Culture 6 min read

Celebrate The Web's 30th Birthday With Classic Video Memes

30 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee began to develop what would become the World Wide Web. Believe it or not, the internet came from a need to track project information at CERN due to hardware compatibility issues. But why focus on technology when you can watch funny video memes instead?

Memes are easily one of the greatest side-effects of the Internet revolution. Here are some of our favorites. ¦ Pixabay

Memes are easily one of the greatest side-effects of the Internet revolution. Here are some of our favorites. ¦ Pixabay

It would be nearly impossible to compile ALL of the best memes of the last 30 years. In fact, it would be impossible to do so for the last five years. Due to the intrinsic features of the medium, modern memes are very ephemeral.

But visual/video memes tend to have more staying power — especially ones from the early 2000s.

In honor of the internet’s 30th birthday, I thought it would be fun to compile some of the best and most popular meme videos from across the ages. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Viral Videos of Cute Animals

America’s Funniest Home Videos played most weekends at my house. My parents loved laughing at clips of kids, animals, or adults falling, being silly, or being cute. But YouTube made it so that anyone, anywhere could upload a clip like that.

As you can imagine, cute animals became one of the first ever meme categories. Though the dramatic chipmunk seen above is one of the oldest, some classics include:

  • the infamous “ahh-waah” puppy
  • this cockatiel whistling the Final Fantasy victory fanfare
  • Parry Gripp’s animal video songs including this classic: Baby Monkey (Going Backwards on a Pig)
  • a very vocal and very ticklish camel

The Meme Heard ‘Round the World

You should definitely watch the video of this epic Star Wars scene before you finish this article.

No, really, I don’t mind at all and it won’t take you long; it’s only a couple of minutes. Take your time, too, it’s a great video! Totally worth watching.

You might already know what specific prank this video (among others) played on people. If you don’t, it’s a Rickroll. That is to say, it is a surprise addition of the song “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley.

This classic spawned a whole genre of “rolls” or audio pranks on people. My personal favorite is this “Batroll’d” video of Batman and Robin rolling on what may be piano strings. But honestly, it’s anyone guess at this point.

Virtual Stories Based in Other IPs Like Red vs. Blue

The shenanigans of Red vs. Blue Halo-inhabiting squads might be one of the most memorable cases. But more famous fan-created stories using already established IPs cropped up more and more thanks to YouTube.

Take, for instance, the indelible Harry Potter Puppet Pals or The Ultimate Showdown.

But smaller projects existed, too, like this awesome version of a song from the Final Fantasy 9 soundtrack. The user added lyrics to the song to further capture the personalities of the characters associated with the theme.

Another famous instance involves a mash-up of a classic 80s cartoon with a great 90s song. Yes, I mean the He-Man “What’s Going On” video.

My personal favorite in this section of video memes, however, is the Bad Lip Reading videos.

Remixes of Infomercials and Other Spoken Word

This might be one of the most memorable, but short-lived trends in video memes’ history.

Yes, it was colossally entertaining to hear these auto-tuned videos at first. But I look back on these with the least amount of nostalgia for some reason. Despite that, there are some total classics in the ranks.

There are definitely more, so please feel free to share your favorites in the comments.

Animated Memes and Product Placement Parodies

This visual meme medium included typography on top of silly animated videos. Some of them parodied existing commercials or animation types. Most famous, perhaps, is the Don Hertzfeldt animation including such hits as: “my spoon is TOO big!”.

Who could forget such incredible works of art including:

But this trend also included animating the works of stand-up comedians. This example of Mitch Hedberg’s “Search Party” stand-up bit is one of my favorite examples. It also, for better or worse, included Salad Fingers, SLOTH: Famo-Mortisol, and this “Dead Puppies” video.

The Beginning of the YouTube Celebrity

You might remember Kelly, the character presented in this video and the popular “Shoes“. But it’s just one of the characters Liam Kyle Sullivan portrayed in video memes. There’s also Cunningham Muffins which spawned many parody versions of itself.

There are also viral videos like Chris Crocker’sLeave Britney Alone“.

These kinds of sketches led to the creation of comedy troupes and YouTube celebrities. Think The Lonely Island, Dead Kevin, the Vlogbrothers, and more. Speaking of which, if you haven’t heard of Dead Kevin, please go check them out. They are hilarious and I wish they still made content.

Oh, and Fan-created Music Video Type…Things

Other video memes include random amalgams of culture smashed into one video. I stumbled on the one above in high school some time and, of course, watched it immediately.

A) I’m pretty sure this all uses real guns which is wild, B) they run through a few vignettes at the beginning including a “Strong Bad” from Home Star Runner portion, and C) it ends as a music video? I don’t really understand it, but humanity created it. Thanks, Internet!

For now, I’ll leave you with this eponymous internet classic, Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain”.

Read More: Bacteriography: How to Make Memes with Bacteria

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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