The meme is a weird phenomenon of the 21st century. Memes appear suddenly out of nowhere and then travel everywhere. It all starts with a picture of a random person’s face capturing some oddly specific expression, and then boom, it spreads like wildfire and before you know it, some new unsuspecting subject has their face plastered all over the Internet. Meme-fame is fast and furious, as they never last very long (except for a rare few) because as we all know, fame is fleeting — even meme-fame.
The most popular meme of late, the “meme du jour” — if you will — is of a girl in a blue dress sitting up straight with her ankles crossed and lips pursed while “smizing” at the camera. I’m not sure who she is or what the context of the picture is, but I have seen it everywhere. Meme fame is weird because the person in the meme isn’t even initially aware that they’re the next great meme. In this case, it is 14-year-old Disney Channel star Skai Jackson.
She posted the infamous picture of herself on twitter at the beginning of the month, and what was supposed to be just a nice picture of herself on her personal account has now gone viral. Probably given her young age, a lot of the memes using her picture are mom scenarios, like “When you come home past curfew and your mom is waiting on the couch” or “When you meet his mom and she says ‘Oh so you’re the girl he’s always on FaceTime with’ but you got an android.” That last one was even reposted by Skai on her Twitter, who at least has a good sense of humor about her photo being re-appropriated by thousands of people. The point is, the speed of a meme’s circulation is both impressive and a bit frightening. It’s unstoppable.
This brings us to another popular meme that has a specific function; it is exclusively used to illustrate any disappointing occurrence in professional or collegiate sports. I’m talking about the crying Michael Jordan meme. It’s the perfect go-to picture to express any sort of sports loss, mistake, or upset. The picture that started it all is from Jordan’s emotional acceptance speech at his induction ceremony to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. His tear-stained face officially became a meme a few years later in 2015, and was used to comically illustrate upsetting events in sports such as the end of the Warriors 28-game winning streak, or when Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed a game-winning field goal (his face was the football).
The meme was used here and there, but after the University of North Carolina Tar Heels lost the NCAA Championship game to the Villanova Wildcats, the meme saw new life. Jordan, an alumnus of the University of North Carolina, attended the game, and twitter was more than ready to whip out the crying meme once again after their loss. His crying face was cut and pasted over everything and anything; over the ball during the game-winning shot, or on top of every fan’s in the crowd head, or even on top of his Air Jordan logo. It was even pasted over his own face during his post-game interview, creating a whole new meta-meme genre.
It’s now almost expected that there will be some sort of social media post with Jordan’s crying face to honor it after any team’s tragic loss. However, despite its predictability, the meme is still funny. Perhaps it has even become funnier because of just how widespread and long-lasting it is. It’s basically a sports-meme Hall of Famer, if that were a thing. Although my personal favorite is the one of Nick Young of the Los Angeles Lakers throwing a three-point attempt, turning around and raising his arms to celebrate but then realizing his shot didn’t even go in. That’s a classic. To whoever creates these, thank you, and I can’t wait to see which one’s next.