The ‘Star Wars Kid’ and the Dark Side of the Internet

Several years ago, it was impossible to venture onto the Web without coming across footage of an ungainly lad doing his awkward best to reenact a Star Wars lightsaber battle. The "Star Wars Kid" -- as this clip became known -- was one of the Web's first truly viral videos and an incredibly popular meme. The video amassed tens of millions of views and inspired countless parodies and homages, including a particularly famous one by Stephen Colbert for his 2006 "Green Screen … [Read more...]

What Memes Mean: Why Memes Are Important (Part 2)

Each Wednesday in What Memes Mean, Kirk Bozeman questions the significance, humor, and subtexts of viral videos, memes, and other Internet fads.The term meme was coined by biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976 to posit how evolutionary principles might apply to culture at large. In Dawkins’s definition, a meme (he was intentionally trying to coin a word that sounded like gene) is an idea, habit, or phrase we pass from person to person within culture. Dawkins proposed that this worked according to a … [Read more...]