One of the lasting cultural legacies of the 2010s will undoubtedly be the mainstream popularization of the meme — and as the resident meme historian of The Daily Tar Heel, I have identified some of the best memes that emerged over the past decade.
CallMeCarson Crying Meme
I do not understand why every time I see this meme I almost burst out laughing, and yet, that might be the beauty of it.
The juxtaposition of the image is ridiculous: a person comically distraught, presumably at his aggressor, which is an action figure of Joe Swanson from “Family Guy” in the background wielding a baseball bat.
The person pictured in the meme is streamer CallMeCarson reacting to his character falling into an unexpected trap in Minecraft — and I think his sincere reaction to the unfairness, the random cruelty of life, is what's powerful about this meme.
In November 2012, a user of the Urban Dictionary submitted an entry for “Brogre” which was defined as someone who was obsessed with the Shrek franchise.
The Shrek fanaticism that erupted on the internet in the early 2010s spawned interesting templates for memes, but also monstrosities like “Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life.”
Like most things in life, though, you have to take the good with the bad, which means not letting a few ogres ruin a perfectly good swamp.
The television show “SpongeBob” was a goldmine for meme templates ranging from “Caveman SpongeBob” which peaked in 2016 to “Mocking SpongeBob” which appeared in 2017 and still remains popular today.
One of the most impressive qualities of SpongeBob memes is their sheer variety over the decade, which included depictions of side characters such as Mr. Krabs looking confused and Patrick Star making a mischievous smile.
The sheer diversity of SpongeBob memes that have made themselves popular and relevant earned them a spot on this list.
Seeing Kermit memes become popular is like seeing your old friend that you used to talk to become successful — you’re not quite sure why it is happening, but you’re happy for them nonetheless.
Kermit memes, like SpongeBob memes, represent a surprisingly wide range of emotion, from an evil Kermit hiding in the shadows to a smug gossipy Kermit drinking tea.
Whatever your opinion is on the green frog, Kermit memes show that even if “The Muppet Show” isn’t airing, our favorite amphibian still is relevant and a mainstay of popular culture.
“OK Boomer” may be a relatively recent meme, but that doesn’t make it any less impactful.
This was emphasized to me when my TA, asked to help close a powerpoint presentation after watching my professor struggle, responded with “OK Boomer.”
The meme has rapidly become popular as a dismissive and concise phrase targeted at stereotypes common to the baby boomer generation — and also as a statement to throw at your friends when they go to sleep at 11 p.m. or search “Google” on Google.
Memes are something everyone can share in: whether you are laughing at a picture of sarcastic SpongeBob or crying alongside CallMeCarson, they truly span the range of the human experience.
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