What Ever Happened to that Internet Meme?

By Elisa Gabbert February 17, 2010 Comments: 2

Everybody loves an Internet meme. They come into our lives, entertain us and everyone we know for three minutes or so, and then as quickly they are gone. Some, of course, are more tenacious than others (ahem, Rickrolling).

Do you ever find yourself wondering what happened to that one guy in that one viral video? Wonder no more! I did the bare minimum of research to find out what some of our favorite Internet memes of the past few years have been doing with their lives since.

JK Wedding Dance

It was just six months ago that Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz's wedding dance video went viral on YouTube. It now has over 41 million views.

Where are they now? Presumably still in the throes of wedded bliss. In a recent update on the Today Show, Jill said, "It's going pretty well." Do they ever watch the video? Well, they're "both really busy." Man, what if these poor kids ever get divorced? They'll never live it down. They are really bearing the weight of America's hopes and dreams on their shoulders.

Anyway, the couple has since set up a website where visitors can donate to the Sheila Wellstone Institute for domestic violence—"due to the circumstances surrounding the song in our wedding video" ("Forever" by Chris Brown). Brilliant!

United Breaks Guitars

Another greatest hit from the summer of '09, "United Breaks Guitars" was Dave Carroll's way of getting back at United Airlines for damaging his luggage, to the tune (as it were) of $180 million in lost shareholder value, supposedly (seems suspect). What's he up to lately? According to his (rather self-congratulatory) website, he's a "sought-after public speaker" not to mention "modern-day folk hero"! He was the keynote speaker at the Right Now Technologies 2009 North American Summit and he spoke at a US Congressional Passenger's Bill of Rights Hearing ("a rare opportunity that most musicians never experience"!) His story is also being published as a case study by the Harvard School of Business. You go, Dave. It's great that "after two decades in the music business," one song made you an "instant phenomenon." (Wait, huh?)

Balloon Boy Dad

Richard Heene is probably one of the most hated fathers in America after pulling a hoax that had authorities and TV stations following a homemade balloon-UFO, which Heene's son Falcon was supposedly inside. As we all know it turned out little Falcon, AKA Balloon Boy, was "hiding" in the attic.

So what became of Balloon Boy Dad? He pled guilty to charges and was sentenced to 90 days in jail plus additional community service and four years of probation. Heene was recently let out on a 60-day work release. The silliest part is that BBD is sticking to his story—in January, he told Larry King that he only pled guilty to protect his family, but the incident was not a hoax. When King asked why Falcon told reporters, in an interview following the incident, "We did this for a show," Heene answered that Falcon hadn't been speaking English very long. (Insert "O RLY" owl.)

Chocolate Rain

Tay Zonday, nee Adam Nyerere Bahner, set the world on fire in 2007 with his original song and video "Chocolate Rain." The great thing about "Chocolate Rain" is that you only have to hear it once, or less than once, to have it stuck in your head for the rest of your life. The other great thing about it is that it spawned this parody:

So where is Tay now? Did he follow the drug-addled path of so many washed-up young stars? Doesn't look that way. He is still writing and recording original songs, he has an iPhone app, and he is on Twitter. His Twitter stream is pretty hilarious actually. He totally burned someone with this recent tweet: "OMG that joke is so 3 days old. We're talking like January." NICE. In other words, he seems to be doing fine.

William Hung

William Hung is the poster child for that age-old American tradition of pointing and laughing. In 2004, he wowed Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and the rest of the country with his amateur stylings on a rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs." Suffice it to say, he did not make it to the next round of American Idol, but he made it to the next round of life, gaining a cult following and appearing on a crapload of other shows including Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Entertainment Tonight. He ended up releasing several albums in 2004-05, including Hung for the Holidays.

So where is he now? Not dead! Can we say the same for his career? The latest news on his fan site is dated June 2008: "William Hung Participates in Celebrity Mahjong Charity Event in Hong Kong." I'm gonna say no.

Miss South Carolina Teen USA

Caitlin Upton: another idiot we all pointed and laughed at, but this time with boobs. Also, instead of singing and dancing, she answered a question about why so many Americans can't find the U.S. on a map with a bunch of garbled mumbo jumbo about education and "the Iraq" and then capped it off with a "for our children" for good measure.

Along with her boyfriend Brent Horne, Miss Upton is a cast member on the 16th season of The Amazing Race, so viewers will have umpteen more opportunities to point and laugh. (And it's all so ironic, because they have to race around the world, and she doesn't know much about maps. See?)

Chinese Backstreet Boys

Also known as the Back Dorm Boys, Wei Wei and Huang Yixin rose to fame in 2005 for their lip sync vids of Backstreet Boys songs. Their version of "I Want it That Way" (already one of the best songs of the '90s) is one of my favorite viral videos OF ALL TIME!!

The boys are now pretty much famous in China where they do regular ad spots and TV appearances. For further reading, I recommend the Google-translated version of their website for gems like "Lip-synching pop songs remade into the MV, video exaggerated movements and expressions Funny spectacle of himself, after reading the smile off their feet, is indeed the first combination of Comedy on campus." Indeed!

Creepy Chan

Allison Harvard earned mainstream recognition through her stint on America's Next Top Model; she was the runner up of the 12th cycle. But before she charmed American teens on TV, she charmed a whole different set of American teens on 4chan, where she was known as Creepy Chan and enjoyed meme status for her spooky, huge-eyed portraits involving dramatic makeup and fake blood—all the more bizarre given her adorable, squeaky-clean image on ANTM.

Creepy Chan Meme

What's she doing now? I really wanted to know the answer to this one, but she's pretty much disappeared from the public eye. Anyone got a hot tip? Allison Harvard, WHERE ARE YOU?




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Comments

Wednesday February 17, 2010

Richard (not verified) Said:

Memes, Phonemes, and Morphemes

Although meme sounded familiar I had to look it up in Wikipedia (A meme (pronounced /ˈmiːm/, rhyming with "cream"[1]) is a postulated unit of cultural ideas...).

Then I remembered classes in linguistics and discussions on phonemes and morphemes from years ago: units of segmental sound and units of semantic meaning, respectively.

Since we're discussing "units of thought" what would we call the building blocks of all Internet search activity? I suppose the phrase "keyword" is a start.

I can only imagine that Richard Dawkins who introduced the term "meme" in 1976 spent some time either in linguistic classes or nearby taverns where linguists drank a little and discussed language.

Wednesday February 17, 2010

Elisa Gabbert Said:

I spent some time in linguistics classes myself. :)

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