Home Emergency 'It's corn!' 'Dark Brandon' and 'girl explaining': A look at the most...

‘It’s corn!’ ‘Dark Brandon’ and ‘girl explaining’: A look at the most notable memes of 2022

Memes, for better or for worse, were there for all the highs and lows of 2022. Sometimes they made us cringe. Other times they helped us cope with the chaotic year of news. But most of the time, they kept “very online” people entertained.

This was a year when TikTok once again proved its might in terms of where some of the most prolific memes are born, said Don Caldwell, the editor-in-chief of the database Know Your Meme.

“In the earlier days of TikTok, the memes on there were kind of focused on trends and dance trends … things that were not necessarily matching the memes you would find on other platforms,” Caldwell said. “This year was different.”

How? Memes on the platform “got a lot weirder,” he said, citing Quandale Dingle — a meme about a fictitious football player — as an example (you can read more about its weirdness on the Know Your Meme database).

But TikTok wasn’t the only platform where memes — weird, random or just plain funny — blew up. You could find them across Twitter and Instagram, as well.

Here’s NBC News’ roundup of the 10 most notable memes of 2022.

10. ‘Dark Brandon

The meme, which started on Twitter in early 2022, depicts President Joe Biden as a laser-eyed edge-lord. Or, as Know Your Meme describes it, an “edgier version” of the president.

It was inspired by the far-right rallying call “Let’s Go Brandon,” a thinly veiled dig at the president. It was initially used, mostly by conservatives, in a “highly ironic” way, according to Know Your Meme, “with the memes mostly joking about Biden’s perceived senility.”

However, it has evolved into more of an “appreciation of Joe Biden and the accomplishments of his administration,” Know Your Meme said.

By August, it had become widely shared by Democrats, including Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut. The White House director of digital strategy, Rob Flaherty, even tweeted the meme that month.

9. ‘She’s/he’s a 10 but …’

It was the year of giving people their true rankings, and the “she’s/he’s a 10 but …” meme was the internet’s way of determining whether someone was dateable.

The trend originated on TikTok in May and gained further traction on Twitter after several tweets went viral on June 18, according to Know Your Meme.

It rates imaginary lovers on a scale from 1 to 10 based on their attractiveness before it presents negative or positive traits that might affect their scores.

8. ‘Honk shoo mimimi’

A man in a nightgown and a pointy cap. The Sleepytime Tea bear. Getting some shuteye was on many peoples’ minds in 2022, as the meme derived from the sound of people snoring in old-timey cartoons suggests.

The “honk shoo” and “honk mimimi” meme started appearing in tweets in late 2021, but it took off in 2022, with variations like being a “honk shoo” or a “honk mimimi” girl or putting “honk shoo mimimi” on your to-do list.

7. ‘negroni sbagliato … with prosecco in it’

A viral video, posted across social media by HBO in late September, features “The House of the Dragon” actor Emma D’Arcy sharing what their favorite cocktail is in an interview with their co-star Olivia Cooke.

D’Arcy’s pronunciation of their favorite cocktail had people online swooning.

No other drink has ever made the internet this thirsty, perhaps to the detriment of bartenders everywhere.

6. ‘Euphoria’ meme: ‘You better be joking’

Every year, we get a few exploitable, or easily changeable, memes that can be used in any reactive context.

This one from HBO’s “Euphoria,” in which Maddie (Alexa Demie) criticizes Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) over her outfit, has been the perfect retort to the internet’s most ridiculous questions and scenarios.

The show, which first aired in June 2019, has been a hit for HBO. Memes have made it only more popular, some experts and viewers said this year.

5. ‘Girl explaining’

The “girl explaining” meme actually began going viral in 2019 in Spanish-speaking circles, according to Know Your Meme. The girl in the image is Denise “Denu” Sanchez, who told Know Your Meme that the photo is of her and her then-boyfriend at a club in Argentina. They have since broken up.

The image looks as if Sanchez is shouting over loud club music to tell her then-boyfriend something, which is why people who used the meme format typed in all uppercase letters.

Whether it’s explaining what the Inflation Reduction Act is or why the Brooklyn Library is “fine free,” the most shouty memes of 2022 were conveyed through the “girl explaining.”

4. ‘Homelander gets applause’

At the end of season three of Amazon’s “The Boys,” the secretly villainous superhero Homelander breaks character and fires his laser eyes at a protester, killing him in front of a large crowd. Homelander is shell-shocked, but the crowd applauds, and his horrified look turns into a victorious smile and laugh.

Homelander’s reaction was clipped out of context and became a major meme reaction, usually to show that someone expecting a lot of backlash has gotten a surprisingly positive or neutral reaction.

The moment, as much of Homelander’s character seems to be, is a nod to Donald Trump’s famous 2016 campaign line that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not “lose any voters.” It’s a fitting tribute to the spirit of the era, which has been translated into humor through memes like Homelander.

3. ‘Morbius’/’It’s Morbin’ time’

In 2022, society learned it was not, in fact, Morbin’ time.

“Morbius,” a critically panned movie starring Jared Leto, was released in April. While it wasn’t a box office hit, the memes from the film — as well as the sentiment “It’s Morbin’ time” — went so viral that Sony Pictures re-released it in a limited number of theaters in June. But it bombed again.

Leto himself leaned into the meme. In June, he posted a video of himself reading what appeared to be a fake script titled “Morbius 2: It’s Morbin’ Time.”

But with the post came the unofficial death of the meme. This time, perhaps, with no chance for vampiric resurrection.

2. ‘It’s corn!’

There’s a good chance you’ve heard at least one person in your life declare “It’s corn!” That’s because the corn kid, a 7-year-old named Tariq, became one of the year’s most viral memes. In an interview with the YouTube channel Recess Therapy, Tariq was asked about at the corncob he was eating (or “big lump with knobs,” as he described it). Tariq’s unbridled joy and youthful wonder describing what many consider a mundane object captivated the internet.

“For me, I really like corn,” Tariq says in the original clip. He later adds, “When I tried it with butter, everything changed!”

In one of his most quoted lines, he said: “I mean, look at this thing. … I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing.” 

The interview was turned into a song by the YouTube group Schmoyoho. The video has been viewed more than 85 million times, and the audio has been used in 1.4 million posts on TikTok.

Tariq became a celebrity in his own right, even being named South Dakota’s corn ambassador, or “corn-bassador.”

1. ‘My money don’t jiggle jiggle, it folds’

A common theme of this year was that anything could be turned into a bop.

Before “Corn Kid,” a short video of documentarian Louis Theroux talking to Amelia Dimoldenberg on the web series “Chicken Shop Date” went viral and got the song treatment.

The clip, which was uploaded to YouTube in February, was remixed by TikTokers @dukeandjones and turned into a song. The song focuses on a part of the clip in which Dimoldenberg asks Theroux whether he remembers a rap he wrote and performed on an episode of the BBC 2 show “Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends.”

“My Money Don’t Jiggle Jiggle, It Folds,” has been viewed on the @dukeandjones TikTok account more than 80 million times and used in more than 6.5 million posts. As it exploded into a viral sensation, the song became a dance trend, it was used in animations, and it was even shared by Dimoldenberg herself.

Theroux also appeared in a video with @dukeandjones dancing to the tune.

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