Hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson dig into the internet's vast and curious ecosystem of online communities to find untold histories, unsolved mysteries, and other jaw-dropping stories online and IRL.
Anybody old enough to remember infomercials has probably seen the work of TV pitchman Billy Mays. But younger people still know his face and squeaky OxiClean personality. While Mays died years ago, he’s lived on in meme form. We ask his son Billy Mays III, his biggest frenemy, and others to explain why he continues to appear online.
If you typed “inauguration” into your web browser around 2017, you likely saw an image of a person screaming "NOOOO!". That person was Jess, who didn’t know was that they were being filmed during Trump's inauguration. Within hours, this became the scream heard ‘round the world. Four years later, Jess tells their story for the very first time.
In 2013, four white musicians turned a news clip featuring a Black man, Charles Ramsey, into a song. The meme erupted, but when Ramsey discovered it, he couldn’t tell if it was flattery or mockery. We examine The Gregory Brothers and the lives of Ramsey and other Black “unintentional singers” as examples of the appropriation inherent in memes.
When two 12 year-old girls attacked their friend in the woods of Waukesha, Wisconsin in May of 2014, they claimed to have done it to please Slender Man -- a fictional monster created on an internet forum called "Something Awful." In this bonus episode of Endless Thread, we examine Slender Man as monster, meme, and myth.
The Punisher has always been a complicated Marvel antihero: a man whose creator imagined him as a reaction to the failures of government at home and in the Vietnam War. So why is the Punisher’s trademark dripping skull insignia being painted on police vehicles, adopted by members of the military, and donned by white supremacists?
When Gordon Hurd fled Cameroon for the UK, he faced racism as he tried to support his family. He started his own video-making business and adopted another name: Big Man Tyrone. He became a viral meme and the leader of a fictional alt-right country. But where is the line between Hurd and Tyrone?
Zoë Roth was 4 years old when her dad took a photo of her smiling mischievously in front of a burning house. That photo would later spread like wildfire as the internet meme "Disaster Girl." We hear more about how the photo came to be, and who really started that fire.
The funny "Woman Yelling at a Cat" meme that made “Real Housewife” Taylor Armstrong internet famous in 2019 has bitter roots. In this episode, we tell a little-known origin story of a meme that might make you think twice about using it, and we explore why losing context is crucial, but problematic, for memes.
Last week, we explored the origin of the “Rick Roll,” a meme that evolved from Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Since the music video resurfaced in 2007, the internet has also never given up on Rick – it recently hit a billion views on YouTube. This bonus episode dives into Rick's complicated identity as a meme.