A short history of famous people talking about the memes they became

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The Independent Online

Singer Rick Astley has gotten two paychecks for participating in the meme he inspired — the Rickroll. He agreed to do the gigs (a Virgin commercial and a float on the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade) because “I thought it would be the death of rickrolling,” he said Friday in an Ask Me Anything on Reddit.

Did it work? Well, his parade cameo was in 2008, so obviously Astley was wrong about that.

People become memes on the Internet all the time, for better or for worse. When memedom hits someone who isn’t already famous, the effect is often life-changing and unavoidable. For a celebrity, a meme about them might seem like a small thing at first. But these things have a way of worming into their popular image, and changing it.

We’ve rounded up a collection of celebrities commenting on the memes that they’ve become on the Internet, for your reading pleasure:

“He just sent me an email — which was a Rickroll” 

The meme: Rickrolling

What it is: Oh for real? Okay, Rickrolling is when you trick someone into clicking a link on the Internet that, despite their expectations to the contrary, leads to the music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. The official music video for the song has more than 200 million views on YouTube.

As we mentioned above, Astley himself has participated in the meme:

What the celeb thinks: Although he’s commented on the meme before, Astley has been promoting his new album lately with a media tour. Here’s what he told the Canadian Press recently about how he found out about it:

“The first time I heard about it, to be honest, it was a friend of mine who lives in L.A., and I was actually on holiday at the time in Italy,” Astley said.

“He just sent me an email — which was a Rickroll — but I just thought it was an email with a link in it. Obviously, I didn’t know what it was.

“He did it a couple of times, and I kept emailing him back going: ‘What the hell are you doing? Okay, where’s the joke? I’m not getting this.’ Obviously, it’s slightly different when you are the Rick in Rickrolling.”

“It’s pretty special”

The meme: Unexpected John Cena

What it is: This meme involves interrupting an otherwise normal video or vine with wrestler John Cena’s WWE introduction theme. It is a much, much better version of the childhood “Interrupting Cow” knock-knock joke.

What the celeb thinks: GQ magazine asked Cena about the meme late last year.

The thing I’ve been dying to know for a few months now is if you’re aware of, and what you think about, the “Unexpected John Cena” meme that got popular earlier this year.

This right here is the litmus test. Because I’m kind of aware of what’s going on, and I’m fascinated with pop culture, and you can’t dictate pop culture. So when pop culture is kind enough to let you in, exploit you, and in a lot of cases make fun of you, and you’re just gonna be the vehicle to push this new gag, I totally embrace it. Whether it’s in praise or total humour, I don’t care. Just to be accepted at this point in my career, I think it’s pretty special. At the end of the day, I am overwhelmingly honored to interrupt such historic events.

Over the summer, Cena did an ad-fotainment bit with a wireless company where he recreated the meme in real life.

It’s pretty easy to see why Cena might embrace this meme. It is, overall, pretty flattering to him, which isn’t the case for every meme on this list.

“It’s amazing what goes viral these days”

“Cool to see a s—- angle turn into a meme.” 

The meme: Poot Lovato

What it is: A kind of unflattering cellphone photo of Demi Lovato was distorted and posted to Tumblr, where it was immediately memed as Lovato’s (fictional) twin sister, Poot. Tumblr users went nuts for this meme, and soon Poot had a backstory, and was the inspiration for fan fiction.

What the celeb thinks: Honestly, this is a pretty mean meme compared with the other ones on this list, so it’s understandable why Lovato appeared to have a negative reaction to it.

In a pair of now-deleted tweets captured by Cosmo, Lovato said (sarcastically, in all likelihood): “cool to see a s—-y angle turn into a meme that circulates the Internet to people’s amusement ha. Oh and to make actual ‘headlines.'”


The meme: Sad Keanu

What it is: Sad Keanu (Reeves). It’s a doctored meme, based on a photo of the actor sitting alone on a bench.

What the celeb thinks: Reeves appeared to find out about the meme in a 2010 Vulture interview. When asked if he’s seen “all the ‘sad Keanu’” images out on the Internet, Reeves said, “My publicist showed me the photo, but no.” The interviewer then proceeded to describe the meme to him and give several examples, but his reaction to a meme he’d never seen remained terse:

“Wow. So, what, now they’re putting me next to other objects?

Yes! For instance, right now I’m looking at you in some Banksy graffiti, you next to a panda. 

That’s so funny.

You with a cheerleader, but you don’t notice her …

Oh, that’s funny. So they like take paparazzi pictures and re-contextualise them? Funny.


Well, it sounds like harmless, good clean fun.”

A year later, he talked about it on the BBC.

“Do I wish I didn’t get my picture taken while I was eating a sandwich on the streets of New York?” he said, “Yeah? You know.”

“He don’t like it”

The meme: Crying Jordan.

What it is: A photo of Michael Jordan crying at his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 has become shorthand for sadness, particularly in sports.

Despite many attempts to kill off the very overused meme, it persists to this day.

What the celeb thinks: According to his spokeswoman? This is what Estee Portnoy told the Chicago Tribune in February:

“I don’t recall when we first started noticing it — everything explodes so quickly on the Internet, and suddenly it was everywhere. Everyone seems to be having fun with the meme and it just keeps going. We haven’t seen anyone using it to promote their commercial interests, which is something that we’re monitoring.”

But according to his friend and former teammate Charles Oakley? Jordan doesn’t like it.

Copyright: Washington Post