Memes are the most inexplicable “cultural” products of today. What becomes a meme is so unpredictable, and it’s that randomness which makes them so hilarious –– of course, only if it isn’t a “stale” meme. The amount of time a meme is relevant ranges anywhere from one week to nearly three months or longer. And, when a meme is deemed old, it loses all credibility; it falls to the dark depths of meme purgatory. In the fall of 2016, DreamWorks’ “Bee Movie” was introduced to the honorable ranks of meme-stardom. Although the meme itself has died, its legacy will live on forever, inspiring memes for months (or weeks) to come.
Memes are not limited to a picture captioned with white block text in Impact font. In fact, this meme style is rather archaic. Today, memes can be anything from short videos on Vine and Instagram to a picture of a clenched fist from the childhood cartoon “Arthur.” Comic Sans is generally the font of choice for meme creators. Strangely enough, the “Bee Movie” memes tend to be edits and mashups of the movie itself, like the aptly titled YouTube video “The entire bee movie but every time they say bee it gets faster,” that received an astonishing 15 million views –– a meme miracle.
The origins of the “Bee Movie” meme are ambiguous. By November 2016, it gained significant momentum and eventually became the most popular meme on the web. Discovering a meme ahead of the curve is like discovering a band before they get big. There’s a sense of disappointment due to the meme, or band, feeling less special once everyone knows about it — but also pride. “I found this first, therefore I’m cool!”
Other similar mashups and edits of “Bee Movie” have been shared on Facebook and Instagram. According to the meme expert Anthony Fantano –– more famously known as The Needle Drop –– the “Bee Movie” meme is “disoriented, mind altering and almost psychedelic, in a way.” Despite there being no original content, some amount of creativity is still needed to produce these mashups. Someone had to watch “Bee Movie” and actively think about making a meme out of it. For this, I applaud the creator, whoever this individual may be.
Memes are a godsend for weird, awkward internet-forum dwellers across the world. That creepy kid from high school who sat in the back of every classroom drawing questionable pictures is now probably a virtual star.
Although it’s impossible to tell what will become a meme, the “Bee Movie” is an ideal candidate. It’s not a great movie, but also not a terrible movie. It’s not new, but old enough to have some amount of nostalgic value. To top it all off, Jerry Seinfeld (“Seinfeld”) voices Barry, the loveable bee who falls in love with a human voiced by Renée Zellweger (“Bridget Jones’s Baby”). Meme culture loves ’90s nostalgia, so it only makes sense that a movie written by and starring Jerry Seinfeld would transcend into the meme realm.
The mashup style and the edited format of the “Bee Movie” meme have already impacted others. In December, an influx of “Star Wars” meme-videos of lightsaber fights dubbed with random dialogue every time a lightsaber collides invaded the Internet. Nonetheless, a similar meme as popular as the “Bee Movie” meme has yet to come, and it will be nearly impossible to do so.