The Best Memes 2022’s (So Far) Reflect Our Collective Irrationality
We return to the Best Memes 2021, our digital yearbook of embarrassment, as the year draws to a close. These are the events that, for better or worse, define our internet society. And, as with most lists, the memes make us wonder if we’re okay.
Of course, we use the term meme loosely when we use it: joke forms, online moments, and beloved dances. Anything that made us laugh so hard on the internet that we forgot about the awful world around us for a moment. While others may wave their fist at the heavens and declare that memes are simply stupid things on the internet, those of us in the know understand that each of these moments—these memes—are like small time capsules that serve as reminders of the year in which they were created.
Consider the year 2021. In the same year that Ben Affleck reconciled with Jennifer Lopez, he threw out his Ana de Armas cutout! We have an enraged Bernie wearing a mask during Joe Biden’s inauguration. There are pandemic memes aplenty, as well as individuals walking on milk crates. For God’s sake, we allow an elderly pug who just wants to lie down to define our daily attitude!
It’s a surreal take on life, but it’s still a reality. So let us recollect, or grimace as if we were looking through our senior yearbooks. 2021, thank you for the memories. I wish you a bone-chilling day.
Dance of the Water Under the Bridge (November)
Reply to @yeathatsrachell_ LMAOO omg this ate #fyp #xyzbca #viral
Adele has stated that she does not want to create songs only for the sake of going viral on TikTok. “What if I mashed up Adele’s ‘Water Under the Bridge’ with Megan Thee Stallion?” questioned one TikTok user. Well, guess what? On TikTok, the woman became viral. What resulted was a routine that definitively answered the question: how close can you get to Adele? Answer: it’s very fucking difficult.
Buses on the Happy/Sad Side (November)
— annie (@frequentpuker) November 18, 2021
Sometimes a meme isn’t even related to current events. It just so happened that someone thought of a way to make it relevant out of thin air. The “happy side/sad side bus” meme was born from this. It first debuted in mid-November and is still going strong.
The Pug’s Noodle (October)
Noodle, Noodle, Noodle. Kid, thank you for the memories. We say this ahead of time since Noodle is getting on in years, but he’s already provided us so much joy in 2021. Noodle’s owner stands him up, and if he flops back down, it’s a “no-bones day,” according to the videos he appears in. It’s a “bones day” if he stands. It’s well-liked, mocked, and widely circulated. Here’s to you having only skeleton days.
Warning Signs (October)
TEXT SLOW BUT ALWAYS ON SOCIAL MEDIA 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— PEGEE (@VH1PNUT___) October 12, 2021
There will be no red flags flying above my door, to quote Dido. Early this autumn, the red flags began to appear all over social media as nothing more than a warning. It’s great for the red flag emoji—every emoji deserves a day.
The Delta Variant vs. My Fall Plans (August)
my fall plans vs. the delta variant pic.twitter.com/Q2oL6BStpi
— alex (@alex_abads) August 9, 2021
You still find a way to build a meme around this epidemic 18 months later. God bless you for your fortitude. Also, please be responsible, as dewormers are still being used in some parts of the globe for the sake of immunity.
Challenge of the Milk Crate (August)
man this scene gets me every time I see it pic.twitter.com/fxbiN0z26A
— MattWillPost (@MattPostSaysHi) August 24, 2021
What began as a TikTok craze has evolved into a meme genre, and all we can say is that you guys need to quit stepping on milk crates. Please.
Family of Vin Diesel (July)
Vampires ain't got shit on Vin Diesel pic.twitter.com/FQ62jf8KwZ
— ⚡⚡ (@King2Wesley) July 5, 2021
With the release of F9, we were reminded that tough man Vin Diesel and his action-movie-turned-superhero-franchise aren’t just about explosions. Defeating the evil people, for example. It’s all about the automobiles and the family. That is not to be confused with family vehicles.
The Vibes of the Four French Dispatch (June)
pitch, first draft, final proof, comments section pic.twitter.com/4IFQgO0DB3
— Ferris Jabr (@ferrisjabr) July 14, 2021
You have to expect radically varied aesthetics when you cast wildly different characters in your film, right? That’s where this press shot of the actors of The French Dispatch, which the internet successfully made into a meme, lands. For us at Esquire, this one is particularly painful since the comments are a shambles.
