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Memes Hit Primetime

Don't look now, but internet culture is spilling into traditional media.

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Memes Hit Primetime
Official White House photo

When the President of the United States knows about your meme, you know that you have arrived.

Such was the case when U.S. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney visited the white house in November 2012, and instead of the traditional meet and greet with the President, Maroney found herself posing for a very funny photo with the Commander and Chief himself. President Obama, stating that posing with the young gymnast with the infamous scowl would give him credibility with his two daughters, even mimicked Maroney's facial expression for the picture.

At long last, the memes that make us laugh online have been legitimized by one of the most important people in the world. Quite simply, memes have hit primetime, people, and here's why that's awesome.

A New Approach

Popular culture and media tyically originate from traditional media sources and then make their way online, where they go viral. A great example of this situation is the Old Spice ads from 2010. The ads, which featured very witty humor writing (and an extremely handsome man in a towel) debuted during the Super Bowl and were subsequently uploaded to YouTube, where they immediately went viral. Suddenly ads for deodorant and cologne were spreading through the net like wildfire, and just like that, a new meme was born.

Another good example: After actor Clint Eastwood spoke to an empty chair on live television during the Republican National Convention in 2012, it took no time at all for the people of the internet to dub it "Eastwooding." Web users took to their computers and started Photoshopping like crazy, and bam! Another meme took flight.

This is the standard method of internet vitality. Ads, videos, music videos, and comedy sketches start off on television and then make their way to the internet. Now, however, we are seeing more and more examples of web-generated content and pop culture creeping onto television and other traditional media outlets.

The Internet Calls The Shots

These changes are already underway. Early in 2012, a Canadian production company announced plans to create a sitcom based on the hilarious Honey Badger meme. A little blog and Twitter account called Sh*t My Dad Says managed to snag two book deals and its own sitcom adaptation, staring William Shatner.

I Can Haz TV Show?
Perhaps the most obvious example of memes taking over television comes to us from one of the largest internet humor networks online, the Cheezburger Network. In November 2012, a reality show called LOLwork, featuring the behind-the-scenes work lives of Cheezburger staffers, will air on Bravo. Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh sums up this shift in content origins in an interview with Wired, stating, "Internet culture is currently a subset, but as it grows it’ll be indistinguishable from popular culture."

Web Humor Is Taking Over!

Quite simply, the people have spoken. Instead of relying on Neilsen ratings to determine what viewers want to watch on television, producers are looking online and seeing what makes people laugh. Web humor is fertile ground, and memes are ripe for the picking.

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