Little Miss Viral Meme: The rise and fall of the latest ‘remix meme’ – Grid
Small Miss Iron Deficiency. Mr. Sexually Confused. Little Miss A Little Too Obsessed With Stranger Things. Mr. Mommy Issues. Small Miss Seasonal Depression. Sound familiar? If not, you’ve missed the Little Miss/Mr. Men meme wave — which probably makes you Little Miss Spends A Healthy Amount Of Time On Social Media.
The latest meme trend: people using cartoon characters popular with Gen-Z plus millennials to share personal anecdotes — ranging from lightly self-deprecating (Mr. Uses Big Words Incorrectly) in order to hilariously overspecific (Little Skip Buys Journals For The Aesthetic But Never Writes In Them) to implications of deeper struggles (Mr. Emotionally Unavailable).
“I find some of these posts in order to be earnest ways associated with expressing very hyper-specific trauma or emotion that most likely can’t be talked about another way, ” said Jamie Cohen, an assistant professor of media studies at CUNY Queens College and self-identifying “Mr. Overwhelmed. ”
The memes first started gaining traction on Twitter, Tumblr plus Discord around April, and their origin is often credited to @juulpuppy, a good Instagram account known for sharing original memes.
But what is it about these types of memes — repurposed through the Mister. Men plus Little Miss brand of children’s books and, more recently, TV show — that made them so popular so quickly? It’s easy to customize, said Cohen. Classified as a “remix meme, ” it uses a format that allows anyone with basic editing skills to turn the meme into something self-referential.
No advanced Photoshopping skills are required, said Yasemin Beykont, a doctoral student in Pennsylvania State University who researches new media plus meme culture when she isn’t being “Little Skip Procrastinator, ” she stated. It’s simple to keep the cartoon character and change the particular text.
Remix memes have always been popular, but they emerged as major players in the digital zeitgeist during the pandemic, Beykont mentioned. During that particularly murky era of unknowns, hall-of-fame screen-time numbers and extreme amounts of indoor time on couches, the particular format became both a language of self-expression and a coping mechanism to connect with others while discussing vulnerabilities.
“All memes are a form of sense-making [a way for people to deal with their emotions] in one way or an additional, ” Cohen said. “They’re about trying to take a bigger idea that’s a little less comprehensible and make it into something replicable plus shareable. ”
This is actually what the original Small Miss and Mr. Men stories set out to accomplish. The particular cutesy, amorphous characters helped kids process larger emotions and more abstract concepts and ideas. The very first Mr. Man — Mr. Tickle — sought to answer the question: “What does the tickle look like? ” Subsequent figures embraced charming takes upon a variety of traits: Mr. Adventure, Little Miss Brave, Mister. Muddle, Little Miss Curious.
The nostalgia the characters generate, especially for Gen-Z and millennials who grew up throughout the series’ heyday, evokes memories of a simpler childhood (a common thread within popular remix memes, such as the particular recent “ We need an American Girl doll who ___ ” trend).
Tapping into this comfort and shared memory, Cohen said, is one reason why people are able to use the meme in order to reconcile plus vocalize their present conditions — some of which are quite sensitive and draw attention to issues that are taboo subjects associated with conversation in real life.
“This will be a sweet way of getting the public to be part of a larger conversation about a hyper-specific neurosis, so in order to speak, or divergence, that people might want somebody to know in terms of vocabulary. ”
When the meme like this goes viral, the digital format becomes so familiar and ubiquitous that we hesitate less in posting our own feelings plus experiences online.
Looking at the particular larger picture, the fact that individuals are successfully meme-ing original character types with modern vernacular, context and hyper-specific references, Cohen said, shows two things: the uniqueness of this trend and the power of remix memes in order to reshape tradition — even established stories that have been close to for a half-century. “When we’ve reached the point where we’re able to tell a story along with a meme, it’s above and beyond our lifestyle, ” he added.
How popular memes die
But this particular influence is usually a double-edged sword, one wielded by many different on the internet actors plus according to a very specific timeline that all trending memes follow, Cohen said.
The meme’s initial explosion was followed by creators shifting to use more inclusive language and dig in to niche discussions — many of them centered on mental health. The particular “Mx. ” title was added to disrupt the format’s gender binary, and the labels turned a lot more personal, self-deprecating and expressive of serious topics — an element of meme culture that will originates from the early 2010s, Cohen stated, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
But trending memes always meet a threefold terminus: trolls and radical and/or political remixing; popularity on Instagram, where the particular app’s file format doesn’t allow the meme to grow and develop all that much; and using the popular memes for commercial purposes.
Trolls can and do eventually glom onto whatever meme is definitely popular plus wear on people — the longer a meme trends, the more susceptible it is to being used to spread stereotypes and regressive messaging. Users upon Instagram possess noted that as the pattern continues, a few of the particular Little Skip characters have got been used to perpetuate dumb blonde jokes and slut-shaming, while several Mr. Males memes have criticized males who fall outside of “traditionally” masculine behavior in dress or expression.
And starting this week, Cohen said, this individual noticed some of the first politics uses associated with the meme: Little Miss Believes Within Traditional Marriage, Little Skip Unvaccinated, Small Miss Two Genders, Little Miss Voted for Trump Twice.
These uses signal the cultural shift with a slippery slope, Cohen mentioned — sometimes ending up within the extremist genre. It has long been a far-right and extremist tactic of co-opting plus appropriating existing popular symbols. The swastika , Valknot and ”OK” hand gesture are widespread examples of culturally significant — or simply benign — icons to have already been poached and commandeered by radical groups.
This purpose is twofold, Cohen said: first, in order to “ride the particular cultural wave” as a vehicle to share their own hateful messages, and second, to remove its non-hateful meaning from the general public consciousness. “Sometimes, not always, they believe that owning a meme or destroying it can be a good form associated with reactionary activism, ” he or she added.
Pepe the Frog, a meme that rose in recognition in the late 2000s plus early 2010s, was branded as a hate symbol during the lead-up to the 2016 election. An entire artistic aesthetic called fashwave rebranded early internet nostalgia and Microsoft Paint-chic with white supremacist hate speech — with “art right” surging in reputation within the following years.
“Radicalization occurs, plus radicals exist, at the lowest ability to understand anything, ” Cohen stated. “It’s when you could reduce some thing down to such simplistic terms that will there’s no outside. ”
Commercialization is certainly the other way memes start in order to die. Beykont, who has the background in research and marketing, has observed an uptick within companies’ usage of well-known memes in advertisements. And once that happens, she mentioned, users tend to drop them because they take on another which means. Those getting in upon the small Miss/Mr. Men tendency for industrial purposes include the UFC and Disney+ Canada , along with slews of small plus online businesses.
“It changes the meaning within a way that people don’t want to use those memes anymore, ” the girl said. “It becomes much less authentic. ”
Mr. Doesn’t Post Memes says: We are likely at the beginning of the end of this Small Miss Meme trend.
Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.