– Memes just may be the definitive product of our times. In an age where constant self-referential humor, anything can be turned into some absurd joke, even a sadly deceased gorilla. Harambe, we’ll never forget you. Typically made up of repurposed pictures and witty captions, memes have swept the world. But is there life after memes? What happens when that surreal 15 minutes of fame passes for the people who find themselves in the center of an Internet phenomenon? Let’s find out. (playful music) Number 10, Bad Luck Brian. Bad Luck Brian was born after Kyle Craven came to school for picture day with an interesting plaid outfit, which Kyle, a joker in his teen years, claims was chosen for comedic effect. Topped off with the somewhat goofy smile of a braces-wearing teen, the image was a mememaker’s dream.
Six years after the picture was taken, it found its way to the Internet after Kyle’s best friend posted it on Reddit. While he claims to have made several thousand from the meme, after the infamous photo was printed on t-shirts, phone cases, pillows, and stuffed animals sold at stores like WalMart and Hot Topic, Kyle admits that he could have made a lot more had he capitalized on the meme earlier through social media. The now 29-year old married man from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio who narrowly bears a slight resemblance to his teenage self can be found building churches with his father’s construction company. But it seems like Bad Luck Brian has fallen off the face of the Internet. His Instagram, YouTube channel, and Twitter have had very little recent activity. Maybe the fame got to be too much for Bad Luck Brian. But if you’ve missed his face, you could always catch his McDonald’s commercial from 2018 where Kyle brought back Bad Luck Brian just for us.
And by the looks of a recent Instagram post, he’s still capable of the Bad Luck Brian look. Number nine, Success Kid. Success Kid, aka Sammy Griner, was catapulted into Internet fame in 2007 when the now infamous photo was taken of him capturing a level of pride that most of us can only aspire to. Though it looks like Sammy’s complimenting himself on his success, the curious toddler is actually chowing down on a mouthful of sand. You know, as toddlers do. Today, Sammy is 13 years old and is only barely recognizable as the proud kid whose determined face spawned so many reaction pics.
He still gets asked to strike the pose though he’d rather not go viral again. He likes being a normal teenager in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. He’s even turned down opportunities to appear on television and game shows. In 2015, Sammy and his family used his fame for a GoFundMe for his father, Justin, who needed a kidney transplant. Amazingly, the Griners raised over $100,000 in just a couple of days. In order to be placed on the transplant waiting list, Justin had to prove he was capable of paying for anti-rejection medication.
With the help of some awesome Success Kid fans, Justin eventually received the transplant. Though Sammy isn’t all that proud of Success Kid, he’s thankful for the meme because he feels it’s the reason his dad is still with him today. Is this the first time a meme has saved a life? Tell me what you think in the comments below. Number eight, Hide the Pain Harold. Hide the Pain Harold, aka Arato Andras, is a stock photo model whose face has appeared in about as many memes as any other human being on earth. His unintentionally awkward smile and pleading eyes have provided inspiration for Internet humorists all over the world making us laugh since 2012. The first stock photos ever shared of Harold were in the forum Facepunch, where forum user Greenen72 posted watermarked photos of the uncomfortable older fellow. The Hungarian man has since retired his modeling days, though his slightly awkward smile and white hair remains the same. Unfortunately, ever since the meme became well-known and Arato’s face left the realm of anonymity, the stock modeling companies he used to work for no longer want to hire him. Despite this and despite the usual implications of the Hide the Pain Harold meme, Arato insists that he’s actually a very happy man and is regularly recognized by young fans in the street.
Despite his wife’s initial dislike of Hide the Pain Harold, she and Arato soon realized that the Internet is an unruly and uncontrollable force once it sweeps something up. And they have since grown to embrace the meme. Fame is not for everyone, understandably. But once it occurs, there’s little that can stop it. Number seven, WalMart Yodeling Kid. Before being spotted by a local teacher at WalMart singing Hank Williams’ classic Lovesick Blues, 10-year-old Mason Ramsey was just your average fifth grader.
Now at age 12, he’s been on Ellen, received a scholarship from WalMart, and appeared on the prestigious Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville, Tennessee. He might look the same as you remember him, but he’s experienced more incredible feats in the past two years than many people will in their entire lives. You’ll even see him popping up in pictures with superstars like Justin Bieber and Post Malone. Best of all, Mason has released his own single named which tells the tale of his new-found fame and debuted at number 62 of the Billboard Hot 100. He even performed at Coachella 2018 after signing a record deal with Big Loud and Atlantic Records. And his net worth is estimated to be around one million dollars. A perfect example of the whirlwind of fame made possible for anyone through social media. You can’t help but thinking, what was I doing at age 12? Number six, Salt Bae. Nusret Gokce, aka Salt Bae, who skyrocketed into the public consciousness after the world-renowned meme showed up on the Internet in 2017. He is actually a Turkish chef.
The meme started when Nusret uploaded a video of himself sprinkling salt on carved beef with all the confidence and class of a crowned prince. Nowadays, Nusret is still looking as cool as ever and is still spreading the salty love. As the owner of a popular restaurant chain, Nusret’s Steakhouse in Istanbul. Salt Bae can’t speak English, but claims he can communicate through meat. After all, who needs spoken words when you can let the steak do the talking. I’d eat at his restaurant what with his clear dedication to getting spices just right, wouldn’t you? As his restaurant chain is reported to be worth around a billion dollars.
He’s come a long way, considering the fact that he didn’t receive any formal education and actually stopped going to school at the age of five. He’s not salty about it, though. Number five, Confused Nick. This meme features the basketball player, Nick Young reacting appropriately when his mother claims he used to be somewhat of a clown as a child. The snap appeared in a day in the life episode of the web series Through the Lens. And ever since, Nick’s bewildered face has been the poster child for those moments when we are baffled by idiotic or straight up confusing content in the weird wonderland of social media. The 33-year-old who hasn’t changed much save for a new, pink hairdo, has since moved on from his stint at LA Lakers playing for the Denver Nuggets for a short while.
