When you look back on 2012, what will be the things you remember most? If you spend as much time on the Internet as we do, it won’t be the world events, politics, or natural disasters that will stand out in your mind…it will be “Teh Interwebz” reaction to them and the memes that resulted. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of 20 of the most viral memes of 2012. Enjoy!
The U.S. 2012 Presidential election was all about memes—even Obama’s campaign jumped on the meme bandwagon with a cat meme designed to get out the vote in Ohio. The Presidential debates turned into a virtual meme-fest, spawning several of the most popular memes of the year.
Binders Full Of Women
In the October 16 Presidential debate, Mitt Romney inadvertently created one of the most popular memes of all time when he said that, as governor of Massachusetts, in a concerted effort to go out and find women for his cabinet, he received “binders full of women.” Within minutes, a new Twitter account, @RomneyBinders, had accrued over 30,000 followers and images were pouring in on Tumblr and beyond. Check out the original debate clip below.
At the Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood lambasted an empty chair and sparked the Invisible Obama meme, also known as Eastwooding. Posters of empty chairs, pictures of people lambasting empty chairs in their living room and other empty chair shenanigans took the web by storm. Even Obama got in on the action, with an image of himself sitting in “The President’s” chair with the caption “This seat’s taken.”
Fired Big Bird
Here’s another Mitt Romney-inspired meme. When Romney suggested cutting funding to PBS, despite the fact that he says “I love Big Bird,” the internet reacted in full force with the Fired Big Bird meme. Once again, even the Obama campaign took part, with the following Obama for America TV ad, which remains online despite a Sesame Workshop request to have it taken down.
Horses and Bayonets
In the final debate, Romney asserted that there are now less military ships than there were at the beginning of World War I. Obama retorted with, “we also have fewer horses and bayonets.” Of course, the Internet got to work right away working on images like the one below, care of knowyourmeme.com.
A few songs went insanely viral this year, overtaking YouTube with parodies and covers and pretty much holding the web hostage with their awesomeness.
This one really needs no introduction. Gangnam Style not only became the first YouTube video to surpass 1 billion views, but it also spawned tons and tons…and tons of YouTube parodies, covers and mashups. Oppa meme style!
Call Me Maybe
This year, Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe also made history as one of the most parodied, covered and lip-dubbed music videos of all time. Check out the clip below for a sampling and, if you’re in the mood for more, check out our list of Call Me Maybe Lip Dubs.
Somebody That I Used To Know
Before Call Me Maybe and Gangnam Style took over YouTube, Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know was the go-to track for YouTube covers and parodies, largely due to the viral spread of Walk off the Earth’s cover at the beginning of the year, in which five band members played the song on a single guitar. Check out the ultimate Somebody That I Used To Know mashup below, created by Gotye himself, and if you’re in the mood for more check out our list of 10 Awesome Gotye Somebody That I Used To Know Covers.
A couple of non-music specific video memes also took the web by storm in 2012.
Sh*t People Say
The Sh*t People Say meme was a spinoff of the popular Sh*t Girls Say web series that launched at the end of 2011, mocking the “sh*t” that “girls say”—you know, “does this outfit make me look fat?” that sorta thing. Similar videos about basically every group of people, from single girls to white girls, black girls, Asian girls, drunk girls, gay guys, vegans, folks in Silicon Valley and more began hitting YouTube. And then there’s my personal favorite—Sh*t Nobody Says.
Overly Attached Girlfriend
YouTuber wzr0713, who has been identified as 20-year old Laina Walker, became an overnight sensation after uploading ‘JB Fanvideo,’ a creepy parody of Justin Bieber’s ‘Girlfriend’, to YouTube as part of a Justin Bieber sing-off contest promoting his new perfume. Screenshots of Walker’s wide-eyed, insane, stalker girlfriend look, complete with quotes like “I sewed my name on your shirts in case you forget you’re taken” and “I was looking through your texts earlier…who’s Mom?” began taking the Internet by storm and Walker was given the name “Overly Attached Girlfriend.”
Overly Attached Girlfriend was a video-turned-photo meme. Here are some photos that became memes all on their own in 2012. Ehmagerd!
