These days, it seems like every day brings something new from the world of memes. We can’t scroll past one Instagram explore screen without spotting a Game of Thrones meme. From Game of Thrones to Big Little Lies, it seems like every major show has created hundreds of memes. But, the king of them all? The Surprised Pikachu meme.
This meme came about in 2012 when an unknown person uploaded this video onto YouTube. It has since gone viral and was even made into a meme by a YouTuber named “Crazy4Cheddar.” It’s a really good example of how a simple meme can go viral. So what is the Surprised Pikachu Meme? In the video, you see a group of children play Pokemon Go.
Introduction of Pikachu
Pikachu is an electric-type Pokémon. He debuted in the first episode of the TV show and helped Ash Ketchum beat the evil Team Rocket. He was just a cute, adorable little squirrel until he gave us the “shocked” face on a fateful day. Now we miss him like our first love. We still remember you, Rhonda! When Angela posted the above reaction meme to her Poppoko Tumblr account on September 26th, 2018, it became an internet sensation. People have been using it for years now as a sarcastic response to a predictable outcome.
However, if you’re a person with a disability and you use this meme as a way to cope with your life, then you’re an asshole. It’s not like the meme is exclusive to those with disabilities. It can be used by anyone who doesn’t want to participate in a conversation, doesn’t want to make eye contact, or doesn’t want to be reminded of how much they hate themselves. There are so many disabilities that it’s hard to narrow down to just one. The one that gets the most press is autism.
Surprise Pikachu’s Stealth Marketing Meme
According to Nielsen, only a small number of households were surveyed. Therefore, the data isn’t enough to calculate exact TV viewership figures, but it is enough to identify trends. The meme system I would use would be similar: I would download some of the most popular images uploaded online each day and then run a machine-learning classification model to determine whether a meme template was used in each image.
I analyzed the top 10 memes throughout 2018 by downloading 400,000 images and creating a running chart. Below are the results. The notorious Drake meme was most popular overall, followed by the expanding brain. However, if I looked at the data more closely, I would find another, more surprising meme. I was suspicious of meme number four.
Pikachu Post Spreading on Social Media
The post began appearing on other websites in the following days. There were 880 points gained on September 30th on /r/MemeEconomy. The meme appeared on Facebook’s Meme Extreme page on October 2nd, garnering over 3,900 likes and reactions, as well as 4,000 shares. More captions accompanied the image as October progressed. In particular, the format gained popularity on /r/me_irl. A post using the format gained over 3,900 points on October 14th (shown below, left). Over 6,200 people viewed a blurry post explaining the effects of prolonged computer use on eyesight (shown below, right) on the 24th.
The format was used to mock Donald Trump’s proposed tax reform plan, still under development. The meme also appeared on the subreddit r/Economics and the website RedditGifts. Origins and reception The format originated on Reddit in the form of a picture of a man in a suit, captioned “I’m not rich because I have an MBA”. The original post has been removed from /r/me_irl but is available through the Wayback Machine. The image was submitted by a user named “jmckay”,who other users criticized for using the “joke” format.