Top Memes Of 2011

What is the secret recipe behind ‘going viral’? There is no simple answer. Besides cats dressed in people clothes there isn’t really a clear criteria for how to maximise meme-potential. Who knows what brand of magic it takes to capture the collective attention of internet users – but based on the major Memes Of 2011 there seems to be a trend of meme subject matter that unites us (the internet) through overwhelming dislike (e.g. Rebecca Black) or unites us through universal love (e.g. Ryan Gosling). And then there’s the stuff that makes absolutely zero sense but provides passive, meaningless LOLZ (TMNT Noses).

PLANKING The meaningless Australian fad that went viral around the world. ‘Planking’ is the act of lying down pretending to be a wooden plank in public places. Like all good memes, Planking quickly spawned alternative offshoots like Pillaring and Teapotting but, in the same way that Dramatic Pug will never reach the meme-status of Dramatic Chipmunk, the ridiculous original is always the best.

IS RYAN GOSLING CUTER THAN A PUPPY? This year no Ryan Gosling-themed tumblr has been more powerful than Is Ryan Gosling Cuter Than A Puppy?. The concept is genius in its crossover appeal i.e. EVERYONE likes Ryan Gosling and EVERYONE likes puppies. It’s the Sophie’s Choice of cuteness and everyone wins.

REBECCA BLACK “FRIDAY” All it took was a 13-year-old girl, a truly bad (albeit catchy) hook, heavy-handed AutoTune, thousands of armchair critics throwing out SEO-friendly phrases like “Worst Song Of All Time”, and suddenly Rebecca Black’s vanity release “Friday” had 167 million views on YouTube.

PRINCESS BEATRICE’S ROYAL WEDDING HAT Of all the guests at the Royal Wedding Princess Beatrice had the loudest hat. The artful Philip Treacy creation was the subject of much criticism from royal style commentators. The internet thought it was a cool thing to dangle cats out of.

KANYE WITH WHITE PEOPLE The creators of Kanye With White People tapped into an inexplicable breed of viral magic this year. What exactly is it about pictures of Kanye West and white people that creates such high reblog potency?… The truth is, like the long-unsolved mystery of the Colonel’s 11 different herbs and spices, no one but the original wizards behind this tumblr will ever truly know the secret.

NYAN CAT Cats, right! They’re the reigning champions of the Internet. So what is the point of difference that 2011 newcomer Nyan Cat offers? How about: a cat with a Pop Tart for a body that flies through the night sky in perpetuity, powered by rainbow poo. Add a Japanese-disco theme song with a repetitive chorus of “meow”‘s and there you have it: 53,742,968 YouTube views in under a year.

SOPHIA GRACE SINGS NICKI MINAJ A video of 8-year-old Nicki Minaj fan Sophia Grace Brownlee and her silent backup dancer Rosie performing Minaj’s “Super Bass” in tutus went viral fast enough to pique the interest of Ellen Degeneres who invited the girls to appear on her eponymous talk show. The tutus combined with Sophia Grace’s extroverted enthusiasm, British accent and impressive flow were enough to impress even Ms Minaj, who surprised the girls on a follow-up appearance on the show.

OCCUPY WALL STREET PEPPER SPRAY A disturbing image of a teenage Occupy Wall Street protester getting pepper sprayed by a cop spurned a million memes of the cop casually pepper spraying other things – even piggybacking off other recognisable memes for extra traction. Finding LOLs in tragedy is what the internet does best.

CHICKS WITH STEVE BUSCEMI EYES It’s amazing how the sleepy eyes of Steve Buscemi look totally fine on him and totally horrifying on any woman. That’s the basic concept behind this tumblr.

CASEY ‘THE PUNISHER’ HEYNES Australian high school bullying victim Casey Heynes (aka Casey The Punisher) finally had enough after being “tormented every single day of his short high school life”. The moment he finally body-slammed one of his tormentors was caught on camera-phone and made international headlines, as well as providing the rest of us with the vicarious catharsis that comes whenever the good guy takes a win.

Got any more suggestions? Lay it on us in the comment section.