Back in the Golden Age of the Internet, when social networks were called “Forums”, “Bulletin Boards”, “Usenet Groups” and “Community Portals”, when meme’s were called “Internet Phenomena” and were actually memes rather than photos with thick black margins and bold Times New Roman captions, and going viral meant just a million or so die-hard nerds on the interwebz were up on it, the ‘net had a higher density of quality hilarity which took countless hours of production in Paint Shop Pro, Macromedia Flash 3, Microsoft Paint, and other obscure, horrendous tools. There was no Facebook, no MySpace, no Twitter – for people to take the time to wait minutes loading useless crap, it had better be packed full of laughter, oddity, and plain disgust, and only the true charms were able to spread about in ways that are hardly impressive by today’s standards.
Leading the way in LOL’dom were sites like SomethingAwful, Fark, Newgrounds, and pre-Google Youtube, where crafty users worked hard to deliver rich stupidity at a rate that today’s Internet only reminisces upon. Today, we take a journey back in time to the good ole days, and examine some of the most trend-setting, bar-raising, chest-hurting gags imaginable to ever crawl down the phone lines and into our CRT‘s, exploring an array of formats and styles such as pictures, photos, animations, videos, and web-pages.
#10 - Luke’s Saber
Up first is “*ORIGINAL* Early Christmas Present Light Sabers Fat Guy“. This one actually isn’t old, but it offers an incredible insight into the neckbeardom of old, when fat, unsightly trolls lurked unrestrained in most of the online social channels – chat rooms, forums, online gaming services, and so forth. In this video, an obese and presumably retarded kid goes ape shit over his early Christmas present – two toy light sabers from Star Wars.
My guess is that Francis was once the proud, ambitious leader of a either a Counter Strike or Diablo II clan, until being sucked into the void that is World of Warcraft where he was able to discover his true self and let his colors fly. From a historical perspective, this is very important, because without understanding what the demographic of the “Old Internet” was like, there is little context in which the other items will make any sense. P.S. We are not making fun of Franics, but rather, we are making fun of the millions of Internet-lurking trolls who are exactly like him.
#9 – A Troll, His Guitar, and the Superbowl
I’m not positive, but YouTube probably owes much of its initial success to this guy, and this video particularly. Today, we know that Andy Milonakis is actually in his 30′s and suffers from an unfortunate hormone condition which stunted his growth terribly. At the time of this video, the world could not help but to burst in tears of joy watching what appeared to be a 12 year old kid ad-lib’ing a ridiculous song in which he vents his frustrations about his parents, society, video games and the NFL.
This video got fast success as every early-teen, pre-pubescent, acne-riddled nerd in town (read: the Internet) could relate to the uninhibited bursts of profane and meaningless douchebaggery and ironic, stream-of-consciousness style. We present to you, The Super Bowl is Gay by Andy Milonakis:
#8 – WTF?!
I probably could have used this title for any of our Top Ten old memes today, but this is the one that has no other alternate description. Inte Fan is a weird, low-quality flash movie that features a foreign song, an Israeli flag (interestingly the song doesn’t sound Hebrew at all, so no telling what this is about) and a moving photo of some unknown guy. The song is catchy and charged, but I really have no idea what this is about. I had to search a while to find this one, so savor it while it lasts, kids. I recall this passing around gaming forums and such, but I remember another version that featured a strange sequence of photos of some man and a woman dancing at what appeared to be a Bar Mitzvah or some other family ritual of a middle-eastern religion.
#7 – A Long, Strange Trip
#6 – Pure Badassness
Geeks love guns. Whether it’s their favorite killing mechanism in Counter Strike or Halo, the old piece of crap replica hanging over grandma’s fireplace, or the SIG yak they never should have gotten a hold of, guns make ‘em drool. The mechanical beauty and functional design, the fear inspiring ferocity and loud action, the gripping power and shiny metal… everything about guns is romanticized and absorbed by geeks. Much of it probably stems from issues with self-esteem and personal appearance. Fat Guy with Automatic Pistol is the name I give this one, in which a huge Mister Penguin lookin’ sonovabitch pops off 13 or so rounds in under a couple of seconds from his, obviously modified, Berreta pistola. It isn’t funny, it isn’t strange, it’s just cool. GANGSTER.
This video demonstrates how sometimes just plain awesome is all that is needed to earn your way in the ranks of Internet history, and this guy gets the Badass Badge of Honor for making geeks all over the world jealous as hell. P.S. DO NOT #@&$ WITH HIM.
#5 – Gonads and Strife
One of my all time personal favorites, Weeeeee! was the outcome of pure genius. Though brainless and eccentric on the surface, it is actually packed full of subtle intellect and hidden meaning, in such a sly way that only a person with a certain high level of wit can detect. Threebrain’s creations were at the forefront of such productions, in which profound social commentary and immense satire were delivered as ADHD-esque, zainy jumpy Flash animations and riddled with symbolism and iconography. This one sparked a revolution, and the rippling effects of its flagrant humor can be traced even to today’s modern meme’s – short, in-your-face captions, cute furry animals, squeaky voices and an overall bouncy mood.
