The Sandy Conspirathon

You may have heard of this little hurricane called Sandy. If you haven’t, that’s probably because you’re currently in New York and your power’s been cut. In which case, how’re you reading this? Your voodoo magic doesn’t frighten me, witch doctor!

Sandy’s claimed dozens of lives and is so far estimated to have caused 20 billion dollars worth of damage in US. Small change.

But while the rest of us are worried about trivial things like mass devastation and loss of human lives, there are fearless few who dare to ask the truly important question: “are gay people and Obama to blame here?!”

This article lists four conspiracy theories voiced by separate sources, each nutjobier than the other:

  • Sandy is God’s punishment for legalising abortion and gay marriage. Because an unspeakable atrocity like two people in love getting married deserves nothing less than a devastatig hurricane.
  • Sandy was engineered by Obama, because then he could something something something, and then BAM, get re-elected. Honestly, if I find out Obama learned how to manipulate freaking weather and wasted that power on creating Sandy, I’ll be sorely disappointed. Barack, if that’s your best use of a climate control device, then you’re the shittiest supervillain in history!
  • Sandy was inevitable and aliens have predicted it. Mulder, you were right all along!
  • Sandy is God’s punishment for dividing Israel. You see, God hasn’t settled on which of the “gay marriage” or “Israel” excuses works best, so he’s keeping his options open.

Whenever I hear or read shit like this, I always wonder what these people’s deal is. I can offer only two possible explanations:

  1. They wholeheartedly believe every bit of this nonsense. That would make them certifiably insane. The fact that they aren’t diagnosed as dangerous lunatics supports my “protecting the world’s crazies” conspiracy theory. Book out in stores in 2014. Ha, kidding, we all know we’re gonna die in, like, two months. The Mayans said so.
  2. They are perfectly aware that at least some of what they’re saying is utter bullshit. That would make them guilty of manipulation in order to promote their agenda, even if that agenda is “Hey guys – aliens and stuff!”.

Regardless, whatever their motivation for propagating insanity, they’re all missing the real culprit here…

Gangnam Style.

If you skip to the 30 second mark of the video, you see the man perform what looks like a “dance” move, consisting of repeated ground stomping. Immediately afterwards he walks through a tunnel where unusually strong wind blows garbage in his face. Here’s a helpful diagram:

Wind is invisible, so it requires more arrows

Coincidence? Most definitely not! This man is clearly a wind whisperer and his “dance” is an ancient ritual for summoning storms. Look, I’m just laying out the facts, you be the judge!

If one man can single-handedly (or double-leggedly, as is the case here) create such a powerful storm, imagine what happens when you multiply that by 615 million? That’s right – a hurricane! Well, what do you know? The video has over 615 million views on Youtube as of today. Coincidence? …Exactly!

I have once made a futile attempt to warn you all about the spread of this man’s influence. You didn’t heed my warning and now it’s far too late! Too many people have copied the wind ritual cleverly disguised as Gangnam dance. There’s no stopping him now.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, if you’re looking for someone to blame for this disaster – blame Britney Spears and Ellen Degeneres:

What do you think? Would you call my theory “insightful and accurate” or “undeniable and bullet-proof”? Is Gangnam going to doom us all? Do you have your own theory about this?

5 Lifestages of a Meme

According to the only reliable source of knowledge in modern society – Wikipedia – a “meme” is “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.“. Well, that’s what the term used to mean. The Internet has redefined that concept to apply to essentially any piece of media (text, picture, video, etc.) that goes viral enough to breed spin-offs and copies, transcending cultures and spreading across continents.

Today’s meme connoisseurs have dedicated resources at their disposal, such as, to track current memes and keep an archive of prior ones.

I humbly consider myself to be an Internet-browsing professional. Through extensive and meticulous research I have been able to identify five distinct stages every meme goes through. Below, I share my findings with you, in an attempt to educate you and enhance your appreciation of the world. To illustrate my points I use a very current phenomenon – a song called “Gangnam Style” by PSY (be patient, all will be revealed soon).

SPOILER ALERT: There’s a very high chance that you will hate both the song and me by the end of this post.

When you’re about to hate me, remember who brought you this puppy picture!

