The mass audience migration from print media to online media has resulted in a multifaceted shift in the way we communicate. One major form of communication between the younger demographic of internet users is the ‘meme’. A meme is a still image with text applied to it, holding some particular meaning to represent our daily lives, pet hates, or to stereotype particular people. There are more and more memes being made every day, but there are specific go-to images that the internet population has responded to, and circulate on a viral level.
The more popular memes have come into popularity through some other form of internet-based posts – usually a YouTube video or blog post made by the subject. Memes can now be created by any internet user to simply express a particular feeling, or make a comment about a part of pop-culture, society, or any other worldly issue. Websites like Meme Generator give people the ability to very quickly create their own memes and circulate them through Facebook, Instagram, or blog posting.
The ‘Overly Attached Girlfriend’ meme was one of the earliest memes to go viral, and is still used today to poke fun at girls who allegedly stalk their boyfriends. Laina Morris is the face behind the meme, and she made her internet fame through a mock video of Justin Bieber’s song ‘Boyfriend’.
As of September 2014 her internet channel has 1,181,000 subscribers and her video has over 126,600,000 views. Since the video went viral internet users have taken a screen shot of her face and created her as the Overly Attached Girlfriend meme.
“The day after I posted it, it hit a million views”, she said in an interview. “Justin Bieber’s manager sent a tweet out with a link to the video.” The meme created from the viral video has put Laina Morris on the world stage, all from a video made with a cheap webcam.
The Negative Effects
Laina Morris now makes enough money from YouTube advertisements to quit her job and live off that income alone. So what has the meme culture brought to other internet sensations? Blake Boston is the face behind the popular meme ‘Scumbag Steve’, which is widespread on the internet and used to make comments about people that internet users believe to be ‘scumbags’. Blake Boston also came into his meme fame through a YouTube video he and his friends created called Scumbag Steve. An internet user took the video and created a meme with a screenshot, and Scumbag Steve came to life.
Since the image of Blake went viral on the internet he has become the face of the quintessential scumbag, and is labelled that way. On many occasions Blake has spoken out against the misrepresentations of his personality, saying that he is a father, and that he is working hard to give her a good life.
“This harassment shit, it’s kind of fucked up. At the end of the day it feeds my fuel to my fire,” he said in a home interview.
Where are they now?
It seems that whether their rise to internet fame had positive or negative effects, the starts of internet memes are on the world stage whether they’d like to be or not. Memes are so widespread and connected to our culture now that it seems impossible to reverse what has been created. Laina Morris dedicates her time to making her followers aware of worthy charitable causes while still creating funny videos on the side, and Blake Boston is an aspiring hip hop artist living with his mother. There are hundreds of individuals who have made their way to internet fame whilst attempting to lead their normal lives in quiet. Social media has paved the way for internet fame and viral online content. Do you think that internet celebrities like Laina and Blake are deserving of the hype? Or are they just lucky that they struck the right chord with the online community?