The Out-of-Touch Adults' Guide to Kid Culture: The Tiny Green Mall Wizard


Welcome to the first annual Memey awards, where the memes of the summer compete for the coveted title of “Meme of the Summer.”

I looked at every single meme posted on the internet over the last year and winnowed down 8 billion wannabes to arrive at the top three! But there can be only one winner of this prestigious honor that I made up a few minutes ago. 

And the winner is: 

The #1 meme of the summer: Tiny Green Mall Wizard

A Polish TikToker named Crawly captured the world’s imagination and the title “meme of the summer” this month by dressing up as a tiny green gnome and delighting/terrorizing people at shopping malls. It’s entirely a visual joke, so you need to click on one of the videos to get it

Crawly’s videos have become popular enough to inspire others to try to get into the act, and accounts of “knights” vowing to catch the little green fella have popped up. So has a “knights vs. gnomes” divide. As is the natural order of these things, the knight accounts are neither funny nor interesting and the knights vs. gnomes thing is painfully dull. It’s only a matter of time until a fast food company or energy drink does a stupid gnome-related thing and the joke becomes entirely played-out.

But until then, you gotta appreciate the work of Crawly. I looked through his feed and he actually honed his craft over the last couple years. His earlier videos have the “running around in a mall acting weird” part in place, and some got a lot of traffic, but they lean toward troubling or disturbing instead of funny. But the gnome eventually struck just the level of whimsy for it to break international. 

Runner-up meme of the summer: “۹۰s Sitcom when”

This little sub-genre of TikTok video began when @darealtaah posted a video labeled “۹۰s sitcom: the main antagonist was under the table the whole time and heard y’all whole plan,” in which he enacts the shot. But the genius part is using the perfect musical sting. In this case, from Family Matters to make the point. This led to imitations/tributes like this more poignant takes like “۹۰s sitcoms when the friend overhears them talking about him in the closet” and “in a 90s sitcom at the sleepover and your friends are trying cigarettes for the first time and you have to sneak away to go call your dad.”

Bronze medal summer meme: Mike Epps Dancing

A brief clip of Mike Epps in a blue suit dancing first appeared in Kendrick Lamar’s 2013 video “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.” It marinated for more than a decade and is now taking off. There’s videos that add captions like “Me n bro at his wedding knowing we gotta 2 man after” and videos of people imitating Epps’ moves in the video

Thank you for attending the first annual Memeys. There will be no glamorous afterparty.

Do you have “cousin face?” Also: What is cousin face?

Tiktoker Evie Barenberg recently identified a kind of face: cousin face. Like the name suggests, a person has “cousin face” if they look like someone’s cousin. As Evie puts it: “Last night I was introduced to a friend of friend, and I was like, ‘Have we met before? Because you look familiar.’ She was like, ‘that’s because I have cousin face … everyone’s always like, ‘you look like my cousin’ or ‘you look like my cousin’s cousin.’ The twist to the story: Evie herself has cousin face. She looks like my cousin for real. According to a commenter on Evie’s post, cousin face eventually becomes “generic actress face” around your 40s, so you can look forward to random people stopping you to say you look like different actresses.

Scrambled pancakes: innovation or abomination?

People online are weird about their food. Some people make up weird ways to alter foods that are fine as they are then smugly announce they’ve discovered the right way to make something. Then other people get weirdly angry about it and leave angry comments. Somehow, this results in assholes in Palo Alto making money.

Anyway, let’s talk about “scrambled pancakes.” 

Here’s how you make scrambled pancakes: Instead of pouring the pancake mix into a skillet and letting it form into a pancake like a normal person, you pour it in and mix it around like scrambled eggs and end up with pancake pellets. 

Archived chef started the controversy by showing off her recipe. It might not have made people so angry if they didn’t say everyone else was “making pancakes wrong.” Even though they ended the video with “psych—do not try this, it was not good,” many people didn’t seem to get far enough into it before rage-commenting things like, “this is a crime” and “who hurt you?” Whereas others said things like, “it’s actually good.” 

Viral video of the week: AI is ruining the internet

Youtuber Drew Gooden consistently posts entertaining comedy about popular culture, amusing videos like “I watched the endings of 10 terrible Christmas movies” and “I took Ninja’s Masterclass and it ruined my life.” This week’s viral video is amusing but also makes some interesting observations about artificial intelligence eating its own tail and sucking the internet down a hole from which it may never escape. AI art is “training” on other AI art, solidifying weird hands, extra limbs, and that glossy AI-style that is at once entirely bland and deeply unsettling. Bots are using social media to react to content created by other bots, who use that feedback to create content that’s even more appealing to bots. The only humans involved in the process are people who are falling for “get rich with AI” schemes and flooding the zone with crappy shit no one will ever buy while drowning out the people who are actually creating art that trains the AI. Anyway, it’s a good watch, especially the conclusion, in which Gooden proves his point by asking AI to write a funny ending to his YouTube video. Spoiler: It’s not funny at all.

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