Best Of 2012

The 50 Greatest Internet Memes of 2012  

Danielle Dauenhauer
595.5k views 50 items

These are the best Internet memes of 2012. Funny memes happen once in a blue moon, but new memes happen about 10 times per day at this point. Narrowing them down is ridiculous work, so we asked our own JF Sargent for help on this one. Here's what he had to say about his half of the list:

I think I'm just gonna be frank here: I am, right now, insane. I shouldn't be. I should be the picture of mental health, like I was yesterday. But that was before I agreed to catalogue the best memes of 2012 for Ranker. Before I agreed to comb through an entire year's worth of Internet, find the stuff it found interesting and then (this is the part that made me insane) explain why that stuff is interesting to you.

And that's the problem. Memes can't be explained, or catalogued, or understood. They can't be reasoned with. They can't be bargained with. They don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and they absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

So that's what he had to say. So from "Gangnam Style" (this year's "Friday"), to a spoiled girl named McKayla Maroney, to the Overly Attached Girlfriend that ended up capturing everyone's heart, to memes that actually seem like they've been around longer but hit their peak this year, to the most recent Ikea Monkey, to the always adorable and amazing Grumpy Cat, here are the 50 most funny memes of 2012. Because you deserve it.

So let's check 'em out. Here are the funniest memes of 2012. Enjoy!

Gangnam Style
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

"Gangnam Style" is kind of a big deal. Like, approaching a billion views on YouTube big. The lead single from Korean pop singer PSY's sixth album, PSY 6 (Six Rules), Part 1, "Gangnam Style" immediately started making waves on the Korean charts and began racking up YouTube views as soon as it was released in July. It started "slow" compared to where it's at now, generating about 9 million views a day in its first two months, and soon surpassed Justin Bieber's "Baby" video as the most-watched video ever posted on YouTube.

I repeat, he unseated Justin Beiber as King of YouTube. If ever there was a sign the Mayan apocalypse may yet be delayed, this certainly qualifies.
So what is this video, which as of December 18th has over 982 MILLION views, all about? It's about the posers that claim to be part of the opulent, Beverly Hills-like lifestyle the people that live in the Gangnam area of South Korea. Says PSY: 

"People who are actually from Gangnam never proclaim that they are—it's only the posers and wannabes that put on these airs and say that they are "Gangnam Style"—so this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they're not".

And dance fighting; serious, Derek Zoolander-inspired dance-off intense dance fighting. Aside from being a send-up of the poser culture, the mass appeal of the video centers around the intense choreography of PSY and his crew in the video including, but not limited to, the "horse dance" and the elevator shake. As you can probably tell by the number of views the music video has recorded, people cannot get enough of PSY and "Gangnam Style".

He's become such a cross-over hit that he's appeared on the VMA's, Ellen, Jay Leno, and even a hilarious sketch with Seth McFarlane on Saturday Night Live.

In October, as demand for PSY was hitting a fever pitch, he did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) for Reddit. These were some of the best Q & A's of the hour-long session.

Q: Why were you so mad at that girl’s ass? 
 A: Because her ass was so mad.

Q: Can I come and hang out with you in Seoul? 
A: Call me maybe.

Q: If you could collaborate on a song with any one artist / band, who would that artist be? 
A: I love so many but if I had to choose one, Justin Bieber.

(PSY! NO! Don't you know that a collaboration with the Beebs has the potential to bring on the apocalypse? Don't do it!)

Q: Do you have a favorite Gangnam Style “spoof” video? 
A: Ohio University marching band. 

Also tops on the list of Gangnam Style parodies are: 

Mitt Romney Style: 

Lifeguard Style (sidenote: all of the lifeguards in this video were fired for improper use of public property after the video went viral): 

Baby Gangnam Style: 

 On top of the countless gifs, video parodies, and reenactions, the song is now available in American karaoke establishments as well. There is no escaping "Gangnam Style" (not that you'd want to). And hey, if this wasn't enough Psy for you, check out the Ranker list of The Best Gangnam Style Parodies .

Election 2012 is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 50 Greatest Internet Memes of 2012
Photo: via Wikimedia
Election 2012

There were so many awful/awesome things that happened on the road to the 2012 Presidential election this year that they get their own sub-heading.
Binders Full of Women

The American public likes to pick and choose what it remembers about, well, everything. You know what I remember from Etta James' funeral earlier in the year? Christina Aguilera's potential, um, "lady malfunction".

Didn't even remember it was Etta James that died (sorry, Aretha, thought it was you), but had a vivid recollection about the mystery slime trail debate. Was it bronzer? Was it her time of the month? We'll never know.

What we DO know is that Mitt Romney has binders full of women.

