“Internet memes” in today’s popular culture are identified as images/macros with text paired with them to create a humorous effect. Originally, these “memes” originated as exclusive images and inside jokes to internet geeks and those friendly with the various lingo and culture used on the internet. Websites like 4chan, Reddit, and Know Your Meme are well known within internet culture for their use of these types of images. The images typically feature the heads of animals or celebrity figures, which are then paired with text messages that would relate to their own character personified in the image. It is the juxtaposition of the image with its text that the meme creator places on the images that connects with people and makes the image comedic. Eventually these images became quickly relatable to others, thanks to websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr just to name a few, and now they are seen all over the internet on a daily basis. Some popular and current examples could be Nyan Cat, Xhibit’s “Sup Dawg”, Hipster Kitty, and Pedobear, just to name a few, all with algorithms and formula’s to properly use them. Check your Facebook news feed right now, I’m sure a friend or two has shared some hilarious memes with you today. There’s your quick history on memes and viral internet sensations.
Condescending Wonka is a meme I would like to write a little more in depth about, Mr. Wonka’s quick witted and demeaning nature has been quite popular on my Facebook wall as of late. The images comes from a scene in the original “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” film where Gene Wilder’s “Willy Wonka” character asks the children if they are interested in his new invention, the Everlasting Gobstopper. The image is also used in the classic “You Must Be New Here” meme, which is a screen capture from this scene in the film. In conjunction with the character, Mr. Wonka is viewed as someone who likes to talk down to people, thus which is where his name “Condescending Wonka” comes from. Originally this image started out from another popular meme, “You Must Be New Here” meme which makes fun of noobs (or people who are new to something), and calls them out. Apparently this phrase has been used for many years, Know Your Meme credits this used since the 2000’s decade on various television shows, but I would like to say that it has been used earlier than that.
Shortly afterwards, in comes Condescending Wonka who is also referred to as “Creepy Wonka”, which is a modification of the “You Must Be New Here” meme. Typically Gene Wilder’s portrayal of Willy Wonka in the 1971 classic musical makes Wonka out to be a very eccentric and unusual sort who is not the most socially adept person. Condescending Wonka is a natural play on the patronizing and condescending nature of Willy Wonka. In layman’s terms, “condescending” means to stoop to someone’s level that you would regard as inferior to yourself. Basically, to talk down to someone and attack them indirectly. The meme could also signify irony and dry humor such as a popular meme from Reddit picturing a black Wiemaraner dog with the idea of “running a chocolate lab.”
While this form of humiliation is very demeaning and insulting to the subject of the condescension, it is often quite humorous to the other viewers, and thus is the reason why Condescending Wonka is one of the most shared memes on the internet today.