A Guide To 2011’s Best Memes

By: Brennan Carley, Taylor Cavallo, & Dan Siering

Of all the Internet fads of 2011, nothing left viewers laughing quite as hard as the seemingly simple meme. These cartoonish caricatures provided some of the funniest, most realistic social commentaries in the world of entertainment. Inside, find eight of the year’s most insightful and applicable examples.

Musically Oblivious Eighth Grader

Have you ever had an awkward moment when in mentioning a band you like, someone misinterprets the group’s name for something totally different? This meme uses a photo of a popular Tumblr user, Emileina, and incorporates a quote that exposes the girl’s blatantly misinformed opinions about bands like Slightly Stoopid, The Shins, and Daft Punk. Though the meme’s creator has since ceased work on “Musically Oblivious Eighth Grader,” countless other web users have picked up the slack. Favorites include such gems as “Marilyn Manson? Never heard of her,” and “Kanye West? Isn’t that south of Florida?”

College Freshman

While his comments might slightly offend a fourth of our student body, the College Freshman meme illustrates both the pure naivety and the unfounded hubris that we all acquired during our first year on campus. He is faced with a whole slough of problems that did not exist back when he was living at home with mom and dad. Whether he eats dinner is determined by the functionality of his microwave. On the other hand, the College Freshman is also very easily amused. Guys, did you just hear that?! The Professor said a dirty word!


Perhaps the most insightful meme, Philosoraptor (the intellectual cousin of the more commonly known velociraptor) provides food for thought consisting of metaphysical insights and deep, burning questions that leave a reader scratching his head. Instead of spitting poison into the eyes of a bystander a la Jurassic Park, this raptor spits existential paradoxes. Perhaps distasteful or slightly offensive at times, the cartoon dino never seems to stop questioning the logical missteps and wordplays in the world around him.

First World Problems

This meme forces us to take a hard look in the mirror at how truly trivial our problems can be in the grand scheme of things. Phrases like “close out of random tab … music stops playing” are splashed in front of the image of a distressed-looking woman. Shown with a single teardrop dripping down her face, she is clearly agonized by the horrid situation. This is one of the most popular memes in existence, with upwards of a thousand iterations floating around, and it’s not hard to see why. It allows viewers to laugh at themselves, and what better form of therapy could there be?

Hipster Ariel

A spin-off of Hipster Kitty (another notable, veteran meme), Hipster Ariel takes one of Disney’s most well-loved princesses and gives her some new, trendy flavor. Mixing childhood memories with ironic jokes highlighting the hipster movement, this meme makes the most recognizable redheaded mermaid’s ocean life an epicenter of alternative, Brooklyn-esque living, topped with thick black glasses and all. The meme spread quickly, sprouting up in places such as Reddit and BuzzFeed, but also Time Magazine and New York Magazine. This Hipster Ariel trend sprouted other ‘Hipster’ variations, such as Hipster Disney Villains and Hipster Disney Princesses, in which Belle and Pocahontas, among other princesses, are featured. While the Hipster Ariel meme is certainly worth a gander (or many), the redheaded real girl who dresses up like the cartoon Hipster Ariel might be going a bit too far.

Paranoid Parrot

Poking fun at our deep-rooted apprehensions and our belief that Murphy’s Law may have some truth to it, the Paranoid Parrot expresses jokes about the dark inclination to believe that the worst possible outcome will occur in every life situation. Whether it’s our inherent fear of dark places, slow moving cars, or misquoting lyrics in our Facebook statuses, the Paranoid Parrot makes keen observations and social commentaries that demonstrates how truly fearful we all are of looking like a fool.

Scumbag Steve

“I’ll be there in ten minutes … shows up two hours later.”

“Eats your Toaster Strudel … using two frosting packets.”

Scumbag Steve is THAT guy. He is the meme that embodies every social violation or rude remark uttered by those random socialites who always find a way to get into the party. Being the antithesis of fellow meme Good Guy Greg, everything that Steve does is for his own benefit. Scumbag Steve is the kid who always eats the last piece without asking, continues playing even after being hit in dodge ball, and slowly walks across the street after you graciously allow him to cross. When making your list for potential groomsmen, Steve is dead last.

Socially Awkward Penguin

Socially Awkward Penguin—the one meme to which everyone can relate. The one meme which provokes countless proclamations of “I’ve done that,” “Story of my life,” or “So true …” in between fits of laughter. This penguin, another Advice Animal, sheds light on awkward or uncomfortable subtleties in social situations that everyone has been a part of, but ironically gives no advice. The hilarious overarching narrative of this meme instead illustrates a penguin character lacking knowledge of social nuances and normal self-confidence. Interestingly enough, the image used in the meme is that of an Adeli penguin, and is featured on the National Geographic Wild Animals site.



January 18, 2012