Hello it is me: meme professor.
Over the weekend two more memes happened—please update your calendars accordingly—and now we have to go through them both so we are not left behind, languishing in history, backwards Neanderthals who throw rocks at the sun and don't know what "Pepe" is. The first meme is "What in Tarnation," which is just a Texan slang sentence that always ends in the word "tarnation" w/ an accompanying picture of a Stetson, because I don't fucking know, alright, I don't understand, it's a fucking hat, I don't get it. And the second meme is pictures of a Shiba dog with the caption "zoom in on the nose" and there, on the nose, glistening, almost imperceptibly, are Comic Sans instructions that send you around the photo on a wild goose chase that normally ends in an affirmation—"~remember u are beautiful~" —or whatever the opposite of that is—"~ya trash~"—and that is the other meme. These go into the pile with Salt Bae, Hurt Bae, Blinking White Man, and Roll Safe Tapping His Head as the Memes of 2017.
Another thing happened at the weekend, and that was the Oscar ceremony for all the films. This is pertinent because, arguably, this is one of the last of these ceremonies where the old guard maintains balance before being couped to death by the new: inevitably, in circa 15 years, we will, on the last Sunday in February, be watching The Academy of Meme Awards, where the stars—On Fleek Girl; Jay Versace; whichever YouTubers are not in prison for sexual harassment crimes; the "Cash Me Ousside" Girl who, now reformed and wholesome, is on par with the artist we currently know as Beyoncé, where wind from a source unseen ripples her flowing dress, and her two adorable angel children, in tiny tuxedos, claw their little hands at her holy hem—walk the red carpet, bowing their heads reverently to the horde of showbiz reporters, murmuring sweet nothings about who they are wearing and how they hope the people nominated opposite them in every category actually win on the night. And Hollywood actors—those slowly extinct beasts—will sit at home and get 1K+ retweets for saying "YASSSSSSSSS!" every time their unproblematic fave wins an award. Jimmy Kimmel does a classically anodyne turn as host. The world keeps turning.
So we all agree now that 2017 is a watershed moment in memes crashing into the traditional media, and that inevitably they will eventually take it over. We all agree about that.
But before we go out into that good night we have to compile and rate all of the memes that emerged from last night's aforementioned awards ceremony, shuffle them through our fingers, really get a feel of them. These are curious memes: It's hard to tell, at this early stage, which of them will burn out to be forgotten within days, and which will endure for months, endure forever. We can pretty much guess, though. Come on. We're not dumb. Here are the memes you need to know and the memes you need to don't:
NICOLE KIDMAN CLAPPING
HOW MUCH AM I GONNA CARE ABOUT THIS MEME IN SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS TIME? 5/10
Well, see, this one could go either way. The thing with memes of people clapping in unusual, alien, all-the-way-fucked-up ways is there is always a numbers tweet in remembering it. Right now, the fact that Nicole Kidman claps like one of those women in the Guinness Book of Records with long, curled, gnarled up old six-feet-long fingernails; clapping like that fingernail woman is gently trying to kill a slow-moving bee: that's fun, but it's not life-changing information. This is like the first time you ever saw that Michael Gove clapping tweet. It didn't become relevant until he went full bumbling evil post-Brexit and then we rolled out the clap reminder and his house of cards collapsed beneath him. Essentially, we don't need the information that Nicole Kidman clapping looks like two spoons trying to fuck unless Kidman goes evil and we need to spotlight the fact that she's flawed to remind us that she's human and then it will become a meme again. Schedule it in for eight months' time: A "reminder that Nicole Kidman can't clap" tweet, with this .gif attached, and you'll get 16K+ retweets. I'm calling it.
BEATTY YOUR ENTHUSIASM
HOW MUCH AM I GONNA CARE ABOUT THIS MEME IN SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS TIME? 1/10
The big mix-up at last night's Oscars—that, due to Best Actress winner Emma Stone's card being left in the Best Picture envelope, the award was briefly given to La La Land over the real winner, Moonlight, with chaos ensuing throughout—was sort of the first major watershed moment of 2017. It's too early in the year, truly, to get a taste of it, to get a real read on the mood and shape 2017 is going to take, but "Faye Dunaway giving the wrong Oscar out because someone fucked up an envelope" feels already like it's the analogy that will be used to sum the year up. "Are we all not," I will write, in December of this year, as I pump out some wrap-it-up content before I take my extended Christmas break, "Are we all, not, all of us, Faye Dunaway, with the wrong envelope at the Oscars, giving the statue to La La Land instead of Moonlight?" In a way, it feels too obvious.
So I think it will go the other way: Dunaway's Steve Harvey moment, like Steve Harvey's Steve Harvey moment, will go largely forgotten, lost to the annals of history until someone else fucks up a major award again and mis-presents it to someone else.
But Warren Beatty, taking the envelope, slowly announcing the lead up to the winner, checking again, and again, agonising over it a few more seconds… then palming it off to Dunaway to instead make the fuck-up on live TV? Icon. Icon. Iconic. Give the ninth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm to him. I would literally watch hours of TV of Warren Beatty charmingly fucking up at life. I would quit my job to watch that show.
