In Soviet Russia, Meme Makes You! – Top 5 Russian Memes

Troll Family

Self-Portrait of Author and Family

Disclaimer: This is a somewhat picture intensive post written with my horrible excuse for humor. Also some memes are explicit. Deal with it.

Okay, so you’re asking yourself – what is a meme? How do you even say that word? To be honest I mispronounce “saLmon” so I am probably not going to be the best person to tell you. Thank God for the interwebz though as Dictionary.com says this:

Meme: a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.

Analogous to the biological transmission of genes indeed, Sir!

The web is a scary place that wears a nice clean UPS uniform so soccer moms can get their “50 Shades of Gray” from Amazon without ever having to face the dark netizens lurking just below the surface. Peel back a layer and it’s Alice in Wonderland all over again.

Memes are the spawn of the internet subculture that is increasingly becoming a force to be reckoned with. The use of memes is even seen during this year’s elections.  NPR wrote an article showcasing the emergence of what some call an internet subculture in political campaigns.

NPR: Political Memes: Fast, Cheap, And Out Of Control?

and Politico.com has a gallery featuring some of the funniest memes from this election

BUT I am soooo tired of all the politics lately, as I am sure you are too my dear reader – cause your here – on this site, so grab your binders full of women or if you prefer, women full of binders and lets explore something that you might have to explain to your kids someday. Like why I put a trollface over my daughter. And why it’s hilarious. Despite what my wife says.

I love memes. I really do. And you should too. If you haven’t already swallowed both pills and dove headfirst down the rabbit hole into the wonderful world of memes, lolcats and ragefaces like I have then come, friend – I have some things to show you. (Stifles sinister giggle)

 

Rage Face Indeed

mmhm, yes.

Here’s a quick backstory to what the hell all of this is. Just blame 4Chan. It’s the proverbial evil red-headed step-child that grew up when you were out with your “real family” – and he just stole your truck. Well, you had that one coming – but really 4chan and places like it are the beloved dingy attics and basements of the internet where netizens hang out, post pictures, news, humor, anything goes really – and the result is memes.

They are ideas that are warped and shaped by society. They change depending on whoever is making them and for me that’s the best part. You can see evolution in progress as an idea or image is shaped by each person interested in adding their own touch. So, “transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes” is actually a fairly accurate description of how memes are created: interwebz sex. Just kidding. They are a conglomerate of whoever made them, where they came from, and now they’re in politics.

Meanwhile in Russia

Putin: FFFFFFUUUUUUU!

Okay, okay – I promised to stop with the politics. But clearly Putin is a force of nature, and has spawned countless memes. So I think it’s fair to include him on this list. Oh yeah – the list. Well, the whole purpose of this post was to introduce you to Russian memes and here I am spouting off about the history, culture, blah blah boring. So! Without – much particular order other than my own personal preference and further – further ado…

5) In Soviet Russia…

Known as the Russian reversal – no that’s not something you can try in the bedroom – it was created by this guy:

Yakov Smirnoff

Welcome to the interwebz friend, I will be your guide.

Yakov Smirnoff is a Ukrainian born American comedian who came up with the classic Russian reversal back in the 80’s. The jokes goes something like this:

In America, you put ‘In God We Trust’ on your money.
In Russia, we have no money! 

It’s funny cause it’s true. (Right?) I actually have no clue, but you get the idea. The Russian reversal is now a staple of internet memeology (I totally made that word up.) The Russian reversal has taken on new forms since being brought back from 80’s and variations on this theme are a popular way to satirize what is happening in Russia.

It’s sister meme, if there is such a thing, would be the “Meanwhile in Russia” theme that has those words usually captioning some ridiculous thing that happens only in Russia. Like you know, Bear Cavalry.  Knowyourmeme.com is a great resource to find the backstory on any meme which means that’s pretty much where I “got” my expansive knowledge on this subject. But here’s the source.

An example of a modern take on this meme:

in Soviet Russia, Waldo Finds You

Waldo – Much bigger when you meet him up close.

4) Preved Medved!

Prived Medved, - Russian Bear Surprises Campers

Pictured: Preved Medved, distant relative to Pedo-bear

A painting by John Lurie was adopted and evolved into a Russian meme that’s been popping up all over the Federation (A much cooler name than just Russia), faster than a case of Yakov Smirnoff. Hitting it’s peak sometime in June of 2007 it’s still a great example of good ol’ Russian shenanigans.

Twitter screen grab of Preved Medved

Hint: It’s all about Preved Medved

A query on the Russian search site Yandex.ru (slightly explicit) brings up good examples of the evolution of this particular bear.

It’s even alive on the glorified facebook status site Twatter. I refuse to bring myself to take that site seriously and there’s nothing you can do to change that. (Clasps ears, lalalalalalala)

If any of you know Russian, welcome my fellow spies, you will notice that Preved is a wrong spelling of Privet (Hello). It’s on purpose. I am not quite sure I understand the reasons but apparently it’s a play on words. I guess you just have to be Russian. I am only a half-ling.

