The Best Memes of 2021 (So Far) Are a Reflection of Our Collective Madness

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From Esquire

Who would have thought that social distancing and homebound hysteria would have provided us with great memes? The best memes of 2021 are a reflection of who we’ve become, not who we can be. We’re tired. We’re dizzy. We’ve overeaten. We’re so crazy that we’ve started getting h*rny on main. Hell, some of us are cats. Even the solemn moments of President Joe Biden’s inauguration have driven us mad. If 2020’s best memes represented our growing detachment from reality, 2021 is all about what happens once we’ve fully flown away from sanity, Sandra-Bullock-in-Gravity-style.

This year, we’re blessed with an even more disgruntled Bernie and the Sea Shanties on Tik Tok. Oh, and that giant cardboard cutout of Ana de Armas that Ben Affleck threw away post-breakup. We, the troll people of the internet, know how to take an isolated moment and blow it up into abject absurdity. Then we beat that dead horse until all that’s left is a singular bottle of Elmer’s glue and errant pieces of mane. We’re vicious. We’re quick. We’re meme makers.

That’s just the first few memes of 2021, too. Watch this space as we fill this post out throughout the year. Sitting Bernie won’t be the last meme we see, but it’s going to be a challenge to knock it off the throne for best. The bar is high. The Wellerman cometh. And if you need a boost in your mood, go ahead and relive the best memes of last year too.

Ghostbuster‘s Muncher (February)

What is there to say? Look at him. He’s the internet’s relatable friend because Mucher is us.

I Am Not a Cat (February)

Eleven months into quarantine and COVID-19 restrictions and there are still people who can’t quite grasp the intricacies of Zoom meetings. Cut to: one unfortunate lawyer who couldn’t quite figure out how to not be a cat during a very important meeting. For about half a minute, Presidio County Attorney Rod Ponton was a cat, and in those moments, thirty seconds feels about like thirty years.

The Weeknd’s Super Bowl Performance (February)

If you thought you were the only one getting dizzy watching The Weeknd’s Super Bowl halftime show, you’re not alone. Even before his fun house, psychologically twisty performance ended, the internet took screenshots of the superstar and got to work. Goodbye Mr. Krabs. There’s a new dizzy legend in town.

The Silhouette Challenge (February)

We have been locked up too damn long. The horniness has jumped out in this psuedo-NSFW meme that uses Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” as a sex-driven anthem. What starts as innocuous standing around quickly turns into sexy time when the filter is added and the clothes come off. Everyone go take a cold shower, now.

Disgruntled Bernie (January)

The initial image was just sweet Senator Bernie Sanders, sitting alone in a folding chair with his signature pissed off mug. Mittens on. Accountability mindset activated. The energy was so strong that people immediately identified with the mood, cut him out of the photo, and just started putting him in all sorts of situations. Now he can live on just about anywhere you want, grumpy as he came.

The Ana de Armas Cutout (January)

Truly a gift that keeps on giving. The day that it was announced that Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck broke up, a photo set surfaced online. For some reason, Affleck owned a full-sized cardboard cutout of his girlfriend, and even more bizarrely, it seems he hired someone to throw it out for him. The internet loved it, embraced it, and then Photoshopped it to death. Expect to see this one continue all year long. RIP to the Dunkin’ trips, btw.

Shanty Tok (January)

TikTok user Nathan Evans, a postman from Scotland, started January’s feel-good meme by posting an a capella cover of “Wellerman” on his TikTok. In the coming days, it blew up, with additional people duet-ing the original TikTok with their own iterations of the song. The fun part is that you can add all kinds of riffs in. This is, arguably, the first time that white culture has done something good since approximately the first sea shanties, centuries ago.

In a month full of tumultuous moments, Shanty Tok has given us a bit of calm in the online storm. Also, not to overlook the win for the genre itself: sea shanties have never been more searched on Google as they are today.

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