The Christmas Wojak War
Something very interesting this week has been happening to the “Wojak” meme. Twitter right now is being flooded with black, brown, and Asian variants of the meme, while far-right users are having a complete meltdown over the “loss” of their meme.
If you don’t know who Wojak is, he’s this guy:
I first encountered him as the “feels guy” on 4chan in the early 2010s. According to Know Your Meme, the Wojak meme actually comes from a German 4chan-esque message board called Krautchan. He was first posted there in 2010.
Unlike Pepe, Wojak was never completely appropriated by white nationalists. In fact, one of the most interesting things about Wojak is that he’s infinitely remixable. He’s the standing in the corner of the party guy, he’s the aforementioned feels guy, he’s the big brain guy, he’s smug, he’s a doomer, he’s grillpilled, he’s sort of whatever people want him to be. But, yes, racists and extremists also use him. As they try to do with all memes.
On Tuesday, a Black Twitter user from the UK, who has now made her account private (due to abuse I’d imagine), named @AfroAmi, revealed that she was the creator of some of the Black Wojack variants that have become increasingly popular on Twitter over the last few months.
I have a private Twitter list of users I follow that aren’t exactly Groypers, but Extremely Online Gen Z Discord edgelords that I use as cultural canaries in the radicalized coal mine. Watching their reaction to the the new Wojacks has been interesting. The best way I could describe it is basically this meme while trying very hard to make it seem like they’re not this meme:
The non-white Wojaks are evolving incredibly quickly and there really isn’t much connective tissue between the disparate threads happening. Also, it’s not exatly the “woke” triumph over racists that some people are framing it as. I spent the last few days going through a bunch of them and they are wildly chaotic and politically all over the place. Whatever the complete and total inverse of intersectional social justice is, that’s what’s happening to Wojak right now. Whatever your personal political bugaoo is, no matter how absurd, there is now a Wojak for it now.
Which is, honestly, something that is completely and totally normal for memes. This happens a lot! I would even go so far as to say it’s healthy, at least on a macro level.
What will happen next to Wojak is both deeply unimportant and also pretty interesting. I’ve written before about how Gen Z doomer memes are basically just Rage Comics 2.0 and a similar chaotic explosion of content happened around them, as well. It wasn’t as sophisticated and intensely political as what’s happening now to Wojak, but it was basically the same. The next stage is usually shameless monetization. Here’s how it usually works:
A niche meme appears within a somewhat insular community.
Access to it increases as it becomes more popular.
Access and popularity reach a tipping point and it’s suddenly everywhere.
In the chaos, it undergoes such a rapid transformation that it no longer resembles itself.
It paradoxically becomes more specific and niche as it becomes remixed by more and more diverse communities.
It’s popularity and ubiquity lead to companies trying to shamelessly monetize it. (Anyone remember the Adam Sandler Rage Comic shirt?)
The shameless monetization means brands begin watering down the more chaotic — and usually interesting — aspects of the meme to make it more palatable.
It loses popularity.
It dies out.
Like I said, I think this is largely a good thing! I suspect Pepe the Frog was so easy to hijack because it couldn’t be fully democratized and deconstructed the way Wojak is now. Access to memes and different communities’ ability to express themselves with them both keep internet culture interesting and, also, safeguard it from co-option by extremists.
A quick, related, aside. There were a lot of very funny dismissive responses to this completely nuts tweet about the metaphysics of Wojak memes or whatever, but my favorite was, “it’s a fucking internet face dude.”
The Tip Of A Large And Troubling Internet Iceberg
This was sent to me by Kestrel, a member of the Discord server I’m in for a Twitch show I do. I tried to find some evidence of the lesbian aunt American Girl Doll drama happening on Facebook, but was largely unsuccessful.
From what I can tell, the Girl of the Year for 2021 is named Kira Bailey. Turns out there is a very active online community for American Girl Dolls, complete with fan theories. Here’s one more update about Kira that is absolutely WILD:
Not even American Girl Dolls are safe from the grim horrors of daily life in 2020 it seems.
The Reddit Update We Were All Waiting For
About a month ago, a deeply troubling post appeared at the top of Reddit’s AmITheAsshole subreddit. Here are three horrible paragraphs from the post that should clue you into what’s happening here:
Sometime in the last year, my husband has picked up a habit where he talks like a baby. At first it was funny, but passed into embarrassing, cringeworthy behavior quickly.
Examples: doggo, pupper, woofer/subwoofer, pibble, hooty-boy, peepo, birb, meowmeow, sammy, sammiches, sammywhammy, chicky nuggies, chicky tendies, adding a toddleresque "lisp" to words, and the ones that really get gross are childish euphemisms for genitalia or sex.
I cannot emphasize this enough: it is not endearing or sexy to have my husband talk about my "boobies" and his "weiner" and "weenie" and "wee wee", "hoohas" and "bajingos" (Nostalgia for Scrubs be damned). We have not had sex for six months because he cannot stop talking about my "boobies" and it makes me sick.
Many of the comments underneath the post tried to take this seriously, which, honestly, I find admirable. As I’ve said before on Garbage Day, I treat everything in the relationship subreddits the same way — probably fake, but revealing some interesting emotional truths about how modern relationships work.
Well, the OP came back this week with an update, and, guys, it’s a rollercoaster:
It was a bet with one of his friends that started as them trying to embarrass each other in public. He bet my husband that he couldn’t keep it up for the whole year. The only “off-limits” part was at work, because he couldn’t jeopardize his career.
