"Hey man, can you direct me towards some wtf images that got popular on the internet and spawned memes? I'm doing an essay on why weird shit is so popular on the internet, and I need some stuff that my somewhat savvy teacher may recognize."
Asked by princess-shitstain
Well, normally I’d tell you to do your own damn homework and get off my fucking lawn, but I’m not actually that grumpy and I love this stuff. Lucky you!
There’s actually a couple of these, but some may be too obscure for your purposes. The ultimate example is probably Slenderman (and, by the way, I have a post about him coming soon). He started out as a set of photoshopped images on Something Awful and quickly grew a huge, sprawling mythology and fan following. Now he’s practically mainstream. If I were you, I’d focus most of my attention there.
There are several others, as well. Smile Dog was pretty popular for a time. I’m pretty sure the picture came first in that case and the meme grew up around it. The original is simply a poor photoshop of a dog with human teeth, and someone took that and invented an interesting story to go with it. The story was good enough to keep it moving, and now the original picture is usually substituted with a newer, better-quality one. So the internet has retroactively tried to make it scarier and reinforce its legend, kind of like re-telling a scary story and giving it gorier details.
A more recent example (from this year) would be Mr. Bones’ Wild Ride. It started out as a series of screencaps showing a real player’s Rollercoaster Tycoon park with a never ending ride. It ended up morphing into its own universe, with fan images, stories, and even a t-shirt, apparently. (Similarly, the ten-year Civilization II game that Karl Smallwood, Max Yezpitelok, and I wrote about in this article has grown a large following that produces fan art, original fiction, etc.)
Good luck on the essay.