#4 – Finding Love
With today’s social networks, online dating services, and classified sites like Craiglist, finding love online is about as common as finding a video or a tutorial. But when one young, early pioneer to the game of online dating didn’t have an accessible means to reach prospective lovers, he took matters into his own hands by making one of the most legendary and hysterical sites of all time. Hello My Future Girlfriend encapsulated every poor practice of web design – repeating, watermarked photo background, myriad inconsistent fonts and colors, centered text, and probably some animated gifs.
Smack dab in the middle of the page was the unfortunate photo of an eleven year old, poorly groomed boy with a rat tail mullet and huge lenses, accented by a rather creepy recording of himself speaking to his hopeful affection. All signs point to this being a direct inspiration for Napoleon Dynamite, with it’s forgotten-about-small-town-middle-America-cheap-and-tacky style.. on second thought, this was probably an inspiration for Gummo as well. Not surprisingly, Michael Blount, the creator, surfaced in a where-is-he-now interview in which he posted a video entitled Hello My Future Boyfriend.
Kudos to Michael for having a sense of humor and for gifting the webz with some of the most laughable, and frankly, disturbing content of all time.
#3 Remove Every Zig
Broken English and poor translations are a common source of humor which is often meme-ified. People find humor in word play, and with 1337Sp34k to LOLtalk to Engrish and Spanglish, there’s an infinite source of broken phrases and misused words to poke fun at. Probably the originator of meme-ifying peculiar langauge is All Your Base Are Belong To Us. When [poorly] translated from Japanese to English for Sega Master Drive in 1991, the game Zero Wing provided not only a slew of nonsensical phrases, but an intense and emotional animated segment which provided a superb context from which endless jokes may be derived.
If I’m not mistaken, it was the SomethingAwful forum Goons who got hold of the phrase and made an astonishing portion of edited photos with references to the phrases “All Your Base Are Belong to Us”, “You Set Us Up the Bomb”, and “Remove Every Zig”. The terms went really viral after a song was made out of it (Invasion of the Gabber Robots by Laziest Men on Mars) and used as the soundtrack in a compilation Flash video made by BAD_CRC et. all.
Not only does the All Your Base Are Belong to Us phenomena capture the common role of linguistics in memes, but it also represents one of the early viral Flash animations and the trend of repeated references in multiple media and multiple contexts, as the phrase was referenced in radio, television, and even on the YouTube front page.
#2 – Colors and Fat Wobbly Creatures
If you don’t know Teletubbies, you’re either too old or too young to relate to a critical generation which was born in the late 80′s to mid 90′s and placed immediately into an experimental program that made use of flashy, colorful, trance-inducing images and minimal dialogue known as Children’s Television. Perhaps the themes of Barney the Dinosaur were too advanced, or maybe having a babies face inside of the sun was just too cool to pass up, but either way, Teletubbies embraced the notion of WTFness by creating a series that was completely about nothing, and yet kids knew everything about it. With fat baby-like monsters running around in some grassy-hill scene from an acid flashback and watching videos on their stomachs, Teletubbies became a staple in the lives of 2 to 8 year olds all over.
Behind the mask of innocence was a complex subliminal mind-rape of creepy and frightening symbolism and eerie suggestive behavior which needed to be exposed. Enter Newgrounds Assassin and the Telebubby Funland featuring Stinky Winky, Dipshit, Lah-Lah and Pojo. This was not only a chest-aching parody (at least for 12 year olds) of the Teletubbies series which brought to foreground the hidden messages of Teletubbies, but it was also the seed of a critically important branch of Internet history – Flash games, particularly violent ones. Pushing the boundaries of Flash 3/4 were the content creators at Newgrounds who released violent gore after violent gore exploiting the weaknesses of every teeny bop celebrity and annoying pop-culture icon around.
While Telebubbies itself was not singularly as viral as some of the lower ranked memes (though quite popular), it is the cornerstone of a long-lived and much celebrated format, and one of the flagship creations of Newgrounds, whose collection of videos and games set a standard for online creativity. Stickdeath.com, Yahoo Games, and many more owe some homage to Newgrounds for its widespread influence on the web. For that, we give them #2.
#1 - Indescribable Disgust
Before Rick Rolling and trolling, before kids got “punk’d”, before there were Trojan horse files and DDoS attacks (well not really), there was only one necessary form of sabotage on the Internet, which remains to be the greatest – Goatse. You know Goatse, and you remember the pain that shot through your eyes and straight into the deepest and most precious, irrecoverable annals (pun intended) of your long term memory on the day you first encountered it, so that it may haunt you to this day.
Once you got goatse’d, there was only one way to remedy yourself of the zombie-bite mockery you were in – send it to everyone you know, so that they may experience the pain with you. Not only was was it terribly disgusting in a time before the shock value of 2 Girls 1 Cup and Fecal Japan wore off, but Goatse is what I believe to be the first important mainstream meme from the old Internet. Fan sites, spin-offs, parodies, multimedia references, recreations, lawsuits, and petitions were just some of the by-products of this incredible Internet phenomenon. Numerous attempts have been made to preserve it, document it, explain it, investigate it and justify it so that future generations may understand and continue the chronicle (that is, after we goatse the crap out of them.)
Google it yourself at your own risk, on your own time. And to that mysterious man in the photo, whose gaping asshole has been the source of endless laughter at the expense of others, we love you.