This Day In Internet History – March 20, 2005: Chuck Norris Facts

Military.com

Powerful, rugged, virile, invincible.

These adjectives don’t even come close to describing the manliest beefcake to ever karate kick his way into our hearts, Mr. Carlos Ray “Chuck” Norris. Today, we celebrate Chuck Norris “facts” — a series of satirical and exaggerated claims designed to bust our guts and blow our minds about our favorite bearded action star.

Everyone knows at least one Chuck Norris fact, but did you know that the Chuck Norris Facts meme didn’t even start with Chuck Norris? It started with, believe it or not, Vin Diesel. In 2005, Diesel was the action star of the moment. However, on the Internet forum SomethingAwful, commenters vigorously debated whether he was worthy of the praise. According to The Daily Dot, “the forum members began attributing strange ‘facts’ to Diesel, funny but impossible feats of strength, intelligence, and prowess.”

On March 20, 2005, a Vin Diesel random fact generator was created, but Diesel just wasn’t a powerful enough figure in our culture’s imagination to merit the honor. It was a disaster, and only one person could save the day: Chuck Motherflippin’ Norris. When Diesel was replaced with Mr. Delta Force himself, the meme went berserk. Thirteen years later, it is legendary.

Let’s celebrate with some of our favorite Chuck Norris facts!

This Day In Internet History – Feb. 17, 2001: O RLY

Know Your Meme

Greetings, Internet historians! I am RLY excited to share today’s lesson with you.

Giphy

Yes, RLY! Today’s lesson involves an owl, some trolls, a computer virus, and Barbra Streisand — all wrapped up in the meme known as “O RLY.”

If you’re having trouble reading it, “O RLY” is an abbreviation of “Oh, really?”

 

A Brief History of O RLY

Seventeen years ago on this day, professional photographer John White published an image of a snowy owl looking, as he put it, “silly.” 

Why is the owl making that ludicrous face? According to White, it was cooling down after a particularly vigorous flight. It was panting, kind of like a dog.

Photograph by John White

White didn’t know it at the time, but the aviary subject of his photograph was destined for Internet stardom. Only, not for four more years.

In the meantime, it was 2001 — the era of online message boards. Yes, dark days — dark days, indeed. And what did people do on online message boards? They were sarcastic. They said dumb things to each other and responded with incredulity, saying things like “Ohhhhh, realllllly?” 

According to Know Your Meme, the phrase “O RLY” can be traced back to early 2003 on the forum of Something Awful, “where it was used as a deadpan response to anything you found doubtful, unimpressive or just plain dull.” I can’t think of any better adjectives to describe online message boards.

From the message boards of Something Awful, this is the first known instance of O RLY

Still, it wasn’t until 2005 that the O RLY retort found its soulmate in the image of John White’s snowy owl, on the imageboard website 4chan. That’s when an anonymous user overlaid the image with bold, white text, resulting in this gem:

Know Your Meme

Perhaps in part due to its simplicity, the O RLY image caught on with 4chan users instantly. They used it to respond sarcastically to posts not only on 4chan, but on multiple other forums, thus catalyzing its spread far and wide.

Over a short amount of time, the meme became synonymous with low-level trolling, and eventually spawned over 9,000 different iterations.

Some of the most popular O RLY versions are:

Gangsta Owl

Bodybuilding.com

O RLY Baby

Giphy

O’Reilly O RLY

Uncyclopedia

Two Controversies? O RLY?!

A couple of controversies involving O RLY led first to its ubiquitousness, then to its demise.

First Controversy: The Streisand Effect

When O RLY merchandise went on sale in 2005, photographer John White got a little miffed that he wasn’t receiving royalties. He decided to make his opinion known publicly. However, in the process of chastising popular bloggers for stealing his photograph, White found himself victim to the Barbra Streisand effect — by trying to censor the meme, he accidentally brought extra attention to it, thus making it more popular than ever.

Streisand effect aside, the craze didn’t last long. Why? My guess is, it had something to do with the virus.

