7Chuck 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 Cracked.com 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.
This meme is an example why early detection is so incredibly important. We had many chances to stop this thing before it spread. But it seemed so benign at first.
In 1997, 17-year-old Swede Daniel Malmedahl recorded himself mimicking the sound of a two-stroke combustion engine and posted it on a website. The sound became something of a meme itself, at least in its native Sweden. A local TV producer convinced Daniel to perform his sound on national television, probably on a Swedish prime-time hit called Sounds Made By People.
In 2003, another Swede, Erik Wernquist, created an animated frog to go with the sound, and correctly christened it The Annoying Thing.
Pretty harmless, right?
By 2004, what would come to be known as "Crazy Frog" had spread all over the internet, making the rest of the world wish Sweden could just stick to making Volvos and Victoria Silvstedt.
Where it Crossed the Line:
Shortly after Wernquist combined the frog with the noise of a nearly grown man pretending to be a motorcycle, he was contacted by a German ringtone company called Jamba!, who asked to use it as a downloadable ringtone for cell phones.
The ringtone became one of the most successful ever in the United Kingdom. Jamba! quickly earned approximately £14 million from download sales and everyone who downloaded it quickly lost all their friends.
Again, it seems like some kind of intervention could have kept this thing from going any further. But the world's government turned a blind eye, and soon a dance track was recorded.
It charted in Europe and follow ups were released. By March 2008, the Crazy Frog had three complete albums, all of which serve as proof that music can be weaponized effectively.
Also released in the UK was a string of merchandise including an electronic game, key rings, backpacks, lunch boxes and air fresheners. Two computer games, each widely loathed by critics, have been released for the Playstation 2.
Worse yet, a German production company called The League of Good People have made a sad mockery of their name by entering into talks with a production company to create a Crazy Frog TV show. A film is rumored to be in the works, and is likely.
Unless, of course, it turns out that there is a just God.