Memes are defined as a unit of pop culture. The term was first coined by a British scientist, RichardDawkins, to describe the evolution and spread of cultural ideas. Somewhere along the line, the term degenerated to describe LOLcats and Rickrolling.
The success and longevity of a meme depends upon how culturally relevant it is. Case in point, this past Sunday, MTV aired its annual Music Video Awards. As a big television event, the award show had lots of eyeballs on it, so when the unexpected happened, it did not take long for that moment to bear fruit to a new meme. During an acceptance speech by country/pop singer Taylor Swift, hip hop artist Kanye West grabbed the microphone from her hand to proclaim that Beyonce, who Taylor had beat out for the award, had “one of the best videos of all time.” (Video here) This opened the door for a brand new meme that caught on like wildfire yesterday.
If you’d like to search for more, look for “Interrupting Kanye, “Kanye West” meme or “Imma let you finish.” In this case, the meme has gone highly viral in a short period of time because of the amount of attention to the source material. Will it die out just as quickly? Time will tell.
Another recent meme follows the same pattern: large televised event + highly inappropriate comment = new meme. During President Obama’s address to congress last week on Health Care, Representative Joe Wilson shouted out “you lie” in the middle of the president’s speech. (Video here) In this case, Joe Wilson was mashed up with other famous Internet memes.
And since both cases were so similar and occured only a week apart, it was inevitable that the two would be mashed up.
The upside, by following certain formulas, it is possible to craft a highly viral meme. The downside, this particular formula isn’t advisable for client work.