How to Deep-Fry a Meme
A new tool automates the process for videos.
Image: Shutterstock / Composition: Louise Matsakis
Around 2015, a new kind of meme began to proliferate on Twitter. Its iterations were washed out, weirdly colored, and poorly filtered. Often, they featured pop culture images, like SpongeBob SquarePants. These so-called "deep fried memes" were comically over-processed. They look like they've been compressed, re-uploaded, and compressed again.
The style originated on Black Twitter, particularly during late-night hours referred to as "Real N**** Hours." Deep fried memes have their own dedicated subreddit, r/deepfriedmemes, which has almost 100,000 subscribers.
In order to create a deep fried meme, you'll often need to layer many visual effects on top of each other, to create that grainy, nice-and-crispy aesthetic. The process can be time consuming, but there are various software programs designed to hasten the necessary frying time. Now, there's also a script for deep frying videos, created by an artist who goes by Manny404.
"Deep fried memes are memes that have had their visual properties exaggerated and blown out for artistic effect," Manny404 explained in an email. "Some properties commonly adjusted are saturation, brightness, contrast, color balance, vibrance, sharpness, and noise."
He said it took about a day to write the script. "It's inefficient but works well. It takes video input, adds randomly sized and positioned emojis throughout, then encodes it with a series of randomized video filters and times," he told me. "The audio is also run through an amount of volume, bass, and treble filters."
Manny404 created the tool to fill a hole in the market—there are plenty of programs to fry images, but none to add the same treatment to videos. He also decided to build it because deep fried memes are, to him, a superior genre.
"Shoutout to black twitter for birthing real n**** hours and fostering deep fried memes, truly the greatest meme format of all time," he said.