Stage 1: Virality

Any concept needs to reach a certain critical mass in order to become elevated to the prestigious “meme” status. That photo of your dog chewing a stress-ball with Obama’s face on it? The one twenty of your friends liked on Facebook? Not a meme! That video of you chewing the same stress ball while drunk and singing “I’m Too Sexy For My Balls”? The one uploaded to Youtube and seen by tens of millions of people? The one mentioned by both John Stewart and Jay Leno in their opening routines? Probably a meme, or close to becoming one!

So, the first stage in any meme’s lifecycle is virality! Now, on to our example.

In mid July 2012 South Korean singer PSY released a music video entitled “Gangnam Style”. The video is an insane amalgam of bad rapping, bad dancing and epilepsy-inducing visuals. Throughout the video your eyes and ears are assaulted by a barrage of events that your brain has no hope of ever processing in a satisfactory manner. In short, it’s awesome!

If you have somehow avoided seeing this visual and auditory equivalent of electroshock therapy up until now, here you go:

As of right now the “Gangnam Style” has 253,690,773 views on Youtube. For comparison, a video of me playing solitaire, uploaded two years ago, has 253,690,770 views less. Oppan Gangnam Style indeed! (edit 20-10-2012: it is now 508,390,243 views, really leaving my solitaire video in the dust).

Stage 2: Copycats

Inevitably, others will want to join the ride. That’s why any meme will soon spawn countless copies. It doesn’t matter what the original target audience of a meme was. Memes transcend all demographic boundaries. What? Don’t believe me? You demand examples? Is that why you’re  screaming “Please, no more Gangnam Style!”. Sure, here you go:

Navy Style:

Baby Style:

Flash Mob Style:

Stage 3: Parodies & Remixes

Eventually, some creative folks will take the “copying” a step further and re-invent the meme by adding other elements to it. They’ll take inspiration in the original meme, but change up the atmosphere and incorporate something new into the mix. That’s how you go from an Asian dance video to…Lord of the Rings?

While you’re at it, why not use computer games to animate your new video-interpretation of the meme?

One of two things is happening right now:

1) You despise me for introducing “Gangnam Style” into your life. In frustration, you try to scream obscenities at your screen, but inexplicably all that comes out are “Gangnam Style” lyrics.

2) You find “Gangnam Style” firmly implanted into your head and consider it the catchiest video since Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping”.

Now that I think of it…it’s far more likely that both of those things are happening simultaneously.

In either case, you need a short break from it all. That’s why I want to treat you to one of my favourite meme remixes of all time. In 2003 a video surfaced of a teenager swinging a golf ball retriever, pretending to be a Jedi. The video went viral and the meme became forever known as the “Star Wars Kid”. Then a creative soul decided to make the kid’s dreams come true and added a touch of special effects to the video, turning it into a Hollywood blockbuster. Enjoy:

Stage 4: Meme Fusion

Finally, a meme reaches the pinnacle of its popularity. At this stage the meme gets fused with other memes, current and past, into a perfect blend of awesomeness. Memes of all origins unite to form something new, yet instantly recognizable.

Remember the “Ecce Homo” restoration I’ve talked about just ten days ago? Don’t remember? How about now:

I’ll have you know that “Ecce Homo” is officially a meme by now.

If any of you wonder what happens when you merge the two memes and type “Ecce Homo Gangnam Style” into the search field on Youtube, wonder no longer:

Another great example is people picking up a much older “Hitler Reacts” meme and fusing it with “Gangnam Style”. Why do people insist on introducing Hitler to all things, including an innocent dance video? Because Internet is where logic and reason go to get stabbed and set on fire.

I cannot, in good conscience, let you leave here today with “Gangnam Style” warping your mind and taking place of all rational thoughts. That’s why I want to share a meme-fusion example that’s also a personal favourite of mine. It’s a mash-up of Christian Bale’s famous mad rant on the set of Terminator: Salvation and a video of a kid under the influence of drugs after a visit to the dentist. It goes a little something like:

Stage 5: Obscurity

All good things must eventually come to an end. An internet meme is no exception. No matter how popular a meme is, no matter how many people are copying and sharing it, a day will come when something new will take its place. Yes, even “Gangnam Style” will soon become a thing of the past, even if that catchy tune playing in your head right now says otherwise.

But don’t you cry for “Gangnam Style”. No matter how forgotten it becomes, it will only be a matter of time before it gets picked up and fused with “cyborg-dog juggles lasers”, or whatever other future memes are in store for us. If it doesn’t, I promise to make my own video remix: “Daniel plays solitaire, Gangnam-style”. That should definitely land me more Youtube views!