Ten Unforgettable Web Memes
Cats and failures highlight this list of the memes that have gone mainstream. Which ones did we miss?
- By Megan Gambino, Ryan R. Reed, Jesse Rhodes and Brian Wolly
- Smithsonian.com, April 18, 2011
After you’ve plastered the word FAIL over an amusing photograph, the clear next step is take a video pratfall and append the “keyboard cat” to the end. In 1986, performance artist Charlie Schmidt videotaped his pet cat Fatso “playing” a silly ditty on a keyboard and dumped it onto YouTube in 2007. Brad O’Farrell discovered the video in February 2009, used it for a mashup of his own, starting the meme “Play him off, keyboard cat.” Its usage is similar to the premise of “The Gong Show” or the vaudevillian “giving the hook” cliché – end the audience’s (and performers’) misery with a final authoritative action. Since her virtuoso performance went viral, Fatso has played off Stephen Colbert, Glenn Beck, Miss Teen South Carolina, and other entertainment stars. -- BW