The Evolution Of Memes is the five hundred and sixty-second video to be uploaded by SMG4.
This video was aired on March 12, 2020.
Time to put my Ph.D. in memes to good use. Here's a video essay on memes, hope you learn a thing or two 🤠.
Luke starts off by saying he wants to try a little activity with the audience. He tells us to direct our attention to a meme, which is a scene from the movie Finding Nemo, where instead of a fish screaming, the sound is replaced with the iPhone alarm sound. He asks the audience if they found it funny, but then he immediately says it doesn't matter because 130k+ other people did. He then shows us another meme of just a red ball that makes a bounce sound, that got 80k+ likes, and he says that was it, that's the meme. He says its very interesting to follow the progression of memes over the years. He says going from the very early memes like "Delicious food, y u no healthy" to just "E". He says the memes are vastly different, but they both share the core essence of what a meme achieves. Luke says that in today's society, memes are everyone, meaning you cannot escape it. He says he does years of research of watching memes progress, which what he really means is that he just watched memes on his couch with Kevin Lerdwichagul on his second channel, Hobo Bros. He says that he just wants to share his analysis of how he think memes have evolved over time, and how important they've become. Before we begin, he asks the important question:
- What is a meme?
He questions whether it is an image, an icon, or PewDiePie, and his response is well sorta. He then gives the true answer to the question, which is like an idea or behavior that is spread from person to person. He says, with the Wii Channel music in the background, that a meme carries cultural meaning or symbolism that provokes a particular response from individuals. He then dumbs it down for people who have no idea what that means. He says that if you post an image, like a ROBLOX character, a lot of people will think the same thing, and most comments are going to look similar. He then goes through another example, and shows a clip of someone falling down, saying that I know at least one of you thought about typing the letter "F". He says that memes all stand for something we find relatable like an inside joke or experience we had, which he shows a relatable meme with someone screaming "Oh wow, that is relatable." He reinstates this by saying that if you send an "F" comment, everyone will know exactly what you mean. He says that memes in modern times are ways of sharing a funny idea without even needing to talk to each other. He now says he will be categorizing memes into three different categories, which are the Early Era (<2010's), the Creation Era (2010 - 2014), and the Mainstream Era (2015–Present).
- Early Era (<2010's)
Luke describes these memes as pretty innocent and silly, but then says only most of them, meaning that some of them are not that innocent and/or silly. These memes consisted of viral images or videos being circulated to you, your friends, your family, and even your local RuneScape friend group. One of his examples of this is that your friends would send you a video of a cat playing a keyboard over MSN (Messenger), so you would like it and then send it to some more friends. Another example he gives is if your friend sends you something that was super obvious, like "The sky is blue," you would reply with the meme O RLY? He responds to this saying back then, memes were more personal; it was inside jokes between mates or small online communities. He says that because Twitter had just started back in 2006, and Youtube in 2005, memes were just beginning to be injected into people's bloodstreams. He says that he can't go through every meme or else the video would be way too long, so he shares his two favorite viral memes back in the day, which were numa numa and Leeroy Jenkins. He says that before you knew it, everyone was strangling each other because they got rick rolled by their friends. He says as we approach the 2010's, memes were just beginning to get popular, but they didn't have that iconic image attached to it.
- Creation Era (2010 - 2014)
Luke says that in the creation era, this is where memes truly begin to form an identity on the internet, saying that most people get nostalgic when they see these old memes from this era. He says that humor started to become punchlines associated with the iconic images and this started defining are for more and more people. He says that every single one of these memes have something that the last era didn't, which was user creation. What he means by this is that people began to put there own creative twists on already existing memes. The early era only had viral images you could share or send, but now there are so many different variations of one meme were being made by everyone. He says that people were mashing songs together with videos editing really random stuff over top of them, which he says was a sign for what was coming. He says that Youtube poops and MLG memes take things a step further and express what true art means. Memes were sprouting left and right, and it was all our fault, and so the direction of memes was becoming clear; user generated content. He says the type of memes in this era were funny punchlines, epic game memes, and cute cat pictures. He asks questions that would be from the audience, and his reply is that the one thing you can blame for the change in humor in the creation era is only because of the mainstream era.