Did somebody say Ermagerd?! Meet Ermagerd girl, aslo known as Gersberms and Berks—a photo of a young girl holding Goosebumps books that originated on Reddit back in March with the caption “Just a book owners smile…” Redditor plantlife left a comment and linked to a new version of the photo with the caption “Gersberms / Mah fravrit berks” and the Gersberms meme was born! Don’t miss out on the ERMAGERD Translator, to translate your text into Ermagerd-speak!
Ridiculously Photogenic Guy
Here’s Zeddie Little, a dude that rose to Internet fame this year for being oh so ridiculously photogenic. A computer programmer, Will King, snapped a photo of runners at the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, South Carolina, which he uploaded to Flickr. One of King’s friend’s saw the image and dubbed Little as “Mr Ridiculously Photogenic” guy and a new meme was born.
It’s no surprise that this amazing photo went viral as soon as it hit Reddit back in September. It is probably the best vacation photo of all time! The image was posted as a response to another Photobombing Stingray meme that made its way to Reddit days before. Check out the original Photobombing Stingray and the awesomest vaca pic ever below and read the full story about the stingray image on HuffPo.
Tardar Sauce, aka “Tard,” has become one of the web’s most popular cats after his pictures were uploaded to Reddit in September of this year. Check out some adorable examples of this Grumpy McGrumperson, as featured on Know Your Meme, below.
Texts From Hillary
Texts From Hillary is a Tumblr blog based off of an image of Hillary Clinton sitting on a military aircraft, wearing sunglasses, texting and looking extra-specially badass. Two friends, Adam Smith and Stacy Lambe, created the Tumblr after seeing the image. They paired additional images and text with the photo and it began spreading like wildfire. So much so that Clinton herself got in on the game, submitting her own image and meeting with Adam and Stacy.
McKayla is NOT impressed
A photograph of gymnast McKayla Maroney looking unimpressed while standing on the podium to receive her silver medal made its way into meme world. The image of McKayla scowling was cut out and inserted into various situations, showing that she is unimpressed with everything from Kanye’s famous VMA speech to Hydrox cookies, NASA’s Mohawk guy (who we will check in on next), and an anteater eating cheez whiz..
The images have been compiled on a McKayla Is Not Impressed Tumblr blog. Following the viral spread of this meme, even President Obama got in on the action.
Nasa Mohawk guy
Over the summer when NASA livestreamed the landing of the Curiosity on Mars, Bobak Ferdowsi, a NASA engineer, caught the attention of everyone watching, thanks to his awesome mohawk. Ferdowsi was dubbed “NASA Mohawk Guy” and became an immediate Internet sensation.
Botched Ecce Homo Painting
The Botched Ecce Homo Painting meme, also known as “Potato Jesus,” stemmed from a botched attempt to restore an old painting by Spanish painter Elias Garcia Martinez. Amateur art restorer Cecilia Jimenez did her best to restore the old painting of Jesus, but it ended up looking more like a weird furry potato.
Images of the botched painting have been inserted into other famous artwork, movie scenes and more. You can find out more about the story on Know Your Meme.
This year dog lovers everywhere have giggled and guffawed, thanks to a new Tumblr practice called Dog Shaming. How does it work? Just take a picture of your dog with a note ratting them out for whatever disgusting or mischievous thing they’ve done…like peeing on the broom.
Chick-fil-A Same Sex Kiss Day
On August 3, in response to controversy over Chick-fil-A COO Dan Cathy reporting that he, and the company, opposed same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage supporters around the country headed to their local Chick-fil-A restaurants to partake in Same Sex Kiss Day. Photos of same sex couples kissing in front of Chick-fil-A poured into Facebook and Twitter.
The Chik-fil-A controversy also spawned a ton of other online content, from photos to videos. Even Antroine Dodson—one of 2010’s most famous meme personalities—got in on the action, uploading his own opinions about Chick-fil-A to YouTube.
iOS 6 Maps
When Apple released iOS 6, sans Google Maps and featuring a brand new in-house designed Maps application that just didn’t cut it, the Internet exploded with screenshots that showed just how bad the new Maps app was. One of our favorites, seen below, compares iOS Maps to the Botched Ecco Homo painting. Gotta love it!
Did your favorite 2012 meme make our list? If not, feel free to share it with us in the comments below!
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video expert here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.