Ah, 2022. Where to begin? The year might not’ve been dominated by a pandemic, but it certainly was one for the history books. The Queen died. Liz Truss got trolled by a lettuce. Matt Hancock ate kangeroo dick. (Not to mention the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the overturning of Roe v. Wade and a cost of living crisis that has us in a chokehold.)
Naturally, amid all this utter chaos, memes were the only thing we could rely on. They inspired our Halloween costumes. They gave us something to smile about. They definitely provided more stability than the government.
What do the year’s best memes say about society? Not much. What do our most Googled memes say about us? Just about everything.
For an insight into the moments Brits couldn’t stop searching for – e.g. ‘Adam Levine meme’, anyone? – these are the most Googled memes of 2022, courtesy of exclusive data from Google.
10. Queen meme
The passing of 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest reigning monarch, was a big moment for us. And, of course, the memes did not hold back. But before the memes even started, we were stifling laughter (or not) over public condolences from brands like the British Kebab Awards. Organisations big and small raised a tweet to our late majesty, and celebrities far and wide inserted themselves into the narrative, too. Then there was The Queue – perhaps, the most British reaction to anything anywhere ever.
9. Liz Truss meme
From one Liz to another, this disappointment became the shortest-serving Prime Minister in UK history. After 45 days in office – and roughly 24 hours after declaring she was “a fighter, not a quitter” – Liz Truss resigned on on 20 October, after successfully leading the country to financial ruin. There were memes. There was a livestream of a lettuce outliving her tenure. Truly, you have to laugh – or you’ll cry.
8. Putin meme
It pains to give Vladimir Putin airtime, but before Russia actually invaded Ukraine, Putin and Emmanuel Macron had a Kremlin meeting across a stupidly long table. They met for Ukraine crisis talks and while the exchange was clearly a diplomatic failure, it gave us great content.
7. Jamal meme
‘Jamal Did It’ was a TikTok trend that started out as parody of racism, but inevitable ended up being actually racist. The original video depicts a whodunnit style crime where suspects of a theft are shown in an emoji lineup. Three of them are white (one even admits to the crime), and the last suspect is a Black, newborn baby named “Lulquidication Daquan”. It’s supposedly meant to mock people so racist they’d blame an innocent child, but the internet ran away with it, of course.
By late 2022, videos switched the racially insensitive baby name to “Jamal” and used an old photo of actor Abraham Clinkscales to represent the child character. The less said about the whole thing the better.
6. Tinder Swindler meme
When Netflix released docu-series The Tinder Swindler, scammer Simon Leviev took West Elm Caleb’s spot as the internet’s most hated dater. While there’s nothing funny about a conman posing as a fake billionaire on Tinder – and scamming women out of millions – there is something funny about our reactions. We love a retribution story, I guess.
5. Adam Levine meme
Sure, anyone’s sexts would sound cringe if they went viral. But the Maroon 5 frontman’s were just too unsexy to let go of. In September, PEOPLE’s sexiest man alive, circa 2013, was accused of sending flirty text messages to a series of women who were not his wife. When these messages were leaked, 43-year-old Levine was also accused of sounding “like he’s 17 and hasn’t ever fucked”. God bless (pre-Elon) Twitter.
4. Emotional damage meme
Perhaps the best representation of our collective fragile / fried / disintegrating mental state is this: the internet bonding over emotional trauma. The usual format of this meme is a video of someone being roasted, with a clip of YouTuber Steven He saying, “Emotional damage,” added on the end. Trauma loves company!
3. Four Lads in Jeans meme statue
No, it’s not 2019. But yes, the Four Lads in Jeans meme is still doing the rounds. This time, it’s because the classic image – of four friends in tight jeans – was immortalised in paper mâché. Admit it, we all Googled this one.
2. Mr. Incredible meme
It all started last year, with a ‘Traumatised Mr. Incredible’ image on Twitter – where a normal image of the cartoon is compared to a black and white edited version, effectively representing happy and traumatised. Then, ‘Mr. Incredible Becoming Uncanny’ surfaced on TikTok and YouTube – a series of the cartoon becoming more traumatised. And now? No one really knows. Variations this year have included: ‘Mr. Incredible Becoming Ascended’, ‘Mr. Incredible Becoming Old’… ‘Sad’… ‘Futuristic’… ‘Goofy’… ‘Rich’… and I really don’t know why we care anymore.
1. Will Smith meme
It’s of little surprise that this pop culture moment made it to number one. After years of pretty boring Oscar ceremonies, this year’s awards show was watched on repeat around the world. Of course, it’s the moment when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock for making a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith. Whatever your opinion on the matter, we can all agree the memes were everything.
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