- Mainstream Era (2015–Present)
During this time, he says that memes began to get seriously popular on mainstream media. He makes a reference to the Youtube Rewind series, where he says that they are just celebrating the memes that had happened that year. During this time, more and more people began to voice their own opinions on the internet and show the bitterness towards things. This caused memes themselves to become increasingly software and cynical, which caused relatable memes to skyrocket in popularity. He makes the rhetorical question, what are relatable memes, which he answers by saying that these memes describe a situation with a perfect reaction image that you feel on a spiritual (he accidentally said soul but changed it while editing) level. He says that social media sites like Twitter and Instagram started to become flooded with these relatable memes. These memes were becoming accessible to almost every single person, and now it was all about how relatable can you get. He says that at the same time, the rise of cynicism on the Internet has caused the humor to shift focus heavily on two things. Number one, he says, is mockery and parody. The examples he puts for this are "To be fair you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty. The humor is extremely subtle, and without a gr-," "This is so sad, Alexa play Despacito," and finally, "Is this loss?" He says that these are only some of the memes that mocks and parodies communities, events, or individuals. He says that these memes can be pretty clever, or pretty surreal. He says that the internet loves it. For number two, the biggest change in his opinion is obscurity. He says that the humor of the Internet has evolved so much that we only find humor in stuff that is completely stupid and insane. He asks another rhetorical question of, how did we get to this point, and he answers by saying its called post-irony, which is when your exposed to something for so long, you don't know if you're laughing at it ironically, or genuinely. He makes and shows a poorly drawn graph showing how over time, memes have become weirder and weirder to prove is point. He says that the obscurity gets a little bit higher every year, which he says is what has become standard to us. We see something really obscure and and we're like, hm, okay. He then shows weird memes that make people watching it not even flinch, but older people like parents or grandparents would be a bit confused. He then goes on to say that it actually means nothing, and that it meaning nothing is the pure art of it. He says that now, memes have become so out of context and so ridiculously stupid, that it's become hilarious to people. He says that the joke is that we're laughing at how low our humor has become, which he says is why the meme he showed at the beginning is pretty funny to people.
He says that most memes today fold into at least one of the categories he talked about, which are relatability, obscurity, mockery, and parody. As a result of all this crap that's going on, the death and spawn rate of these memes have increased so much over the years. He says that if memes were an inside joke, mainstream media would be that one guy that repeats it so many times that it gets old and you don't want to hear it anymore. He says that if you came home one day and your parents were watching a new meme, like penis music, it would be really awkward. He says that you can't even think of saying any old meme unironically or else the Internet will slaughter you, metaphorically. He says that the Internet is sprouting so much new crap at an alarming rate that we just have to move on to the next meme immediately. He then admits that all the memes he has mentioned in the video he really likes; they were weird at first, but he has come to accept and embrace them. All in all, he says that memes have had a huge role in shaping the culture we know today. He says that the word meme has changed so much that anything could be a meme at this rate. He says that everywhere you go, or whoever you talk to, they either quote a meme or use reaction gifs. He says that memes help us express what we feel and they bring us together. He says that people come together and celebrate meme rewinds together, and that it is a thing that he looks forward to, and he says that he's sure that the viewer looks forward to meme rewinds as well. He now says the Youtube comments is just filled up with people making old memes out of timestamps in the videos. He says that he even goes onto his own Reddit and people make memes about his own videos as well. He then says how people are even meming serious real life events; he says he doesn't know if that's a part of coping or if everything is just a meme to everyone nowadays, which he says is just how society is. He then complains how their are memes in mainstream movies now too.
To end things off, he gives the best example of a meme that has shown how important meme culture has become. This meme is Sans, and he says that Sans has been in so many different memes that it's not funny. He says that every single component of this character has been turned into a meme, his jacket, his glowing eye, his theme, his catchphrases, just being a skeleton in general. He says that meme culture made this character well-renowned, and he says what proves that is different places where Sans has been, like in Smash, wrestling, on different T-shirts, and that he is everywhere. He ends it off by saying that is the power of meme culture; he says we've yelled so loud that even real life is reacting to it. His final point he says is a message to Nintendo saying to put Sans as a playable character rather than as only a Mii fighter, and he yells that he wants Sans to be his own slot in the game. The video ends off with a pixelated dancing Mario and a "Thanks for watching!" on the top of the screen.