Meme Project (REVISED)
For my meme project I chose “The Most Interesting Man In The World.” This meme is one of the most popular memes on the internet, ranking as the fifth most popular meme on the internet, and earning the title of “God Tier” by memegenerator.net. This meme was first introduced after internet users watched an advertising campaign by Dos Equis in 2006. This advertising campaign, created by Euro RSCG Worldwide, “starred American actor Jonathan Goldsmith as ‘the most interesting man’ with narration by Will Lyman, best known for his narrating role in the public affairs TV program Frontline” (knowyourmeme). In each advertisement, Will Lyman would list interesting things that Jonathan Goldsmith’s character has done, and then at the end of the commercial, Jonathan Goldsmith says “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis,” followed by “stay thirsty, my friends.” From this setting, a still image of Jonathan Goldsmith’s character sitting in front of a Dos Equis bottle was transformed into a very popular meme in early 2010. The meme’s caption is designed as follows: “I don’t always do X, but when I do, I Y.” In this template, “I don’t always do X” is the top line, and “but when I do, I Y” is the bottom caption. However, like all memes, this template can be broken and used as a meme itself.
I chose “The Most Interesting Man In The World” because it is one of my favorite memes and it’s interesting to analyze. It was not created as a meme, it was created as an advertisement, which I believe makes it more exciting than say, “Y U NO” guy, which was created from an obscure comic reference and “carefree grammar” (knowyourmeme). The obscurity of “Y U NO” reduces the audience’s ability to relate to the meme, whereas “The Most Interesting Man In The World” is created from an extremely mainstream advertisement that almost anyone who watches television is familiar with. Relating to the audience is important because it transforms a meme from a carefree choice of grammar into a relevant and emotionally compelling reference to a familiar idea. Additionally, Mr. Interesting over here has a nice caption template and a sarcastic tone that appeals greatly, but that’s more of a bonus.
This sarcastic tone is important in understanding the kinds of messages the meme tries to send. For starters, this meme, like most internet memes, is meant to be humorous. If you aren’t at least amused after reading derivations of this meme, it is an invalid derivation, even if it uses the template correctly. Additionally, this meme is meant to be ironic. “I don’t always do X, but when I do, I Y” can be rephrased as “Whenever I X, I Y.” As these two sentences are equivalent, either both of them will be funny, or neither will. If you look as the second sentence, it is easy to see that the only way that statement can be humorous is if sarcasm and irony are used to choose an X and Y that either a) you wouldn’t normally associate together, or b) is very relatable to you. For example, my memes about meat and music are both very relatable, but to different overlapping audiences. On the other hand, my meme about this project works because it’s bizarre to think about turning in a project late and making a meme for your professor about it. This audience may seem limited because very few students have turned in an assignment late and then made a meme about it, but relating to your audience isn’t exclusively limited to appealing to experience. For example, movies such as Braveheart and WallE are very relatable to their audiences, but none of their viewers lived in Europe 1000 years ago or are an intergalactic robot. It seems like many students could appreciate the irony of joking about late assignments.
As you can see, audience is an extremely important consideration when creating or describing a meme. First of all, my audience is limited to English speaking people. I admit this is obvious, but it is always an important factor to consider. Also, an internet meme’s audience is immediately limited by the nature of internet memes. If someone doesn’t know what a meme is, most if not all memes won’t make much sense to them. Additionally, anyone who doesn’t know “The Most Interesting Man In The World” will be excluded from my audience because they are unfamiliar with the image macro. Without knowledge of the caption template, some of the meaning will be lost. These considerations give us the maximum audience for a “The Most Interesting Man In The World” meme. Now each meme will have a different audience. Let’s start with the meat example. This meme probably has the smallest audience of the three memes, because I am referencing a feeling about Notre Dame in particular. During Lent at Notre Dame, there is no meat served in the dining halls. Because dining halls are almost the exclusive source of a student’s food while on campus, meat consumption is usually zero on these days. So Notre Dame students who happen to have craved meat during one of these Fridays are the audience for this meme. The music meme is much more universal, because I’m pretty sure anyone who listens to music knows how it feels to forget the name of a song you like. So this audience would be pretty close to everyone who understands the meme. Finally, the project meme doesn’t depend solely on relating to the audience, but the audience still has to understand the context of the situation. So the audience of this would be anyone who both understands the structure of the meme and has turned in a project late.
My three memes of “The Most Interesting Man In The World” are diverse and serve as an example of the important considerations to take into account when creating any type of meme. Audience is the biggest factor to think about, because the relevance of a meme to its viewers is the primary determinate of its reception. Memes are meant to be humorous, so a meme that fails to connect with its audience will always fall flat. For my particular meme, sarcasm and irony are the primary conduits through which humor is conveyed to the viewers. From a lowly television advertisement seven years ago, Dos Equis inadvertently created an internet sensation that shows no signs of stopping soon.