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Ugly meme conquers the Internet

Alexander Alexeenko - 26.04.20

On the Internet, no one knows that you are a dog, and no one cares if you can not draw it.

This is essentially the focus of a recent article by Nick Douglas, a former Valleywag editor. In article, Douglas tries to come up with a phrase that describes a dirty, iterative and, frankly, not all this attractive image that can be found on hubs like Imgur, Reddit and 4chan. He calls it ugly meme.


1. Ugly meme as a part of online arts

It is suggested that online art and memes should not be beautiful. Moreover, they should look dirty. Douglas points to a few examples of the ugly meme. There is Rage Comics - a set of simple to simulate drawings in the form of figures with an inscription on top. Like many memes, paints ugly meme are mostly crazy with poorly drawn pictures. Anyone can take a template and add something that matches a small sequence. Ardent comics have a whole range of faces, many of which are distorted versions of earlier drawings.

In fact, Reddit has a whole group of ugly meme communities. Things like posting a parody of your non-worthless cousins.

2. Ugly meme in comparisons

The ugly meme is all about people trying to do something good and amazing. Most of these images compare and match the desired result with the actual one. The worse the failure, the better the meme. In his article, Douglas argues that it is precisely this ugliness that distinguishes online media from everything else. You can create ugly Microsoft Paint drawings, embed bad fonts in worse images, it doesn't matter how good it looks.


Why did the ugly meme network go for quantity in quality? A few reasons. The first is speed. Many of these parts are iterative, they respond to each other, and they occur in threads that move quickly, and in some cases are deleted within a few days or even within a few minutes. Secondly, no one bothers someone to publish their work. There are no traditional gatekeepers, there is no formal process for verifying anything. Approval comes in the form of stocks, comments and additional revenue. And the people doing this divide, juggle and repeat, ultimately, are lovers of memes who care more about jokes than about shading and brushstroke.

And, like in any community that has developed its own aesthetics, there is a danger that someone will use it, people will “buy out” ugly meme. Hot topic sold shirts with Rage Guy and other memes on them. Politicians used the Doge meme in their campaigns. Users of Reddit and 4chan came down on these attempts to use their work, claiming that they were not only impostors, but also did not understand the purpose and art of the ugly meme.

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