One could argue that 2016 was the year that the anarchic image board 4chan went truly, truly mainstream. Sure, the internet’s been swimming in the descendants of 4chan creations like lolcats and image macros for years, but those memes are mostly harmless — descendants of an earlier, somewhat less toxic web. This year, however, Pepe the Frog — Matt Furie’s nihilist slacker who pulls his pants all the way down at the urinal — went totally mainstream. He was adopted by white supremacists, rebuffed by none other than presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and endorsed via retweet by President-elect Donald J. Trump.
Pepe is old news though. He’s so 2016, already passé. The hunt is now on for the next mainstream 4chan monstrosity. 4chan memes that were once considered too risqué are now up for grabs, ready to emerge from their damp, dank, deep-web crawl space and soak in the limelight. We’ve opened Pandora’s box; these are the next terrible memes to go wide.
Of course it has to be Wojak. It was always going to be Wojak, who first emerged from Polish imageboard vichan under the filename “ciepła twarz.jpg” (translation: “warm face”). His look of empathy brought him his other name, Feels Guy, and he quickly became the face of the internet-meme phrase, “I know that feel, bro,” which just means “I get it.” He and Pepe soon began a platonic romance within the memescape — when Pepe would lament “Feels bad, man,” Wojak would be there to say, “I know that feel bro.”
As America attempts to bridge the political, social, and economic gaps that divide us, we must all learn to empathize. If we are to truly heal, we must know that feel.
Hypothetical scenario: @DeplorableBart tweets, “I voted for Trump but didn’t think he’d actually repeal Obamacare. I need that.” Then someone replies with an “I know that feel, bro” Wojak.
Rule 34 comes from a long list of so-called “Internet Rules” on 4chan, and it is the most famous one. It simply states, “If it exists, there is porn of it.” This is absolutely true, and anyone who has spent time on or adjacent to 4chan can vouch for it. Please take my word for it. Those of us who spend too much time online can even name the Rule 34 instance that solidified its incontestability (“frog and toad rule 34”).
In an election in which sexual humiliation (see: “cuck” or Trump’s “check out sex tape” tweet) was repeatedly weaponized, Rule 34 will be the next battlefield. The digital artists on Deviantart will feel more vital than ever, recruited to depict political, social, and cultural enemies performing all sorts of lascivious acts, which will then be tweeted out by political surrogates.
Hypothetical scenario: There are already drawings of Trump and Putin making out, so just imagine they’re doing some stuff below the belt, too.
This one’s pretty simple. A photo of rapper Rich Boy biting his lip on TRL is a classic reaction image for when one sees someone who is physically attractive, hence they say “’dat ass.” Our impending president — who owns a number of beauty pageants, spends a … concerning … amount of time complimenting his daughter’s looks, and has bragged about grabbing women by the pussy — has emboldened a new wave of abrasive, casual sexism online. Will ’Dat Ass, the meme for butt aficionados, rise to the occasion?
Hypothetical scenario: A Trump presidency also means Trump vacation pics, so we’ll definitely get to see him in a bathing suit. Fantastic.
This one’s a little out there but here’s how it works: photos of celebrities are edited to make all of their facial features very small relative to their actual head size. Then all of the vowels in that celeb’s name are replaced with the letter “O.” That’s a Woll Smoth. It’s funny! It’s a funny, discomfiting image that hits you on a visceral level, and it will be used to smear opponents left and right in 2017. Backed into a corner in an argument on Facebook? Hit them with a Woll Smoth.
Hypothetical scenario: A riled-up Sean Hannity gets into a war of words with SNL’s resident Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin, or in this case, Oloc Boldwon.
Shoop Da Whoop
Shoop Da Whoop is a meme about a funny cartoon face charging up a laser and then firing the laser from its mouth. The phrases “I’M A’ FIRIN’ MAH LAZER!!” and “I’M A’ CHARGIN’ MAH LAZER” are associated with the image. Shoop hasn’t been relevant in a few years, but thanks to a growing string of foreign-policy blunders and an explicit interest in nuclear rearmament from our president-elect, it seems like many leading global powers are thinking about charging their lasers. What better way to illustrate the countdown to Armageddon for a digital audience than by revisiting our old pal Shoop?
Hypothetical scenario: As the U.S. and Russia prepare to launch their ICBMs at each other, the Huffington Post posts and enormous full-bleed Shoop Da Whoop on their front page.
Stu Pickles making pudding
“It’s four o’clock in the morning. Why on earth are you making chocolate pudding?” DiDi asks her husband, Stu Pickles.
He deadpans: “Because I’ve lost control of my life.”
This one’s for all of the liberals out there, feeling hopeless and despondent as Inauguration Day draws near. Soon afterward, once the nuclear war destroys our society and reduces us to clans of hunter-gatherers, this meme will be for everyone else too. At this point, nothing will matter and everything will be for naught and we’ll all just be up at dawn making pudding on the stove, so to speak.
Hypothetical scenario: “It’s [eternal night]. Why on [our fractured] earth are you making [charred human stew]?”
“Because I’ve lost control of my life.”
This may sound defeatist but the only way to sink lower than a year in which Nazism and white nationalism were bigger than anyone anticipated is to bring Pedobear, the pedophile bear, into the mainstream. With the Pizzagate idiocy reaching ever-greater heights, 2017 is looking to be a breakout year for Pedobear. The internet was a mistake.