Hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson dig into the internet's vast and curious ecosystem of online communities to find untold histories, unsolved mysteries, and other jaw-dropping stories online and IRL.
MEMES, Part 10: Makmende
We know that there have been meme wars in America, and that Donald Trump has been called the “first president meme’d into office.” But in Kenya—a country where one of the only feasible forms of political expression is memes, and meme creators are being jailed for criticizing the government, it is a very different story. Western media told countless stories about the viral music video character known as “Makmende.” They called Makmende “The Kenyan Chuck Norris,” or a sound-alike of the famous Norris line, “Make my day.” But, according to the artists who brought Makmende into being, none of these characterizations are accurate. We explore American myopia, the peril of memes and artistic expression in Kenya, and how we should think of memes as a powerful form of communication.
MEMES, Bonus: The yearbook photo
For being the internet's poster boy for bad luck, Kyle Craven thinks he sure got lucky. In this bonus episode of our meme series, Ben and Amory chat with Craven, better known as the face of the Bad Luck Brian meme that has circulated the web since 2012. Now a 31-year-old husband and father of two, Craven is frozen in time online as a pimply, brace-faced teenager. Despite the unflattering photo, he says meme stardom has brought nothing but good luck.
MEMES, Part 9: I'm Not Done Yet
Anybody old enough to remember life before cutting the cord has probably seen the work of TV pitchman Billy Mays. But people much younger still know his face and squeaky OxiClean personality. While Mays died years ago, he’s lived on in meme form, from the famous product launches of Apple to more obvious image macros with Impact font. Why? We ask his son Billy Mays III, his biggest frenemy, and a host of others to explain why someone who was squarely in the age of television continues to appear online in strange and provocative ways. It’s the story of an American staple whose consumerist existence belies a personality that, in the end, was surprisingly wholesome.
MEMES, Part 8: The Scream
If you typed “inauguration” into your web browser anytime between 2017 and 2020, you likely saw, near the top of your search results, an image of a person in a neon green jacket, black winter hat and glasses screaming “Nooooooooooo!” That person was Jess, who was in Washington D.C. on January 20, 2017 to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump. This “Nooooooooooo!” flew out of Jess after the oath of office, during what seemed to be a deeply painful and private moment. But what Jess didn’t know at the time was that they were being filmed by a UK media outlet. Within hours, this became the scream heard ‘round the world, the meme seen ‘round the world, and a symbol of “liberal fragility” for Trump supporters. Fearing for their safety, Jess went into a sort of hiding – on social media, and in their personal life. Four years later, Jess tells their story for the very first time.
MEMES, Part 7: Dead Giveaway
In 2013, four white musicians turned a local TV news clip featuring a Black man named Charles Ramsey into a song and uploaded it to YouTube. The auto-tuned meme, titled "Dead Giveaway," gained tens of millions of views virtually overnight.
But the musicians, known as The Gregory Brothers, had not asked for Ramsey's permission, leaving him to wonder: Is this flattery or mockery — or bigotry?
Hallomeme Bonus: Slender Man
When two 12 year-old girls attacked their friend in the woods of Waukesha, Wisconsin in May of 2014, they claimed to have done it to please Slender Man -- a fictional monster created by Eric Knudsen, A.K.A. "Victor Surge," on an internet forum called "Something Awful." That incident put a mainstream, national news spotlight on the figure, which was already being widely circulated and adapted online as a meme.
In this bonus episode of Endless Thread's meme series, we examine Slender Man as monster, meme, and myth.
Regular episodes are great - short form could use some work.
Super fun show. I'm a regular reddit reader, but somehow the Endless Thread folks manage to turn up new and interesting corners of the site that I've never seen. I usually keep a couple episodes saved up so I have something fun to listen to on a bad day.
One small complaint - too many food based "snack" episodes. I don't mind short format/mini episodes. Obviously putting together full length episodes is a ton of work. However, I really can't stand the sounds of people eating. Junk food trends and "mysteries" do not make compelling content.
5 stars for the regular content; 3 stars for the short form content.
Personal political views- pushing through
I used to love this show! It’s becoming more and more politically driven. What happened?! It’s almost obsessive. I am not sure why the shift, Influence I suppose. I used to skip through those shows and the skips are getting more frequent. Unfortunate.
Please no more current events
This used to be a fun podcast deep diving into quirky and unusual stories found on Reddit. They’re now doing stories based on current events in the news. I get more than enough of that just walking around in everyday life. A disappointing shift in focus.