Second Controversy: The Virus

In 2006, tons of computers got infected with a worm known as W32/Hoots-A. How did the virus work? Essentially, invasive malware sent pictures of the O RLY meme to the infected user’s printer, nonstop. Yeah, it’s fair to say people got pretty sick of it after that. Search queries for O RLY dropped to nearly zero within months.

Thus, the meme was over.

Still, it is used from time to time in today’s internet culture by people who want to come across as not only sarcastic, but extremely ironic. Kind of like a Nobel Laureate wearing a t-shirt that says “Jenius.”

TL;DR

What, you didn’t read all of that?

Giphy

Alright, you friggin’ slouch. Here are the main points, in recipe form:

  • Take one picture of exhausted owl
  • Stir in sarcastic message board users
  • Combine until meme
  • Bake with the heat of the photographer’s ire
  • Destroy it all with a virus

And, voilà! You’ve made an O RLY meme.

Okay, class. For homework tonight, think about how nothing represents internet culture better than loving something and then immediately hating it with the same fervor.

 

This Day In Internet History – Feb. 12, 2011: Deal With It

(Imgur/tycarnahan)

Alright, internet historians. Limber up because this one involves sport.

I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase “Deal with it.” It’s the ultimate three-worded slogan of dismissiveness. And it’s even better in sunglasses.

4GIFS.com

We’ll get into the origin of “Deal with it,” but that’s not what we’re celebrating today. No, this is the seven-year anniversary of when internet culture merged with one of America’s favorite traditions, poor sportsmanship.

The Incident

On Saturday, February 12, 2011, Ohio State University beat Wisconsin University in a basketball game. It happens, right? What occurred next was not so expected. The crowd swarmed the court. A demonstrative Wisconsin fan made his dissatisfaction known by spitting — yes, spitting — on OSU’s star freshman, Jared Sullinger. Come on, dude. That’s uncalled for!

But, apparently, Wisconsin team coach Bo Ryan didn’t think the saliva rocket was such a faux pas. In a press conference following the game, Ryan dismissed the incident, saying “All I know is, we won the game. Deal with it.”

Wisconsin’s expressive coach, Bo Ryan. | Giphy

You probably guessed that that wasn’t the end of it. Good job, detective! On March 7th, 2011, #DealWithIt became a trending topic on Twitter when Ohio State University fans flipped the script on Wisconsin’s home turf. The OSU student section displayed support for their basketball team with over 1,000 red embroidered towels that read “DEAL WITH IT.”

OSU’s “DEAL WITH IT” rags. | Know Your Meme

That day, Ohio State crushed Wisconsin, 93-65. In your face, Bo Ryan!

A Brief History of “Deal With It”

With the sports connection behind us, let’s explore the history of the phrase. In 2005, Matt Furie, creator of Feels Good Man, posted this gross webcomic.

Matt Furie’s webcomic, “Feels Good Man.” 2005 | MySpace

I don’t know if it’s worse to get spat on by a rival fan or farted at mid-meditation by a furry bipedal creature. You be the judge. (Side note: Matt Furie is the same artist who created Pepe the Frog, but he later killed the character off when he became synonymous with the alt-right.)

Not long after the comic was published, the “smug dog” animated GIF was posted on SomethingAwful, and the meme took life.

Matt Furie’s original “Deal with it” GIF | SomethingAwful

As the years passed, creative people posted many iterations of the meme, usually in GIF form.

Giphy

 

GIFAK.net

 

Photographer Chris Clanton made real-life GIFS

High School Musical’s Corbin Bleu made a conspicuously sunglasses-less music video. I do not recommend it.

And the most iconic version of the “Deal with it” meme? This dude casually cascading across a Slip ‘N Slide (with sunglasses added digitally in post). This one gets me every single time.

4GIFs.com

And there you go! I hope you learned a little something about sportsmanship, pop culture history, and silly GIFs today. Oh, you didn’t learn anything? Tough break, pal!

Speed Society

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!