When it comes to Internet memes, 2014 proved to be a transitional year for what is and isn’t considered worthy of going viral. Whereas in the past any bit of silliness might blow up online, most of the web’s favorite inside jokes in 2014 were tied to something happening in the world.
In fact, Internet humor has gotten so topical that a meme that was nearly ubiquitous one week might never be seen again the next.
You can call it the meme-ification of society, or the infiltration of social media into real life, but one thing you can’t call it is unfunny. In fact, you could argue that some of this year’s most clever comedy came from the Internet’s anonymous meme makers. And with that, here’s Paste’s “10 Best Memes of 2014.”
This meme featuring an insincerely indifferent Kermit the Frog first hit the web in June and the @thatsnoneofmybusinesstho Instagram feed gained thousands of followers shortly thereafter. Controversy erupted on Reddit when some users questioned whether a meme should feature a company’s logo (Lipton Iced Tea) so prominently in it’s image. The meme’s usage continues today, however like many things online, it’s popularity has already started to wane.
In late May, a video titled “Waluigi vs Luigi 1” popped up on YouTube, featuring Mario’s famous brother bearing a nasty scowl as he passed his doppelganger in the Wii U title Mario Kart 8. Several weeks later, another YouTuber, Czbwoi, posted a parody of the video with the Chamillionaire song “Ridin’” in the background. This video soon collected more than 400,000 views. The “Death Stare” has seen many other incarnations since, including parody gifs, Luigi’s face photoshopped onto other video game characters and whatever this is.
While what it means to be a memorable meme (try saying that seven times fast) is changing, there are still examples of traditional macros taking off in 2014. In October, Reddit user marky_mark30 posted a photo of a young boy standing next to a microwave with a partially-burnt container of ramen noodles inside. The image soon spurred a collection of similarly “minor” mistakes on top of the image, such as “Calls teacher ‘Mom’” and “Goes to gas station to fill up lawn mower, forgets gas can at home.”
This meme, unlike others on the list, was first established on Twitter with a popular hashtag. It featured many different images of happy (often bizarre) couples superimposed with the phrase “This could be us but you playin’.” Some funny variations have included “but you plain” in front of a picture of a sesame seed bagel and “I don’t have abs and you don’t exist” in front of a picture of an athletic man and woman.
At this year’s Academy Awards, Ellen DeGeneres shot a selfie with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Julia Roberts. The image hit Twitter shortly thereafter and parodies soon began flooding social media sites across the Internet.
Some of the funniest ones have included the “Doge Selfie,” one with all of the heads replaced with Ellen’s and a version featuring Pope Francis photoshopped into the original image.
What better way to mark the halfway point of our list than with the malfunctioning fifth Olympic ring from this year’s Winter Games?
The event was indicative of the whole mess that was the Sochi Olympics, complete with athletes getting trapped in their hotel rooms and hill conditions that made it nearly impossible for skiers and snowboarders to compete at a high level, among other major issues.
The Internet took the idea and ran with it, with creations featuring the fifth ring as the Internet Explorer icon, the YouTube buffer icon and other variations.
Possibly the most popular new macro of 2014 (at least if Reddit is any indication), the Awkward Moment Seal took off in the middle of the year and continues to stick around.
The meme was first created in April and featured a picture of a baby seal posted to the subreddit /r/awww with the caption “I always feel like the creepiest person when I do this.”
Popular variations have included “When you’re watching a movie and your parents walk in on the sex scene” and “When the high five was intended for the guy behind you.”
When the new trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” debuted in November, it immediately set the Internet abuzz.
Some people were elated by the new images, while others were less than thrilled with things like the new crossguard lightsaber design, but that didn’t keep folks online from putting their own clever spin on the new idea.
If anything the controversy spurred others to create even more parodies. Some of the best have included the “Swiss Army Knife” saber, the Christmas Tree saber and the Sith Pinwheel saber.
The Internet can be a weird, shallow place. So weird and shallow, in fact, that sometimes regular people can achieve online celebrity status for almost no reason other than being photographed while beautiful.
Such was the case with Alex from Target and the Handsome Mugshot guy, Jeremy Meeks.
While many questioned the sanity of making these two random people into Internet icons, they’ve got nothing on the person at the top of our list of “Best Memes of 2014” quite possibly the biggest star to have gotten famous for nothing at all.
While Kim Kardashian’s Paper Magazine cover did not, in fact, break the Internet, it did teach us a few important things.
We learned that “Paper Magazine” is a thing and it shoots photos of celebrities. We learned that Kim still has a great butt even after her pregnancy. Most importantly, however, we learned that the Internet still loves making fun of her.
Some of the funniest Kardashian butt parodies included a take on the photo with Pam from FX’s Archer, a fake cover featuring Ms. Potato Head and another replacing Kim’s butt with the title fruit from James and the Giant Peach. It seemed like every day someone would up the ante with another, even more ridiculous meme, making it the defining online in-joke of 2014.