But the years following the meme have been filled with controversy for the sportsman, whose engagement to Australian rapper, Iggy Azalea, was called off after his unfaithfulness came to the surface. Though he hasn’t been playing much professional basketball recently, Nick has started a clothing line named Most Hated, which he proudly models on his Instagram. Fans hope he’ll be back playing basketball soon, but for his Twitter feed, it looks like he’s enjoying some time off. The same can’t be said for Nick’s cousin, who just so happens to be none other than the ever prolific rap giant, Kendrick Lamar. I guess talent does run in the family. Number four, Cash Me Ousside.
Most of us have heard of her, some of us hate her, but you have to admit Cash Me Ousside girl has done pretty well for herself. After appearing on Dr. Phil, Danielle Bregoli became a household name, particularly in the Twitterverse. Her catchphrase can still be heard today, but don’t put it on any merchandise or her mom will likely sue you. Bregoli appeared on the show with her mother where she was captured antagonizing the audience, telling them to cash me ousside, howbow dah? – Cash me ousside, howbow dah? – After the meme soared into popularity, Bregoli became Bhadbhabie, a rapper whose identity is defined by the same bad attitude and distinctive attitude as Bregoli. In 2017, she signed a multi-million dollar deal with Adam Kluger of Atlantic Records, who has worked with artists like Lady Gaga, Kesha, and even Eminem.
In one of the greatest examples of the absurd craziness of Internet fame, Bregoli’s first single, These Heaux, hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart and she’s been making music ever since. She might be a little older now, but Bregoli’s bad habits still go beyond her aggressive persona. In 2017, Danielle was sentenced to five years probation after pleading guilty to charges of grand theft auto, possession of marijuana, and filing false police reports. For just 17 years old, I guess she is pretty bad.
But clearly, bad does not equal broke because after all, she’s still worth around three million dollars. Number three, Kazoo Kid. The deeply surreal, yet bizarrely ironic Kazoo Kid video popped up on the Internet nearly 30 years after it was filmed. It was in 2014 that YouTuber Dead VCR edited the innocent children’s show into an unnerving meme we’ve come to know and love. And this is what he looks like now. No, that doesn’t seem right. What’s the day today? Oh, it only took a year after the video reached popularity that his fans found out that Kazoo Kid is actually called Brett Ambler, a surprisingly normal-looking guy. And his start as a child actor and kazoo enthusiast clearly stuck with him.
Now he makes a living as an actor and musician in Colorado. The original weird and somewhat creepy video of the eight-year-old Brett was for a sing-a-long show called Special Friends starring You on Kazoo. But while Kazoo Kid reached the highest peaks of meme popularity, Ambler’s grown-up endeavors have not been completely overshadowed. Recently, he took the starring role in Buddy- The Buddy Holly story in Boulder, Colorado to rave reviews. You’ll be thankful to know that, as well as his acting talents, Brett can still play the kazoo like a pro. Number two, Overly Attached Girlfriend. Lana Morris was 20 years old when her entry to a Justin Bieber contest turned her face into Internet gold.
The parody of Bieber’s song, Boyfriend, has since racked up nearly 20 million views. She followed up with more parodies, which racked up millions of views in their own right. After giving college a try, she dropped out to begin a full-time career on YouTube, where she now has over one million subscribers under the channel name, Laina. Is anyone else a little disappointed at how totally normal she seems? She has since created other funny characters and her Internet fame has landed her the opportunity to appear in sketches for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as well as appearances on the hugely popular YouTube show, Epic Mealtime and even a collaboration with Kia. With an estimated net worth of around $200,000, Laina is now 27 years old, is continuing to make her way in the entertainment industry, and is still in a relationship with the same guy she was with in the original meme.
Clearly, a small recording device taped under your sleeve is the key to a long-lasting relationship. Number one, Disaster Girl. Ah, Disaster Girl, the Internet’s favorite devil child. The girl’s sinister smile in front of a burning building is certainly nightmare fuel. But truth be told, this picture isn’t as sinister as it seems. The girl behind the meme is Zoe Roth, who was four at the time the photo was taken. And in spite of how it looks, she didn’t start the fire. Her dad, Dave, snapped the photo outside of a live fire drill that was being carried out down the street from their home. Capturing a timeless shot that would be photoshopped onto endless darkly humorous disaster pics. In 2007, three years after the picture was taken, Dave uploaded the picture to a photo sharing site called Zoomr, with the caption, Firestarter. The picture soon grew into the phenomenon we know today due to its irresistible Photoshop potential. As you can see, while Zoe’s no longer the little kid she once was, she still pulls off that evil smile like a pro. While Zoe didn’t personally reach the levels of exposure experienced by more recent memes like Damn Daniel or Danielle Bregoli, Zoe doesn’t seem to mind.
Zoe still made money from the meme, partially from her inclusion in the popular card game, Know Your Meme, as well as occasional licensing of the iconic photo for advertising campaigns. Zoe has used her earnings so far to help fund her college tuition. And despite offers to sell rights to the image, Zoe and her family have decided to hold on to them just in case.
These days, in a total u-turn from what you might expect of Disaster Girl, Zoe has been carrying out substantial disaster relief work, volunteering in Haiti and working as a part of an organization known as StreetWorks, taking troubled youths off the streets and giving them education and life skills. As expected, life after memes can take on a huge range of forms, but which meme legend’s life story impressed you the most? And how would you handle the strange existence of a life as a famous meme star? Let me know in the comments section down below.
And as always, thanks for watching. (marimba music) .