This Day In Internet History — January 23, 2012: Bad Luck Brian Blows Up

(Know Your Meme)

Six years ago on this day, a photo that was deemed “too bad of a picture for the high school yearbook” caught the attention of the Internet, where it has since resulted in, one assumes, at least a billion ROFLs.

This is the story of the meme called Bad Luck Brian.

The Main Event
On January 23rd, 2012, the picture of a gangly, ill-dressed sophomore was submitted to Reddit with the caption, “Takes driving test . . . gets first DUI.” The post wasn’t immediately a hit. It didn’t even receive 5 up votes.

The first ever Bad Luck Brian meme | Buzzfeed

But, like so much exquisite art, it inspired creativity in others. A few hours later, someone had recaptioned the photo, “Tries to stealthily fart in class . . . shits.” The pants-pooping joke caught a bit more traction than the DUI joke, receiving over 3,000 up votes.

KnowYourMeme

In March, meme-sharing website 9gag got ahold of Bad Luck Brian, where it finally blew up, garnering more than 48,000 likes in under 24 hours. In a matter of days, it was all over Pinterest, Buzzfeed, and Funny or Die.

MemeExplorer

The Internet absolutely loved memeing Bad Luck Brian with “embarrassing and tragic occurrences.” The image quickly became a template on Quickmeme, with over 100,000 interactions in just a few weeks. It was truly a meme for the people, by the people.

Smosh
The Rhetoric of Memes
MetalInjection.net

The Story Behind Bad Luck Brian
Who is Bad Luck Brian? And just how awkward is he, really? Bad Luck Brian is actually named Kyle Craven. He’s a full-grown man with a job in construction, a family, and a dog, living in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Surprising, huh? You thought he was just some dweeb in a picture who maybe crapped his pants in school, but no. He’s a real dude. And even more surprising? He’s not awkward at all.

Look, he’s a parent like you! | All-That-Is-Interesting

Craven says the yearbook photo was meant to be silly from the very beginning. “I took the picture as a joke back in the day,” Kyle tells All-That-Is-Interesting.com. “I didn’t really look that awful. I rubbed my eyes, made the goofy smile, wore the vest and all that.”

But his mischievousness rubbed the authorities the wrong way. The high school principal called him out of class to reprimand him for ruining his own yearbook photo. “She pulled me out of class and told me to go to retakes,” says Craven. Apparently, “it was too bad of a picture for the yearbook.”

It’s plain to see that Kyle has the spirit of a jokester. There’s enough evidence in place to believe his story about being in on the prank. Check out these silly photos from around the same time.

Alright, Kyle. We believe you. | All-That-Is-Interesting

Luckily, his friend, Ian, uncovered a copy of the rejected yearbook photo a few years later, in his early twenties. Realizing he had a gem on his hands, he uploaded it to the Web and called Kyle right away, reportedly telling him, “Hey man, no big deal, I just made you Internet famous.”

Good Luck, Brian
Kyle Craven is cool with internet fame. He’s even tried his hand at merchandising, but admits that T-shirts and stuffed dolls didn’t turn out to be the cash cows he had hoped. Ultimately, he has decided to just be satisfied with being a recognizable character online, while focusing on his job and family in real life.

He says his favorite versions of the Bad Luck Brian memes aren’t the poop references or crass jokes, but the ones that present a clever story with economical language. Here’s his number one:

QuickMeme

Let’s close it out with a quote from Kyle about the nature of celebrity in modern times.

“You think back 30 years ago to who was famous and they are movie stars or the president. [Younger generations] love social media and Internet content. It’s amazing how many younger people you talk to are talking about Instagramers and YouTubers. It’s broadening the category of being a celebrity today.”

(Quote from All-That-Is-Interesting.com.)

Happy anniversary, Bad Luck Brian!