No, no. He decided to jeopardize his marriage instead. For what prize? What was he going to win? A signed baseball. A. BASEBALL.
Apparently, the husband had to send his friend videos of himself tormenting his wife with his awful and deranged baby talk for an entire year. It’s completely insane and OP says she’s leaving him over it. The reactions, both on Reddit and Twitter, to the update have been intense, with lots of good points made about how all men need to go to therapy, but a couple commenters made a really good point.
Why didn’t he just ask his wife to lie for him so he wouldn’t have to talk like a baby during sex for a whole year? Unless…
Some Soothing ASMR Content For You
This ended up on my timeline courtesy of my friend Taylor Lorenz. Fun fact about me. I deeply loathe ASMR content. I’m one of those people who find it almost painful to listen to. It’s like someone is pressing their fingers down on my brain.
But I’m also a person who gets sorta hungry when I walk into a Lush. So I liked this! I would watch more of this.
The YouTube Best Friends Cinematic Universe
This screenshot of YouTube’s Trending page from December 23 was tweeted by a YouTuber named Cody Michael Kolodziejzyk, or Cody Ko. I checked the Trending page (in incognito mode) this afternoon and it’s essentially the same.
YouTube is effectively three different websites happening at the same time. At the top, the platform’s slick, though somewhat chaotic creators play out a PG-13 version of Nickelodeon for underage stans. Then, beneath that, you have the more radicalized fiefdoms of political influencers. This is where you have your antivaxx media kingpins, QAnon adjacent yogis, Gamergate movie critics, Patreon-funded breadtubers, riot porn channels, “independent” “journalists,” and alt-lite shock jocks. Then, finally, beneath that, you have your one-off uploads, small-time hobbyists, and algorithmically-generated adsense clickfarms.
We’re in a boom era for creator collaboration. Thanks to the popularity around Hype Houses, Vlog networks, and inter-creator “feuds” playing out on drama channels, the top influencers on YouTube know it’s in their best interest to work together to stay at the top. Which is how you end up with the Trending page looking the way it does.
This is almost exactly like when all the top Viners began living in the same apartment building, appearing in each other’s videos, and then approached the company, asking to be paid for their work. Vine said no. The creators left for YouTube. And Vine died.
The fact this kind of centralization of creators is happening again across multiple platforms — YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram — is notable! It may mean that we’ve finally reached a point where influencers will be able to leave the orbit of the platforms that made them famous for good. I’m not sure, to be honest. But for the last 10 years or so, all influencers have existed within this weird push and pull with platforms and every time they start dominating Trending pages like this, it means big shifts are on the horizon.
A Christmas Carol
This is, honestly, very close to Every Time I Die lyrics. Anyone going to try and perform this?
Another YouTube Thing
I saw this screenshot on digitalkiller’s Tumblr. I couldn’t find the original account that posted it, but I did discover that this is an apparently common thing! Honestly, between the average Minecraft YouTuber or Lovecraft, I’m unclear which would have more problematic ideas about race theory.
S O F T C A B I N E T
That is all.
A Traditional Italian Christmas Ornament
I tried all morning to find a source for these spaghetti ornaments. It has Facebook energy to it, but I can’t tell if it’s a troll or not. If any eagle-eyed Garbage Day readers can help me track down the origin of these great Italian style Christmas decorations I’d be very grateful.
Also, according to a few replies to the above tweet, apparently these will absolutely explode as the spaghetti begins to rot inside of them. A merry Christmas to all. Buon Natalei!
My Sister’s Bad Holiday RomCom Review Corner
This is the final installment of a section cowritten with my sister Caroline (for now! Valentine’s Day?). She loves terrible Christmas movies. She loves them so much she subscribes to the Hallmark channel’s streaming app and watches them all year long.
She wanted to see how much my readers have learned over the last week about terrible Christmas romcoms. So she made a quiz! Some of following titles and descriptions are real and some are ones Caroline totally made up. Without googling, try and figure out which is which. Scroll to the very end to see the answers!
1. Sparks Fly For Christmas
Holly, a high-powered city attorney is already struggling to find the holiday spirit when her Christmas tree goes up in flames. It's not until she meets firefighter Saint Nick that she starts to realize the true meaning of Christmas.
2. Valentine Ever After
A woman finds love and her true calling in life while performing community service for her involvement in a bar brawl.
3. Harvest Love
A widowed surgeon visits her family's pear orchard in hopes of taking a break from her overbooked life and reconnecting with her distant son. She starts to fall for the farm manager, who is growing a new hybrid pear, and teachers her the importance of her heritage.
4. A Dog Named Christmas
A disabled man embarks on a mission to find homes for dogs during the holidays.
5. Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery
As Christmas approaches, amateur sleuth Hannah takes a break from baking to investigate the murder of an entrepreneur.
6. The First Noel
Santa's daughter, Noelle, goes undercover in Snowflake Falls, a nearby town, to escape the pressures of taking over the family business. Secrets begin to unravel as she starts to fall in love with Nick, a widowed father who runs the town diner.
7. The Christmas Secret
A robust villager named Nick rescues a zoologist whose plane crashes near the North Pole.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***
(Only 1 and 6 were made up by Caroline. The rest are totally real lmao.)