In response to a question about equal pay for women at one of the Presidential debates, the ex-candidate answered

“I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks?' and they brought us whole binders full of women".
Need a lady to do the job? Go see Mitt, he's got binders full!

This was about the only thing America cared about that came from that debate, and reactions were immediate and sublime.

There was even a song, which you can listen to if you want to be humming "Binders Full of Women" for the rest of the day.

Orange Face Mitt Romney
Since we're already on the topic of Mitt Romney doing weird stuff, let's talk about his visit to Univision.

He looks like mother loving Snooki. It didn't really take off in the macros, but there was A LOT of speculation on message boards and the media alike that the governor had dyed his face to appeal to the Latino voting base. Legit, the guy looked like he'd spent the weekend with Tan Mom. 

Clint Eastwood and Invisible Obama

Surely, in an election year where Karl Rove had a public meltdown on Fox News, there couldn't be anyone crazier that the actual political players that would emerge from the election coverage, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong. (In case you're wondering, that is a John Wayne quote, but there's no way- on that night- that Clint would have known he didn't say that).
That is the video of Clint Eastwood having a conversation with an imaginary President Obama at the Republican National Convention in August. Eastwood made a surprise appearance at the RNC and posited questions like "how do you handle promises you made when you were running for election?" to a non-existent political figure. At one point in the "interview", he said to the Obama chair, "I'm not gonna shut up. It's my turn" which was super laughable because the 11-ish minute rant ran well over time and pushed the appearance of Mitt Romney out of primetime. Whomp whomp. 
The internet responded to the appearance immediately, natch. "Eastwooding" images (pictures of people pointing at empty chairs) started popping up right away.

And other popular meme figures found their way onto that empty stage to keep Clint company.

SNL put in its two cents, of course. Not that they really needed to spoof what was already coming off as a complete farce.

The best response, however, came from the POTUS himself.

Beef Cake Paul Ryan

We learned in the 2008 Presidential Elections that the last thing a Vice Presidential candidate needs is an IQ over 80, so is there really any shock associated with the GOP's nomination of a jock to run as VP on the 2012 ticket? THIS jock:

Notice anything odd about that photo (besides everything)? Look again.

This photo was taken for Time Magazine. TIME. Not The Onion, not Fitness Weekly, TIME. The photos, taken in 2011 when Ryan was being considered for the Person of the Year cover, were released hours before the Vice Presidential Debate. We see what you did there, TIME. Did I mention there were pictures (plural)?

Has Paul Ryan heard of the internet, viral images, and/or Beats by Dre? I just don't understand. Here's how the internet interpreted the situation.

Mitt Romney to Big Bird: "I Will Cut You"

Again, as witnessed with the Binders Full of Women incident, the American public has a soft spot for the things that could be instantly memed, and in the first Presidential debate, it was Mitt Romney's statement to PBS journalist Jim Lehrer, the moderator, that if elected he would cut funding to PBS. Said Mittens:

“I’m sorry Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS, I like PBS, I love Big Bird, I actually like you too, but I am not going to keep spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”

In 2009, Sesame Street received $7.9 million in government funding. But, hey, that's really the feather that broke the trillion dollar deficit's back, right? People were pissed that of all the things Romney could pick on, it was the sweet, lovable giant bird we all grew up with. The gentle giant who totally didn't care when we hung out and bogarted all the Snack Packs for ourselves. THIS is who Romney wanted to pick a fight with. Well, he got the claws (claws are what birds would fight with, right?)

On November, the Million Puppet March (redubbed from Million Muppet March) descended on Washington DC to show support for the cause of Big Bird and other performers with hands up their asses that didn't belong to big corporate interests. 

If you're looking for more Election 2012 meme coverage, check out the complete list
Grumpy Cat is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 50 Greatest Internet Memes of 2012
Photo: via Imgur
Grumpy Cat

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

Dude. Let's paint some people, film it, and play a song over it. I bet we can totally get more views than those jerks pouring milk all over themselves.
350 million views on YouTube. People watched Wally De Backer (aka Gotye) and Kimbra get painted and cry about a breakup so many times that it inspired a bunch of others to get in on the saddo gold. 
Like Canadian band Walk off the Earth who filmed the five members of their band simultaneously playing the song on one guitar (no cups). Closing in on 140 million views.

Singer Israel Curtis, who was really pissed (like everybody else living on Earth and breathing) about the "Nooooooo" heard 'round the world (or at least in a galaxy far, far away), gave the song a Star Wars flare.

And then the Grammys gave it a nomination for Record of the Year to go along with its nomination for an MTV VMA for video of the year, so expect to hear about Wally's love life in song for a while yet.