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The New Ninja: 10 Characters That Might Be the Next Meme

Former Cracked.com writer Matt Wilson has managed a short respite from his forced labor at the The International Society of Supervillains to bring you this piece about the internet, and specifically why it's retarded.

Over the past several years, the internet has had a whirlwind romance with a number of different pop-culture archetypes, we'll call them character memes. We've been through ninjas, zombies, robots, pirates and, for some reason, cats with lacking grammatical skills. A typical character meme will get featured in thousands of viral videos, someone will figure out how to make money off of it, and the internet will declare that particular character meme lame. So what character will we snatch out of the ether and cannibalize next? After literally hours of Googling I've compiled the most likely candidates:

Cowboys

The Case For:

Cowboy stories are as essentially American as pirates or ninjas and there have been just as many pulp novels about cowboys as there have been about robots. While Westerns were supposedly dead by the 80s, the internet generation got our taste of a classic with Unforgiven in 1992 (if you're not a film snob, two years earlier with Back to the Future III). And they've been threatening a comeback with movies like 3:10 to Yuma and milkshake-meme spawning There Will Be Blood, which at least took place on a dusty frontier in the early 20th Century.

The Case Against:

Cowboys lack a certain mystery. They're just dudes who round up cattle. They rarely go crazy and kill people. And when they do kill people, it's all organized with set times and numbers of paces and shit.

Bottom Line:

Classic, but kind of bland. And it'll take a lot to make the internet forgive all those terrible Brokeback Mountain jokes.

Leprechauns

The Case For:

Appearances on both The Simpsons and Aqua Teen Hunger Force give them comedy cred, as if they needed it after the fourth installment of the Leprechaun movie series. Their ethnic background puts them in good company, too, as it's been rumored that ninjas aren't American at all.

The Case Against:

They have their own holiday, at which point everyone pretty much gets any fondness for Leprechauns out of their system. So this would be about as likely as Santa Claus becoming a character meme.

Bottom Line:

Then again, make Santa funny, ethnic and drunk and that doesn't sound so far fetched ...

Ghosts

The Case For:

Their centuries-long struggle with Pac-men and their spouses has been documented for many years. Plus, there's a period in just about every kid's life where he or she becomes obsessed with ghost stories. It may only be for a week, but it happens. Ghosts are like the yo-yo of fantastical characters; every kid loves them, but then promptly forgets them.

The Case Against:

The numerous cable shows in which a group of idiots go around a house looking for ghosts and then go apeshit when a paint can falls over give ghosts a bad name. And ghosts, who almost never appear in those shows, have done nothing to stop them.

Bottom Line:

Pac-Man good, cable shows and Eddie Murphy movies bad.

Vikings

The Case For:

At sea, they're like pirates with more ridiculous head gear. On land they're basically a less-subtle Scandinavian ninja, what with their constant killing the hell out of everything (bonus: They burn it, too).

The Case Against:

The burning and the killing and the pillaging are all well and good, but they might be a little rape-y for mass appeal.

Bottom Line:

Pillage! Kill! Loot! (rape.)

Gnomes

The Case For:

Gnomes have skirted the pop-cultural landscape for years, with urban legends about clans of them that secretly repaired shoes or the one about the garden gnome that shows up at different landmarks and tells you to book your trips through Travelocity. And the Smurfs are basically blue gnomes so there's a nostalgia there too.

The Case Against:

If you've ever been driving through a neighborhood at night and glimpsed a lawn gnome out of the corner of your eye, you know the unyielding fear that lurks in those few moments before you make absolutely sure it didn't move.

Bottom Line:

Zombies might eat your brains, but they act like they're hammered, which is hilarious. Gnomes on the other hand are just fucking creepy.

Fairies

The Case For:

They're already visible on the MySpace page and/or Livejournal of just about every 13-year-old girl who claims to be 18 in America. And before that, they were on every Trapper Keeper owned by the same group.

The Case Against:

They're pretty girly and/or gay, and it seems that the testosterone lobby has had a bit of a lock on the Internet Popularity Cycle since its inception, given the prominence of zombies, robots, etc.

Bottom Line:

Fruity, but then lolcats aren't the definition of manliness.

Clowns

The Case For:

The Joker! Oh holy crap, The Joker. Did you see him do that magic trick? With the pencil? Man, that was epic!

The Case Against:

Circuses of all types, Ronald McDonald, Stephen King's It, The Bozo Show, Pagliacci, krumping, Insane Clown Posse. Basically, with the exception of Krusty, every pop culture cameo they make is an argument against the popularity, and maybe even the existence, of clowns.

Bottom Line:

Heath Ledger was awesome! On the other hand, "Wanna see me make a pencil disappear?" could be the next "I can't quit you."

Politicians

The Case For:

It's pretty much inevitable. As we saw in 2000 and 2004, there's nothing the internet loves more than sticking a politician's head on an animated body and making it dance a silly jig. And it's easy. It's not satire by any means, but boy, people sure will watch a video where John McCain and Barack Obama sing a slightly altered version of "If I Had a Hammer."

The Case Against:

There's an expiration date. As soon as the election's over, nobody's going to care. Politicians are great as long as there's some girl with huge cans singing about how she wants to bang one of them.

Bottom Line:

The only way they have lasting power is if they're really terrible at their job once elected.

1970s-and-80s-era Punk Rockers

The Case For:

They're well associated with zombies, as evidenced by Return of the Living Dead, one of the finest zombie films ever made. They have even more weird spiked things poking out of their heads than the average viking. It just feels like the perfect time to make up a bunch of shit about how they fight bears and poop uranium.

The Case Against:

Apparently they were real people at one time. Also, according to people who remember that time, they sucked at crapping uranium, and were far better at indirectly giving birth to Sum 41.

Bottom Line:

On the one hand, this is the internet, not history class. On the other, Sum 41 has taken to calling their brand of music "punk rock," so that pretty much ruins that phrase forever.

Anthropomorphized Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The Case For:

They haven't made much headway yet, but that'll all change when I start selling Matt Wilson's original "Herpy: The Friendly Genital Sore" merchandise on E-Bay. Herpe's a mailman in suburban Chicago with a neighbor named A. Null Wart who always comes over and eats his cereal without asking.

The Case Against:

I can't think of one.

Bottom Line:

Just think about it, internet.

Matt now returns to his slave labor with the The International Society of Supervillains.

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