Combination Pedo-bear and Killroy was here with a healthy dose of political satire, Preved Medveds entire premise for a joke is just his presence.

Cracked does a great article on two of the memes I am mentioning. Also this.

3) Putin – Brosef Ballen’?

Putin in a Bear Coat

I can certainly see where he gets his charm.

 

Not much has to be said to know where this is going. I am fascinated by this man. He really is a force of nature. The man brought Russia back from the brink of economic ruin but at the cost of judo-chopping freedom in the neck.

This is where Prived Medved gets his political kick from. Medved is a play on Medvedev – the now former Russian President, who was largely seen as a lackey to the man George Bush once referred to as “Cold Blooded”.

If any of you haven’t been keeping up with the news from the Motherland; Medvedev served his term and Putin was re-elected – for his third term in office – because you know, why not? Oh and possible election fraud. But hey, what’s a good election without some scandals, or choice?

The man himself literally is a walking meme-generator. He took controls of a plane that was putting out wildfires since he was a trained pilot (not) and proceeded to show the pilots how putting out fires is all about. Prezident style.

When he’s not busy kicking fires in the teeth, he hunts tigers – with tranquilizer darts so it’s humane, judo chops his way into possibly competing in the Russian Olympic team, drives formula 1 race-cars like it’s no biggie, and generally likes to show everyone just how much bigger and badder his Machismo is by literally doing anything that looks cool.

Oh and let’s not forget he is a former KGB spy.

He’s got an incredible PR campaign that follows him around and records him doing stuff like this:

Putin hunting shirtless

Can we make our President’s do this?

 

You can see that this guy is a gold-mine. He’s got  pop songs written about him. Girls are sending him calenders full of “Tasteful” pictures for his birthday. Bensozia does a quick blurb on him and and to get you started on your journey to Putin picture land, here’s a magazine with some of his best bits.

Essentially Putin wants to be seen as this guy that can do anything. Wildfires? No problem. Terrorists – Bury them. Domestic resentment? Putin smash! And the image is working for him. This guy knows what he’s doing and he’s got a long term plan. I just hope I am on his good side.

Putin Flying on a Crane

Delivering babies to all Russian mothers himself.

2) PhotoExtreme

This is kind of like planking. Someone lies facedown across or on top of unique places and someone else takes a picture. This joke is someone planking. Russian’s probably didn’t get it as ending up lying face down on benches is a pretty common sight over there, or so I’ve heard. In PhotoExtreme the goal is to come up with a scenario and act it out with your friends then take a picture and post. Fun right? Well, as usual bonus points are awarded for “creativity” or as Russians like to call it, danger.

 

Russian Photoextreme meme

Apparently – this happens often

Passerby’s were treated to similar scenes all over Russia as netizens had some fun with their cameras. The goal is to depict some kind of scene. The weirder the better. This meme has elements of the flashmob as people in character chase zombies with chainsaws, hang out of windows, or take bath’s in the street all in broad daylight. It’s no wonder Russian’s never smile in public, they’ve probably seen some things man. It’s the wild west out there as far as the limits go. Cracked breaks it down even further.

1) Russian Youtube Videos

Russia itself has become a meme. It has become a symbol of extreme behavior. Youtube is filled with examples of students chugging vodka before class. Dashcam’s capture crazy driving on a seemingly daily basis and gangs of teenagers roam the city using the buildings as their own playground/gym. You gotta love it. Simply type Russia in Youtube and the world shows you how busy this country is.

From drunkards fighting in the streets to people throwing themselves in front of cars for insurance scams; this place has become the standard for extreme behavior.It’s really the level against which

Because anyone willing enough to do this has a lot more pirozhki’s than I do:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORA9CGTAR8w

Russian Homemade Bungee Jump

Did you watch that? Cause you should – it’s a homemade bungee jump. Let me re-emphasis the “homemade” in that sentence. In no way is this safe. Yet it’s the kind of behavior that’s prevalent amongst our Russian comrades on the side of the world – at least the virtual world.

Well what about other extreme sports? Parkour for example? Parkour? No problem. Here’s Russia’s answer to Parkour:

Russian At It Once Again

Yep – whatever it is, Russia probably has a more extreme version of it somewhere. I bet if they got a hold of that flying suit, they’d probably see how drunk they can get while they jump.

 

Manliness Level Russian meme

Why? Because Russia – That’s why

Lolwut?

So that’s it in a nutshell. Welcome to the wonderful world of memes. If this is your first time joining us it won’t be the last time seeing us. This is internet pop-culture and it’s going to be heard. The beauty of memes is that they’re made by the people. Anybody with a computer can create one about anything in the world. And it can go viral. That brings with it a certain weight that shouldn’t be disregarded.

I really think they should be given a lot more attention as an important part of public voice.  The ability to shoot your message all over the internet and have it be seen by millions of people. Then watch as it evolves, changes and ultimately becomes part of the internet culture can be extremely rewarding. So try making your own, it’s really not hard:

http://memegenerator.net/ – basic meme builder

 http://ragegenerator.com/ – rage comic builder

 

– Dima