, but that description more or less describes the real breeding ground for these memes: the dark corner of the Internet known as 4chan.
4chan was founded by Internet innovator Christ ‘moot’ Poole in October 2003, though he has a notoriously hands-off approach to the site, and it has grown by infamy.
4chan is a collection of imageboards (threads of user image exchanges), and Poole’s preference for extremely low regulation has encouraged a freedom to produce the ridiculous and the profane. It is in this ruthlessly Darwinian cultural Wild West that memes are born and fight for LoLs.
So many memes have been born since 4chan’s founding that a website sprung up to meet the need for meme culling and categorization; this meme Wild Animal Park is named Know Your Meme.
And so we come full circle, as Know Your Meme partners with Urlesque to host the second annual HallowMEME party. Unfortunately, it’s on the other side of the country, or Without A Net would be there in full force to cover this leak of the Internet into “meatspace” (aka IRL, aka “reality”).
For the lucky locals visiting NYC for the holiday, here's a Know Your Meme-approved site for creating your own Halloween meme costumes. For those of you who likewise cannot trek 3,000 miles to attend the most public celebration of inside jokes, we have a little consolation prize: a smattering of memes from the HallowMEME poster. Enjoy, and happy HallowMEME!
Leftmost (running figure): Prancing Cera - Michael Cera jumping between boxes, running away from things.
Left, left of Sad Keanu (grinning mask): (Expletive) Magnets, How Do They Work? - Rapper duo Insane Clown Posse came under intense scrutiny when they simultaneously came out as radical Christians after two decades of violent rap and released a song called 'Miracles,' in which they asked the meme-title question.
Top, next to balloons (seated figure): Sad Keanu - an uncharacteristically sad Keanu on a bench.
Top, just right of Sad Keanu (dog): Cool Dog - a Sheba Inu apparently leaning on a doghouse.
Rightmost (cat): Surprised Cat: On October 13, 2009, a Youtube user posted a video of tickling her cat, and when she stopped, the cat splayed its paws in surprise. The Internet has not recovered from the cute.
Midright, just left of Cat (tilted head): Strutting Leo - Leonardo DiCaprio being dandy.
Midright, just left of Strutting Leo (red bandana): Antoine Dodson/Bed Intruder - after being interviewed following an invasion of his home and attempted assault on his sister by an unknown assailant, Dodson's recorded testimony was remixed and released as an iTunes single by Autotune the News.
Dead center (solid white with black stripe eyes): Tuzki - a white unamused rabbit appearing often in emotions and popular in Chinese forums.
Bottom left (man with hands in air, possibly raising roof): Donald McDonald/Ran Ran Ru - a series of MAD video remixes of Japanese commercials starring McDonald's mascot Ronald McDonald (known in Japan as Donald McDonald); 'ran ran ru' is a gimmicky expression he uses along with ridiculous hand gestures.
There are other memes, intrepid Internet aficionados. Good night, and good luck.