2016 was a tumultuous year for many, but through all the drama in the U.S. Presidential election, the celebrity deaths, or Brexit, valiant internet warriors known as “memelords” kept regular civilians safe by churning out good, wholesome content for edgy teens to get through the dregs of daily life by escaping to their Instagram and Facebook feeds.
Memes became mainstream in 2016, becoming tools for the Trump campaign, news media, as well as websites and YouTube channels that explain the jokes behind the meme so that everybody can get in on the fun. 2016 was so ripe for memes, in fact, that there is no true winner for “best meme.”
However, in an effort to extend the word count of this paltry article topic (especially given the fact that I can’t include images), I will run through some of the candidates for “best meme of 2016” or otherwise known as “best meme of the past year” or “a good, wholesome meme for even grandma to enjoy” or “this ruined my childhood” or “Harambe was just a gorilla” or “why are you ranking memes, doesn’t that take the fun out of it?” Some will say, “How can you have ‘best meme’ when there are so many? They span so many categories; wouldn’t that be like comparing apples and oranges?” To this I would respond, apples and oranges are both fruits and round so there, I just compared them.
But I do see the issue, and since a ranking is IMPOSSIBLE, I will break the most popular memes into a handful of culture-related categories. We had so many memes, it’s crazy. We had dank political memes, childhood TV show memes, celebrity memes and even memes about memes! However, some memes have been commandeered, and even trigger certain groups.
Therefore, I will talk about none of those memes because those memes are bad memes that will give you bad dreams. So, here we go. Arguably the most important dead-gorilla-based meme, Harambe, became a household name after he was shot and killed in the Cincinnati Zoo this past May. Jabronis from far and wide absolutely ran the poor gorilla’s name into the ground, and once Barstool Sports started selling shirts paying homage, the meme had reached critical mass in popularity. Harambe was also the only dead gorilla to transcend into celebrity memes, often included in “in memoriam”
Instagram collages with images of all the legendary figures we lost last year, like Muhammad Ali and Prince. Speaking of celebrities, did you hear J. Cole went double platinum without any features? Or that Michael Phelps makes a face when he pumps himself up before his races? Crying Jordan? This year was plentiful for celebrities being made fun of, and one even became “dat” president! Tiny Drake sat on everything from the Seinfeld diner to his own shoulder. And of course, everyone’s favorite rascal-turned-Vice President, Joe Biden, had a tremendous run of memes towards the end of the year.
Whether it was messing with Mitch McConnell or roasting Donald Trump behind his back, memelords everywhere flocked to the buddy cop friendship of Biden and Obama to great avail. The internet also turned normal people into memes in an instant. From the unforgettably simple “Damn Daniel” to Ken Bone (Welcome to the Bone Zone), many people from all walks of life gained internet stardom for a hot second, which is more than I have ever been able to do. Want to know how to make a hit meme? Just find a still from a “Spongebob” episode and caption it with something like “When u run out of toilet paper” and billions of worthless hits and views are yours.
We had many such memes this year, from “Spongegar” to “Mr. Krabs” to “Dabbing Squidward,” as well as the litany of “Arthur” memes. Evil Kermit gave you a chance to reflect on ruining your own life in the continual struggle to find morality in an ever-increasing world of digital distractions. If you had seven minutes left to live, you know you would spend it watching “Bee Movie” but every time they say “bee” it gets faster.
In summation, memes were 2016’s saving grace. You know when you saw Dat Boi coming, you could forget about the worries of exams and essays, or that “Young Metro Don’t Trust” your professor. You could watch Milly Rock and Juju On That Beat compilations on Youtube and not have to check CNN to know that the world hadn’t ended quite yet. We Are Number One became the surprise hit song of the year. Despite all the Bad Hombres who might try to ruin your life, you could find a doggo or pupper to save your day. You could join an important cause and get involved, like signing the petition titled “Rename Fire Ants to Spicy Boys.” Or study colorized 100 percent accurate historical pictures of World War I battles. Anything could be happening in the world: Daquan could show you that “this is fine.” 2016 in memes was Hugh Mungus. In looking forward to 2017, I hope memes will only continue to get danker. But if they don’t, Don’t Talk To Me Or My Son Ever Again.