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She Said, Z Said: Meme, Myself and I
She: Selleck. Waterfall. Sandwich.
Z: Ooookay. I’ll play. How about: Agnes Moorehead, volcano and sushi?
She: Have you not heard of Selleck Waterfall Sandwich?
Z: Uh ... no? I thought we were playing some weird list game. Or throwing out random words, so our readers could play improv games at home.
She: Nope. Selleck Waterfall Sandwich is an Internet meme. It’s mashed-up pictures of Tom Selleck, a waterfall and a sandwich.
Z: The point being?
She: As far as I know it’s completely pointless, but at the same time sort of brilliant. It turns out that I like pictures of Tom Selleck with a waterfall and a sandwich. The sum of those three things — all pretty great on their own — is even greater than its parts.
Z: Now I know what to get you for your birthday.
She: One of my other favorite Internet memes is the endless versions of “Sh*t Girls Say.”
Z: I think my favorite Internet meme is Internet memes. That phrase seems to be everywhere lately.
She: True. We even got invited to a Hallowmeme party this year. Of course, that was way back in late 2011 when memes were still cutting edge and not getting book deals.
Z: Yeah, right.
She: I’m not kidding. Harlequin actually bought the rights to Sh*t Girls Say.” I’m all over that book. “Like I’m not even joking right now! ... So good, right?”
Z: For our readers who have been smart enough to completely avoid Internet memes, they are concepts that spread across the Internet. Mostly random concepts. Probably the most famous one is Lolcats, with a picture of a cat and some misspelled phrase, like “I Can Has Cheezburger?”
She: I think I like Selleck Waterfall Sandwich because it’s so genuinely odd. Honestly, the first time I saw those words together I thought it was going to be some crazy sexual thing that I wouldn’t be able to un-see later.
Z: And yet you still looked?
She: Couldn’t help myself. That’s the thing about memes, once you hear about them it’s hard to avoid trying to find out more.
Z: They’re not ideas that are going to make anyone rich. Or happy. Mostly just confused.
She: Tom Selleck, waterfalls and sandwiches made me happy.
Z: There is a definite sniff test with a lot of these things. There are people out there who try way too hard to create Internet memes, and they never quite smell right.
She: The very best ones tend to be accidental. They seem like they’re versions of something that you and a few of your friends found unreasonably funny because of the mood you were in at the time. And a few of those hit the right chord with lots of people.
Z: And they’re fast. There’s one that started at the end of March called Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. Someone posted 100 pictures of a marathon, but titled one of them, “My friend calls him, ‘Mr. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy.’ Five days later, after a series of posts in a variety of places, there were over 1,000 versions of the same photo with captions like, “Runs marathon and wins my heart.”
She: And some of them are closer to home, like the Caine’s Arcade video that the L.A. Times has been doing articles on. A kid in Boyle Heights made an arcade out of cardboard boxes, and a guy made a video of it. It’s had over two and a half million views in the last couple of weeks.
Z: I like how impossible it is to predict what sort of picture or video or phrase will suddenly explode across the internet.
She: And I’m mystified by the mechanism.
Z: There are websites devoted to internet memes. KnowYourMeme.com has an enormous database with meme etymology.
She: Is it still a meme if people over 40 are talking about it? Doesn’t the fact that you and I are writing about it mean that it’s over?
Z: No. There’s the whole “Grandma finds the Internet meme,” after all.
She: Not to mention a zillion different meme-generator websites. I just clicked on one and got “Your nerd is not broken,” followed by “That’s not a bucket; this is a bucket.” It’s pretty fun. Then there’s the Tiger Mom meme-generator. “Your blood type is A- why not A+?” I love it. I could do this all day and never get any work done at all. Wait, that’s a great meme; “I could do this all day and never get any work done at all.”
Z: You do see the irony there, right?
She: It’s brilliant. We need to start a website.
Z: Yes, dear.
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