American Chopper argument revs Twitter with resurgent meme

This motorcycle meme based on a father/son reality TV fight is suddenly everywhere. Could it be a PR stunt for the revival of the Discovery Channel show?

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
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Leslie Katz
2 min read

Never saw the reality TV show American Chopper? If you've spent any time on Twitter in the last week or so, you've probably seen enough of the retired show's two main characters to make up your cultural deficit.

A meme that's been brought back to life like some roaring Harley features a series of still images taken from video of Paul Teutul Sr. firing son Paul Teutul Jr. from Orange County Choppers, an upstate New York company where the pair worked together manufacturing custom motorcycles. Until papa called his son into his office and told him he'd had enough of his bleeping bleeping tardy, slacker ways.

The 2009 scene below captures Paul Teutul Sr. possessed with the kind of meme-worthy red-faced fury seen in the Downfall scene that spawned the famous "Hitler Reacts" meme. It's been years since the Chopper shoutout inspired an exploitable comic where the subject of the argument could be changed, but some good-for-any-occasion memes just aren't meant to die. 

Looks like it all began with a March 26 tweet from @_ericcurtin that has so far gotten 55,000 likes and 17,000 retweets. The resurgent American Chopper argument meme has inspired musings on subjects ranging from Star Wars, Blink-182 and Garfield the cat to redistricting. And, in a meta twist, it's stirred discussion on the nature of memes themselves and complaints about this meme making a comeback (NYMag.com explains why the image stack isn't optimized for smartphones).

Could this all be part of a PR stunt for the revival of the Discovery Channel series? In any case, you can get a sense of the angry-biker bits below.