Since the Olympics affected so many aspects of our lives, the birth of Olympic memes was inevitable.
It doesn’t take much maths to figure out that if 27 million of us watched the Opening Ceremony, a couple of internet-savyy geeks would pick up on Queen’s bored face. Here is what she thought according to the Internet.
Sport memes are nothing new. This year’s sensations were Balotelli ripping his shirt off after scoring against Germany during EURO 2012, and the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy running from Reddit. Balotelli’s “Hulk” got photoshopped tons of times into ballerinas, pizza chefs and jackhammer workers, and the smiley marathon guy got captioned all over the Internet.
After the Super Bowl season, everybody was tebowing. Me, you, David Bowie/Tebowie, America and the rest of the world kneeled on one knee into a prayer’s pose to imitate Broncos QB Tim Tebow. London 2012 brought us a new trend: bolting. Although not completely new, it peaked during the Olympics. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt would celebrate his victories by leaning back and pointing to the sky.
But the real thing started on tumblr. First while performing a James Bond kind of stunt, our Mayor Boris Johnson got stuck on a zip line in Victoria park. His misfortune got turned into #dangleboris and that’s how the meme was born. We saw Boris dangling from the most extraordinary places.
Boris hanging on a zip line is itself a funny image. Photoshopped into a shot from Star Wars (The British Empire Strikes Back!) brings funny to the LOL level. People may support him or not, but everybody will laugh. Can you imagine any other politician dangling on a zip line? Berlusconi? Joe Biden? (Richard Branson could pull it off but hey he is a graceful beast.)
Later on, US Gymnast McKayla Maroney fell during the Vaulting competition, which downgraded her to a silver medal. Prepared for Gold, unimpressed with silver, she clearly wasn’t happy. But indeed, we are happy finding her equally disappointed with Mad Men, Ryan Gosling or Barack Obama on mckaylaisnotimpressed.tumblr.com/.
McKayla is awesome because her face shows true emotions. In today’s world we’re used to people hiding their thoughts, smiling when they are expected to smile. On that famous photo we saw an uncontrollable grimace of disappointment when she received the silver medal. You want to say to her: be happy, silver is still great!
Finally, 5,000 and 10,000 metres Gold Medallist Mo Farah is running away from things. The look on his face from the last seconds of the race/first seconds of the victory is priceless. So is him escaping from bulls in Pamplona or a T-Rex in Jurassic Park.
Mo Farah cut out of the racing track looks terrified. It seems he fits better into Jurassic park than the finishing line. We share his photos because we love him for winning the first 10,000 metres Gold for Britain. We laugh at him because it is not a face you would expect from someone who just won an Olympic race.
Why do Boris, McKayla and Mo fly online like a G6? Why did we share, like and laugh at their tumblrs?
Because it just happened! There is a feel of relevancy and urgency. In the morning, we saw Boris in the news; in the afternoon, we see him dangling from Barack Obama’s ear.
Because McKayla is so much like us. Even though she is an Olympian who just won a medal, she has the same emotions we have when we get disappointed.
Because we’ve seen it so many times! Mo Farah’s victorious finish was in every news story, on every channel days after it happened. Now how about a geeky take on his victory?
Because we are familiar with the scenes and backgrounds where the memes live.
Because our friends shared their favourites. Because we can make and submit our own photoshopped images. (Hands up who sent theirs!)
Because sharing is very natural behaviour and the web now makes it easier than ever.