Internet Memes try too Hard these days

Aug 8, 2008
Updated • Mar 2, 2011

Is it just me, or are internet memes trying to hard these days?

An internet meme refers to some kind of “catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person”. A few which I can think of off the top of my head are rickrolling, the ‘Fail Whale’ and references to ‘bitchmemes’. Many good memes seem to arise organically becoming part of the internet language without too much thought involved.

“Jump the shark” was one such phrase. It must be over 25 years old now, a meme which came out of early discussion boards and ended up becoming a mainstream term. It typically refers to a TV show or series which reached a peak in originality, creativity, popularity or as the New York Times describes it; “past its prime”.

“Nuke the fridge” is a brand new meme which was inspired by the recent Indiana Jones film in reference to the character hiding inside a fridge to survive a nuclear explosion.

According to the official nukethefridge website:

“Nuking the Fridge is a colloquialism used by U.S. Cinema critics and fans and has a meaning similar to jumping the shark.  It is used to denote the point in a movie or movie series at which the characters or plot veer into a ridiculous, out-of-the-ordinary storyline.  Films that have "nuked the fridge" are typically deemed to have passed their peak, since they have undergone too many changes to retain their initial appeal, and after this point critical fans often sense a noticeable decline in their quality.  It is considered as the movie equivalent of what Jumping the Shark means for television.

The term is an allusion to a scene in the 2008 film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull of the Indiana Jones series, when the title character Indiana Jones is literally hit by a atomic bomb blast while hiding inside a refrigerator in a desperate attempt to escape a nuclear test facility.  The fridge is hurled several miles through the sky, and tumbles hard to the ground.  The scene was considered so preposterous that many believed it to be an attempt at outdoing the over-the-top action of the classic introduction sequence of the series."

Since first appearing on the IMBD message boards there have been Facebook and MySpace pages, YouTube videos, T-Shirts, lots of publicity and everything else needed for a good internet meme.

Personally I think it’s such a totally lame way to try and enter popular culture, I’m sick of the phrase already and I’ve only heard it a couple times. Just let good catchphrases stick and don’t try too hard.

Let’s see if it’s round in 25 years time.


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  1. Dotan Cohen said on August 11, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Sharks with friggin’ lasers.

  2. GRTerrero said on August 9, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Transcontinental, I took up semiotics in college. Both of your points would make interesting research papers.

  3. Transcontinental said on August 8, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Using the right word has never been fancy, but inventing new ones is sometimes flashy, unless they survive : necessity is more than a fashion!

  4. Roman ShaRP said on August 8, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Preved forever ;)

  5. Josh said on August 8, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    @Transcontinental… why thank yew =P and Yea I agree, those things just pop up naturally, they don’t need a host of message board teenyboppers trying to push it along the path to immortality.

    @Rarst, haha actually it seems even George Lucas used the phrase once…

    @GRTerrero… diversification of language perhaps? otherwise life sure would be boring… =P

  6. GRTerrero said on August 8, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    I thinks the people that sit around coming up with terms like “meme” try too hard.

    Why not just “topic”? One letter too long?

    It’s all the meme to me.

  7. Rarst said on August 8, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I so can picture producer nagging “Who the hell needs budget for promoting that meme crap? Let’s blow one more car instead!” :)

  8. Transcontinental said on August 8, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    I was wondering if the memes that survive are not those which arise naturally, as a sort of common birth, as opposed to those which are only the attempt of an individual to procreate artificially …

    Interesting article, joshua, made me forget computing !

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