JACKIE CHAN WITH PANDAS
HOW MUCH AM I GONNA CARE ABOUT THIS MEME IN SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS? AT ONCE 10/10 AND 0/10
Jackie Chan bringing two panda toys as his plus-one to the Oscars actually transcends being a meme, because it's one of the most important things to ever happen in history, meaning it busts out from the circular frame within which memes operate – they are born, ascend rapidly, burn out faster, then fade to nothing – and becomes something More; becomes a central tenet on which the legend of Jackie Chan is built. Jackie Chan has broken every bone in his body at least a thousand times and is still one of the most placid, cheery dudes on the planet. Jackie Chan could kill me a hundred different ways before I could even throw one punch at him, but he still sort of rocks the vibe of "the dinner lady you run to for a hug when you are sad or have hurt yourself" (*1). Jackie Chan – panda ambassador – has bought two soft toy pandas to the Oscars to raise awareness of pandas. Jackie Chan is too pure for this world. He is too pure to be a meme. Jackie Chan is an angel. I love you, Jackie Chan.
'SUICIDE SQUAD' WON AN OSCAR
HOW MUCH AM I GONNA CARE ABOUT THIS MEME IN SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS? 7/10
Suicide Squad, as best I can tell, is something that happened when a load of Hot Topic T-shirts decided to get together and make a film, and for some reason Will Smith is in it. It won an Oscar last night. Not a good Oscar – best makeup, or something, which I didn't even know was an Oscar until today, so big-up Suicide Squad for putting it on the map – but yeah. Suicide Squad is an Oscar-winning film. And this is always going to be pertinent. Hey: don't let the dickheads get you down. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't achieve your dreams. Suicide Squad just won an Oscar. You can do anything.
RYAN GOSLING WHISPERING SWEET GOSLING NOTHINGS TO A SHOCKED-LOOKING CIVILIAN
HOW MUCH AM I GONNA CARE ABOUT THIS MEME IN SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS? 0/10
For some reason Jimmy Kimmel was allowed to present the Oscars and so he did that Jimmy Kimmel thing where he slowly brings his hands together every time a camera is on him and kind of chuckles, "Heh: those real people, right?" and then cuts to a VT where people on the street or whatever are saying dumb real people things, and dressing badly and having double chins, the real people, because looking distantly at real people is about the only joke Kimmel's got. Anyway, he bought a load of real people from a Hollywood bus tour and let them in, in their ill-fitting shorts and caps, and all the actors and singers and models sat and politely clapped at them, as the real people just unashamedly got their cameraphones out and started taking photos and videos of them all. When the class war inevitably reaches an apex and the rich put the poor in zoos to observe, this is kind of what it will look like.
Anyway, here's a photo of Ryan Gosling meeting one of the real people last night, and considerately whispering close to introduce himself, because he is a Nice Boy, Ryan Gosling, and is already basically a meme with a wry smile anyway, so this was memes colliding:
How much are you going to care about this photo in, like, another 40, 45 minutes? Not at all. You will never be able to recall this, not even if terrorists put a car battery on your junk, in anything more than a week. Drink this moment in, because you are doomed to forget it. It is nothing. Absolutely nothing.
TARAJI P. HENSON DOING THE IRL CONCEITED MEME
HOW MUCH AM I GONNA CARE ABOUT THIS MEME IN SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS? 10/10
This is the one. This is the winner. I didn't even know a human face could shape itself in a way to convey such contempt. I feel judged for asking a question I didn't even ask. I can't watch this .gif loop too many times without my heartbeat raising like it did when I was a kid and I knew I was in trouble. This is the Oscars meme we are all going to take away from this. Get used to this being used as a reaction .gif. Get used to this usurping every other reaction .gif. There is no better face that's ever going to be pulled. Thank you, the Oscars 2017, for this gift.
(*1) There are exactly two dinner lady personality types: the nice dinner lady who is cuddly and nice and has a covert pocket in her body-warmer with sweets in it, and if you feel sad or have a cry or you have grazed your knee down you can go to her and she will cuddle you and nuzzle her close to her fleecied breast and shush you and tell you everything will be OK; and then you have fucking full evil, The-Actual-Devil-has-come-up-from-hell-and-decided-to-spend-20-minutes-at-break-and-an-hour-at-lunch-blowing-a-whistle-at-you-and-being-a-dick types. There is no other dinner lady type. Dinnerladies can only be angels or demons. There is no room for nuance in between. Jackie Chan is the good dinnerlady.*
* Related: I would fully watch a film starring Jackie Chan called The Good Dinner Lady. Imagine it as sort of a Kindergarten Cop/ Mrs. Doubtfire mash-up: Chan, in an effort to get closer to his estranged grandchildren, goes deep undercover as a school dinner lady. There he slowly struggles to win the kids over – they do not trust him or truly believe he is cool until, after a mishap in the kitchen, he has to distribute the dinner trays at lunch time, which he does by karate kicking them with unerring accuracy across the room (soundtrack: "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by the Baha Men). After a cheery opening act, Jackie Chan then unearths a dark conspiracy – the school headmaster (Danny McBride), in cahoots with the local mafia chief (Ruby Rose), is funnelling funds through the school or selling off reading materials or something. Jackie and the kids are the only people who can foil this dastardly plan, for some reason, and so, over a series of montages, Jackie Chan teaches them all karate. Also the school janitor (Kevin James), unaware Jackie Chan is a quiet 62-year-old man, is extremely horny for him.
Listen, I haven't worked all the details out, which is why I am selling this film spec for less than my usual rate, so if you want it please wire £500,000 to Joel Golby c/o VICE. At one point Jackie Chan kicks Jason Statham (gang member posing as a stepdad) so hard in the nuts that he loses his British accent. DJ Khaled does the end credits rap. Someone please make this film.