Is that correct? (June)
B-52s “Rock Lobster” (1978) pic.twitter.com/cJaBBDL5ei
— Leprous Pizza™ (@TimDuffy) June 22, 2021
When we conjure up something from the past and repurpose it for the present, the finest memes emerge. Take, for example, the Anakin/Padme pairing we have here. The old (objectively rough) Star Wars iteration has reappeared and become quite the meme, right? Right?
“Cheugy” is the French word for “cheugy” (May)
I can't believe "cheugy" just means "basic"?
— Bolu Babalola (@BeeBabs) May 13, 2021
Maybe it’s just a matter of taste. Maybe it’s not even a meme. Perhaps the inclusion of “cheugy” on this list has made us cheugy. Nonetheless, when new generations arrive, the same notions get renamed. Cheugy is a Gen-Z phrase that simply indicates being a little behind the times when it comes to being hip. Jackets made of denim? Cheugy. Do you like to live, laugh, and tell jokes? Cheugy. You’re reading a list of memes, aren’t you? Maybe that’s cheugy as well.
After the Pandemic, You Can Be a Different Person (April)
“You Can Be A Different Person After The Pandemic” pic.twitter.com/2YSE3c2lMY
— Liam Gareau (@liamgareau) April 12, 2021
The internet erupted in laughter after The New York Times published an article with the heading “You Can Be a Different Person After the Pandemic.” Then you could only hear typing since it was the type of absurdist title that would make for great meme material. As Kristen Wiig points out, “I believe we remain the same, yet develop. Quite a bit.”
“Call Me By Your Name” by Lil Nas X (April)
#lilnasx #callmebyyourname #montero #fyp #foryou #comedy (IB: @thecutesthumanontiktok ✨)
The music video for Lil Nas X’s “Montero” is a goldmine for memes, and they’ve emerged on just about every social media platform, but TikTok truly mastered this one. Users all across the world have turned Lil Nas X’s pole dancing talents into one of the greatest meme forms of the year during his defiant fall to Hell.
Blunt Rotation in Dreams (April)
dream blunt rotation pic.twitter.com/JLJMbBF5uS
— ben mekler (@benmekler) April 8, 2021
The meme is self-explanatory, albeit if we’re nitpicking hairs, Michael isn’t the proper answer. There’s a lot of paranoia going around. There is just too much chatting going on. Replace him with Lottie, and sure, we agree with the lineup.
Oprah’s Interview with Harry and Meghan Markle (March)
2 hr movie 6 seasons of Sopranos pic.twitter.com/FwHeFdPof2
— Joseph Longo (@josephlongo_) March 12, 2021
It’s no surprise that one of the most viewed and notable interviews in recent memory resulted in one of the most famous memes of 2021. There were other instances that were turned into memes, but none were more memorable than pensive Oprah combined with “hold up” Oprah.
Beyonce performs at the Grammy Awards (March)
Beyoncé’s face is me on every Zoom call. pic.twitter.com/rBoI3S4T4P
— Danielle Pinnock (@bodycourage) March 15, 2021
Beyoncé’s few public appearances make her ideal meme fodder, and her expressive face is the ideal palette for conveying what we’re all experiencing. She’s being stopped before leaving the stage for the revelation that she’s become the most successful artist in Grammy history, but take it from her face: no one can stop Beyoncé.
Stimmy is a fictional character (March)
bank account: $1400
me to a girl scout: give me the thick mints
— Adam (@adamgreattweet) March 14, 2021
We’ve been dealing with the epidemic for over a year and all we can do is laugh. We don’t cry because of it. One of the most amusing memes to emerge from the crisis? The complex plans that we plebeians devised with the $1400 cheques that were due to arrive in our bank accounts this month. Gone are the days when you were broke. Please give us the entire globe. We have the financial means to do so.
Ships in the Suez Canal (March)
PUT IT BACK AND ADD ANOTHER SHIP! pic.twitter.com/t0pLFQWe1L
— Joshua Seth (@joshuaseth) March 29, 2021
The ship should have remained in port. Bring the ship back.
