Here, on the Day of the Dead, it’s time to remember those who were once briefly (if inexplicably) popular, but which have now largely passed from our consciousness.
I’m speaking, of course, of dead memes.
Once they roamed wild and free across the Internet, but now these memes are largely dead in popular culture. Consider this a Whitman’s Sampler of the once-popular memes.
The Dancing Baby
This computer-generated dancing baby was one of the first Internet memes, so popular it evidently showed up on an episode of
Single Female Lawyer Ally McBeal. (Kids: Ask your parents what an “Ally McBeal” was.)
Mahir (I Kiss You!!!!)
In the early days of the Internet, people started putting up home pages willy-nilly with only a basic understanding of HTML and little-to-no taste or guiding aesthetics. It was a different era, when Geocities roamed the land.
Into this era stumbled Mahir Cagri, a Turkish man with diverse interests and a shaky grasp of English. “I like music , I have many many musicenstrumans my home I can play. I like sex.”
If you had an email address in 1999, chances are pretty good someone forwarded you Mahir’s page…
Basically rows of animated gifs of cartoon hamsters dancing to a silly, sped-up song. There were many offshoots and parody pages as well. I remember an “Objectivist Dance” page with animated dollar signs…
Bert is Evil
A website that claims Sesame Street‘s Bert is an agent of historical calumny, and has the photoshops to prove it.
Briefly flared into worldwide consciousness after 9/11 when radical Muslims incorporated an image of Bert with Osama Bin laden into a street sign supporting the terrorist.
All Your Base
Are belong to us.
A Japanese plush mascot chasing a kitten in divine retribution for your Onanistic sins.
Badger Badger Badger
A short animation of badgers, mushrooms, and snakes set to self-referential music, in an infinite loop. The surrealist Internet hit of 2003.
David After the Dentist
Woozy little kid gets filmed after dental surgery. Hilarity ensues.
Teenage girl makes video. 4Chan gets hold of video. Flamewar so epic that 4Chan grinds to halt ensues.
So look on these dead memes, ye mighty lolcats and ponies, and know that one day you too will pass into obscurity…
See also: Charles Mackay’ Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds