46 Memes That Defined 2018
To all the memes I’ve loved before.
1. Big Dick Energy
Rihanna has it. Jeff Goldblum has it. Pete Davidson, of course, has it.
The term was first used by @imbobswaget in reference to Anthony Bourdain after his death earlier that month, but it really took off with Davidson after @babyvietcong (whose account is no longer active) tweeted that he “exudes big dick energy.”
3. Walmart Yodeling Kid
4. Tide Pods
Introduced as the new Philadelphia Flyers mascot in September, Gritty — a seven-foot-tall monster with orange fur and wild eyes — quickly went from “what the fuck is that thing” to a national darling. His entrances onto the ice have been nothing short of iconic, and his tweets are an impossible balance of wholesome and harrowing.
Gritty was adopted as a leftist mascot, especially after socialist mag Jacobin tweeted that “Gritty is a worker.” The Wall Street Journal even published an op-ed calling for activists to “keep your Marxist hands off Gritty,” which was very funny.
When President Trump visited Philly in October, tons of people brought Gritty-themed protest signs.
6. Squinting Woman
7. Johny Johny
Johny Johny, yes Papa? If you’d somehow gotten this song out of your head by now, sorry, it’s back, you’re in hell again.
The video, which comes from nursery rhymes YouTube channel Billion Surprise Toys, depicts a baby (“Johny”) lying to his dad (“Papa”) about not eating sugar. Set to the tune of “Baby Shark” and accompanied by Pixar-meets-uncanny-valley animation, it became viral nightmare fuel after spreading to Twitter.
Bizarrely, little evidence of “Johny Johny” survives.
After the memes took off, Billion Surprise Toys issued a ton of DMCA takedown notices — which got the original viral tweet and a ton of other posts that included the video removed. They even removed the video from their channel.
For all we know, it could have been a giant collective fever dream all along.
8. American Chopper
This comic-style meme, which shows screencaps of Paul Teutul Sr. and Paul Teutul Jr. arguing on the reality show American Chopper, became a popular vehicle for sharing ~the discourse~.
As Vox put it in April, the American Chopper meme kind of operates as a simplified version of Socratic dialogue:
More broadly, in an era of performative social media dunking and tribalism run amok, the Chopper offers a lighthearted way to demonstrate that you actually understand the viewpoints of people on both sides of an issue. And beyond demonstrating your personal virtuosity, dialectic — the argument between two opposing points of view — turns out to be a fairly effective way to convey ideas and information, one that dates back to Plato’s famous dialogue but can be difficult to replicate in conventional media formats.
9. Let’s Get This Bread
10. “Thank U, Next”
11. We Need a Disney Princess
12. Life With Mak
13. Zendaya Is Meechee
14. Carly Rae Jepsen’s Sword
15. Ladies, Imagine This
16. Weird Flex but Okay
17. Krusty Krab vs. Chum Bucket
18. Black Hogwarts
19. By Age 35
20. Karma’s a Bitch
21. Thicc Mark Zuckerberg
22. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
23. Super Bowl Selfie Kid
24. Confused Cardi B
ASCII art — aka art made with keyboard characters — has existed in some form for as long as people have been typing. But it had a renaissance in 2018, with people playing around and designing all sorts of new, creative memes that involved a surprising amount of technical skill.
One of the major memes were these sparkles, which took over Twitter for a moment in April, adding a little bit of visual whimsy to everyone’s feeds.