MEMES: THE NEW WEB LINGO
The Indian parent, rich Delhi boy, BC Billa and now Alok Nath. Indian memes have come of age
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!