WandaVision Wink by Kathryn Hahn (March)
"I don't have legal authority to cancel student loans" pic.twitter.com/r0nxWJJEiI
— The Debt Collective (@StrikeDebt) March 2, 2021
Kathryn Hahn has already given us a lot this year, and now she’s back with one of the year’s most flexible memes. If you want to tell a lie, just take this screenshot and no one will be angry with you. Kathryn Hahn is calling! She’s giving you a wink! You’re complicit in the deception!
The Vaccine Deployment (March)
Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson pic.twitter.com/htKmotjUqB
— Liam Gareau (@liamgareau) March 2, 2021
We’re getting there, but in the meanwhile, celebrate our new favorite three by remembering some of the finest trios from the past, I suppose? We need to do something to keep ourselves entertained.
Muncher from Ghostbusters (February)
happy Monday gang — don’t forget to drink water today pic.twitter.com/pxISuLuWdk
— Bhald Bhaddie (@teejslipko) January 25, 2021
What else can I say? Take a look at him. Because Mucher is us, he’s the internet’s relatable buddy.
I’m not a feline (February)
2019: Sorry, I’m running late to work.
2020: Damn, I’m on mute.
2021: I am not a cat. pic.twitter.com/GuC4LHgzrf
— Tej Lalvani (@TejLalvani) February 10, 2021
Even after eleven months of quarantine and COVID-19 limitations, some people still don’t understand the subtleties of Zoom sessions. Cut to a hapless lawyer who couldn’t figure out how to avoid acting like a cat at a crucial meeting. Presidio County Attorney Rod Ponton was a cat for roughly half a minute, and thirty seconds felt like thirty years at the time.
Super Bowl Performance by The Weeknd (February)
— jacky (@JackWilliamRtF) February 8, 2021
You’re not alone in feeling dizzy while watching The Weeknd’s Super Bowl halftime act. The internet snapped screenshots of the celebrity and went to work even before his fun house, psychologically twisting performance concluded. Mr. Krabs, farewell. In town, there’s a new dizzy legend.
The Silhouette Competition (February)
Better together #fyp #foryou #silhouette #viral #couple @mattygilbert91
We’ve been imprisoned for far too long. The horniness of Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” as a sex-driven hymn has sprung out in this pseudo-NSFW meme. When the filter is applied and the clothing is removed, what begins as harmless standing around rapidly becomes into sexy time. Now is the time for everyone to take a cold shower.
Bernie is irritated (January)
— Daniel Nolen (@danielnolen) January 20, 2021
Senator Bernie Sanders, sitting alone on a folding chair with his distinctive pissed angry mug, was the first image. Put your mittens on. The concept of accountability has been engaged. People quickly identified with the atmosphere, ripped him out of the photograph, and began placing him in all kinds of scenarios. He may now live anywhere he wants, as grumpy as he was when he arrived.
Cutout of Ana de Armas (January)
A life-sized cardboard cutout of Ana de Armas from inside Ben Affleck’s residence was seen being thrown out into a trash can. (January 18, 2021) pic.twitter.com/4bxxDC97WZ
— Ana de Armas Updates (@ArmasUpdates) January 19, 2021
— Sophie Vershbow (@svershbow) January 20, 2021
It is truly a gift that gives and gives. On the same day that Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck announced their breakup, a photo set appeared online. Affleck had a full-sized cardboard cutout of his fiancée for some reason, and even worse, it appears he hired someone to throw it away for him. It was adored, accepted, and then Photoshopped to death on the internet. This one is likely to last the entire year. By the way, Dunkin’ excursions are no longer available.
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Shanty Tok is a fictional character created by Shanty Tok (January)
The Wellerman. #seashanty #sea #shanty #viral #singing #acoustic #pirate #new #original #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #singer #scottishsinger #scottish
Nathan Evans, a Scottish postman, kicked off January’s feel-good trend with a capella performance of “Wellerman” on his TikTok. It exploded popular in the following days, with more individuals duetting the original TikTok with their own versions of the song. The great aspect is that you may incorporate a variety of riffs. This is, possibly, the first time white culture has done something positive since the first sea shanties, hundreds of years ago.
Shanty Tok has provided some much-needed serenity in the midst of a month full of upheaval. Not to mention the genre’s victory: sea shanties have never been more popular on Google than they are now.