MEMES: THE NEW WEB LINGO

The In­dian par­ent, rich Delhi boy, BC Billa and now Alok Nath. In­dian memes have come of age

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - HUMOUR SPECIAL - by Su­parn Pandey

The word ‘meme’ (rhymes with ‘team’) was first in­tro­duced by evo­lu­tion­ary bi­ol­o­gist Richard Dawkins in 1976. Meme comes from the Greek word mimema (mean­ing ‘some­thing im­i­tated’). Dawkins de­scribed memes as be­ing a form of cul­tural prop­a­ga­tion, a way for people to trans­mit so­cial mem­o­ries and cul­tural ideas to each other.

Well, that’s what Wikipedia had to say about this any­way. But I don’t think that was very help­ful. So I’ll tell you, and give you some per­spec­tive too. Memes are tid­bits of ev­ery­day hu­man ex­pe­ri­ences in the form of jokes or sto­ries. They are usu­ally ex­pressed through an im­age or video. And they are heav­ily shared on the In­ter­net, usu­ally as one pic­ture with su­per­im­posed text that will in­stantly have you in splits. (A video or a GIF can be a meme as well. Those 30-sec­ond Har­lem Shake videos that went vi­ral last year? All memes!) Many be­lieve that the first In­ter­net meme ever was a GIF or a video of a 3D baby dancing in his di­a­per, which went vi­ral over mail net­works at the time (in 1996, or so say meme geeks on the In­ter­net).

And any­thing can be a meme. Dif­fer­ent memes do dif­fer­ent things but there are no set rules. I’m talk­ing about In­san­ity Wolf

(which looks scary and gives in­sane ad­vice), there’s Doge (a mis­pro­nounced dog, who doesn’t have much of a vo­cab­u­lary) and Overly At­tached Girl­friend (who, to be fair, is just mis­un­der­stood).

Memes are so funny be­cause they are re­lat­able. A lot of us be­lieve in crazy con­spir­acy the­o­ries. But these are best ex­pressed only with the Con­spir­acy Keanu meme (which is a photo of Keanu Reeves’s very fright­ened ex­pres­sion from Bill & Ted’s Ex­cel­lent

Ad­ven­ture, usu­ally cap­tioned with some crazy con­spir­acy the­ory).

We are now used to con­sum­ing quick, bite-sized pieces of hu­mour and quickly mov­ing on to the next. I like to call this phe­nom­e­non ‘LoLing While Scrolling’.

There’s more to memes than just hu­mour, though. Many In­ter­net memes are also about shock value and drama, for ex­am­ple, Suc­cess Kid (who is smug). Other memes talk about life lessons or ad­vice. You can count on Good Guy Greg and Ac­tual Ad­vice Mal­lard.

We love memes. They make us laugh, they make us think and make us share. But best of all, ev­ery sin­gle one of us can make one. And that, my friends, is the beauty of a meme.

We were a lit­tle slow to catch up to meme cul­ture. Our be­gin­nings were hum­ble – the Rich Delhi Boy and In­dian Par­ent memes. But once we caught up, there was no look­ing back. Rage Comics be­came even more hi­lar­i­ous when we started us­ing Rage faces to talk about In­dian ex­pe­ri­ences and prob­lems. Iconic celebri­ties like Am­r­ish Puri and Nana Patekar started mak­ing ap­pear­ances in rip-roar­ingly funny Face­book com­ments and posts. My favourite one is where Am­r­ish Puri is look­ing all se­ri­ous and the text be­low him says, “Iski baat mein dum hai!”

We also adapted some of the more pop­u­lar Western memes to suit our ec­cen­tric tastes. The Grumpy Cat meme be­came the BC Billa. So the pic­ture of that per­pet­u­ally mo­rose cat who was a spoiler to any­thing happy started trolling Bol­ly­wood and pol­i­tics with a “BC this and BC that!” More re­cently, the very pop­u­lar Norinder Mudi meme was ac­tu­ally in­spired by the now ex­tinct Dolan Duck.

But in the end, it was a Twit­ter trend that is re­spon­si­ble for the ex­plo­sion of the In­dian meme cul­ture. I’m talk­ing about Alok Nath. [Check out the hi­lar­i­ous back page!] As tweeple across the coun­try went nuts cracking jokes about Alok Nath, we at Scoop­Whoop smelled op­por­tu­nity. We took the best Nath jokes we could find and cre­ated the San­skari Alok Nath meme.

Many oth­ers fol­lowed suit and made their own vari­a­tions. Now, with over a dozen jokes and char­ac­ters out there, it’s rain­ing memes.

Memes are con­stantly evolv­ing, mu­tat­ing and dy­ing out. The next big thing will be Vine memes. The app lets you record upto six sec­onds of video and cre­ate a meme.

Whal­ing (people thrust their bod­ies back­wards – al­most like a whale’s leap) has al­ready taken the world by storm. Ev­ery­one loves memes. And ev­ery­one’s mak­ing them. So go out there and make your own.

The In­dian Par­ent meme – pos­si­bly in­spired by the High Ex­pec­ta­tions Asian Fa­ther

Don’t un­der­stand? You’re not on­line nearly enough! Google Jackie Shroff + Polio drops. This is a meme that should be a meme

The best things are still copied. And Chuck Nor­ris is still the baap of Ra­jinikanth

Arvind Ke­jri­wal burn­ing copies of the Lok­pal Bill. Break­ing news? We say, in­stant meme!

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