The 9 Most Obnoxious Memes to Ever Escape the Web

The internet is responsible for many terrible things, which the world tolerates as long as these terrible things stay on the internet.

But some internet memes become so popular they spill out and infect the real world in ways that simply cannot be tolerated. Such as ...

#9. Hamster Dance


In 1998, a Canadian art student began a site dedicated to her pet hamster, which features four .gifs of hamsters and a nine-second loop of an irritating song that was basically the aural equivalent of pubic lice. The popularity of the site remained blissfully small until January 1999, when it inexplicably shot up from around 4 hits a day to 15,000 thanks to a campaign of emails, early blogs, bumper stickers and what must have been a worldwide drop in taste and sanity.

Where it Crossed the Line:

By the end of 1999 was drawing an estimated 250,000 daily hits. Worse still, a band called The Cuban Boys released a song called "Cognoscenti Versus Intelligentsia," which consisted mostly of that irritating Hamster Dance sound loop and high pitched yodeling you might recognize as the sped up voice of Satan. As you can guess, the experience was similar to having feces injected directly into your eardrums.

Before too long, versions of the Hamster Dance were being released in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and the tune was featured in 2001 film See Spot Run and the 2005 film Are We There Yet? (presumably a chilling trip into the human psyche in which a sadistic father drives his family around on an endless journey, blasting the Hamster Dance tune until they beg for the eternal silence of death).

#8. All Your Base Are Belong To Us


The meme began in 1998, with an innocent animated .gif on a video game website. It was taken from the opening cutscene of a Sega Genesis game called Zero Wing, in which a villain called Cats appears on a space craft's monitor and says "How are you Gentlemen!! All your base are belong to us. You are on the way to destruction!"

If you've never seen the whole thing in context, here it is:

This one line, which existed purely because game companies back then couldn't afford translators, spread across the internet like ... man we hate to keep using the pubic lice analogy, but when the irritating contagion fits.

Where it Crossed the Line:

We're thinking right about here:

And by the end of 2000, it had international media attention--we're talking mentions on Fox News, the BBC and articles in Time magazine. Or course, by the time the rest of the world had jumped on the bandwagon, use of the phrase would earn you instant rebuke from the daylight-dodging denizens of internet gaming forums.

But that didn't stop it. In 2003, as an April Fool's joke, seven teenagers placed signs bearing the slogan all around the town of Sturgis, Michigan. The joke backfired when the town's residents got worried that it was an act of terrorism, Sturgis being widely regarded by its residents (and no one else) as one of al-Qaida's next likely targets.

To this day you can find several t-shirts bearing the slogan.

Those shirts are all probably being worn ironically at this point, since internet memes age in dog years. One irony that's probably lost on the makers of Zero Wing: More money has probably been made off of their inadvertent catch phrase than they ever saw from the game.

#7. Chuck Norris Facts


If you just bought your first computer today, Chuck Norris Facts are an internet fad that consists of hundreds of user-created facts about the actor, usually involving his ability to roundhouse kick your mother into next Tuesday.

It started with a thread on the Something Awful forums back in early 2005, one of probably nine million threads created that day. It simply asked members to post facts about Vin Diesel, at which point hundreds of pieces of completely false and exaggerated Vin trivia came pouring in. Later they were gathered into the Vin Diesel Fact Generator.

The site substituted Chuck Norris by popular request and a phenomenon was born.

Where it Crossed the Line:

Around the time that a World of Warcraft add-on featuring a Chuck Norris Fact generator was released in January 2006, corporate America started realizing this thing might have some crossover potential. Soon enough, references started turning up in non-internet media and then, finally, Chuck himself got on board.

Norris has appeared on several talk shows since this all started. Rolling Stone did a small piece about them, and in 2006, Time interviewed Norris, calling him an "online cult hero."

Then, in a turn of events almost too absurd even for politics, Norris campaigned for presidential candidate Mike Huckabee ... based purely around the premise that he had the magical powers claimed in the facts.

But the ridiculous circle would not be complete until the guy who started the fact generator website, former intern Ian Spector, wrote a book The Truth About Chuck Norris: 400 Facts About The World's Greatest Man).

Norris has sued ol' Ian, the person most responsible for reviving his career. Either Mr. Norris wanted more of a cut of the goods or he was pissed off about the revealing of his super powers, which he had presumably hoped to keep a secret.

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