Who gets credit for starting a meme? Usually... nobody -- they're made too quickly and organically. In the case of one of the most famous bait-and-switch memes of all time, the "Rick Roll," we may be looking at something experts call convergent evolution. Did the Rick Roll originate with a piece of code on the message board 4Chan, or with a prank call to a local sports show in Michigan? And why does the Rick Roll have such staying power? Is it codified in the DNA of the song itself?
We explore the meme’s origin, the history of the song, "Never Gonna Give You Up," and its impact on both internet users during COVID-19 and on the performer himself.
Mais episódios de "Endless Thread"
MEMES, Pt. 4: Woman Yelling at a Cat
41:27Humor is a key ingredient of any unit of culture that morphs and spreads over time. But humor isn’t always there at the beginning. For “Real Housewife” Taylor Armstrong, the meme that made her even more famous on the internet has bitter roots: physical domestic abuse exposed on television. In this episode, we hear the little-known origin story of the "Woman Yelling at a Cat" meme -- straight from the Woman herself -- that might make you think twice about ever using the meme again. We also explore why a loss of context is crucial for the spread of memes, but often problematic.
MEMES, Bonus: A Billion Ricks
19:06Last week, we explored the origin of the “Rick Roll,” a meme that evolved from Rick Astley’s 1987 hit song, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Since the music video resurfaced as the meme in 2007, the internet has also never given up on Rick – so much so that the video recently hit a billion views on YouTube. This bonus episode dives deeper into Rick’s childhood, how he was discovered, and how he dealt with not only his fame in the late 80s, but with his more complicated identity as a meme.
MEMES, Pt. 3: Gotta Make You Understand
42:06Who gets credit for starting a meme? Usually... nobody -- they're made too quickly and organically. In the case of one of the most famous bait-and-switch memes of all time, the "Rick Roll," we may be looking at something experts call convergent evolution. Did the Rick Roll originate with a piece of code on the message board 4Chan, or with a prank call to a local sports show in Michigan? And why does the Rick Roll have such staying power? Is it codified in the DNA of the song itself? We explore the meme’s origin, the history of the song, "Never Gonna Give You Up," and its impact on both internet users during COVID-19 and on the performer himself.
MEMES, Pt. 2: Scumbag Steve
40:12If there is an OG meme in which a human is the star, Scumbag Steve is it. He spread across the internet like wildfire in 2011 as a universal representation of dudes who are the worst. And, like any person grappling with immediate internet fame, Blake Boston — the man behind Scumbag Steve — tried to capitalize: merch, rap songs, public appearances. But the full story of what happened to Blake — and his family — has never been told. The Scumbag Steve meme became a bargaining chip in a custody battle, a complicating factor in meeting his birth mother, the cause of fights with extended family members, a source of anxiety attacks, and an echo of trauma. In this episode, we go past the origin story of Scumbag Steve and learn about Blake’s real struggles with PTSD and abuse — and how trauma has brought him and his mother, Susan Boston, even closer.
Is 'Kilroy Was Here' the original meme?
36:05We often think of memes as living solely online. But the term “meme” was coined in the 1970s -- before the birth of the internet -- by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. And, more surprisingly, the image that's often considered to "the first meme" appeared as early as the 1940s. A figure with a bulbous head and sausage fingers, peering over a wall, mysteriously popped up all over the globe during World War II, accompanied with three simple words: “Kilroy Was Here.” The phrase’s original meaning may come from the belly of warships, but what it came to represent bears many characteristics of a true-blue internet meme. In the first episode of our meme series, we tell the story of where "Kilroy Was Here" came from, how it spread, and what it tells us about the essence of memes.
Coming October 1st... MEMES!
2:34On October 1st, Endless Thread is back. We're kicking things off with a deep exploration into something that has changed lives, politics, and the way we interact online and IRL... memes!
Snacktime: Why You Should Care About Other People
18:21Ben tells Amory about a controversial idea for a reality TV show. Amory tells Ben about the thing Dr. Anthony Fauci did NOT say... but everyone thinks he did.
Snacktime: Mystery Celebs & Fed-Up Mods
21:58Ben tells Amory about a subreddit trying to determine the identity of a mystery celebrity, and Amory tells Ben about an open letter penned by Reddit moderators that's calling on the platform to take stronger action against COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation on the platform.
Suitcases of Cash and Bob Saget's Ghost
14:09Gather round for this week’s Snacktime episode, where Ben tells iLab producer Nora Saks two stories about found money, a gambling ruse in a Belizean casino, and why Bob Saget would block himself on Twitter if he could.
44:18What is Geedis? Endless Thread revisits an episode from 2019 in which the team joined the internet's two-year-long quest to answer this question. The strange, furry character and his buddies in The Land of Ta had been a mystery of 80’s fantastical proportions. Follow us down the rabbit hole for an exciting discovery...