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Top ten Internet memes

Over the last decade, we've seen a massive number of funny videos, odd art, daft catchphrases and quirky trends on the Web. Here's our ten favourite viral memes

The Internet is a weird place. It has a weird way of making things wildy popular that would never have been famous before the 'copy-paste' generation of email, links, blogs and IM.

Over the last decade, we've seen a massive number of funny videos, odd art, daft catchphrases and quirky trends. These 'memes', as they're generally known, spread like wildfire over the Web, sometimes reaching millions of people within hours, and millions more within days. They're known as 'virals' for an excellent reason.

Over the next ten pages we're going to explore the world of Web memes and present our ten favourites. Welcome to viral chaos... -Nate Lanxon


Chris Crocker's 'Leave Britney Alone' Disaster

WARNING: Naughty language! 

The wonderfully bizarre Chris Crocker is a current Net celebrity, starring in his own series of openly attention-seeking videos about being gay in conservative Middle America and, notably, Britney Spears.

It's no secret that Spears' recent performance at a certain awards ceremony was laughable, and a horrible reminder of what happens when pop stars forget to just bugger off. Crocker's apparently heartfelt 'Leave Britney Alone' video has been viewed over 12 million times on YouTube (plus millions more re-posts) and attracted over 180,000 comments. Few of them complimentary or sympathetic.

Ashlee Simpson's 'I'm a fake' performance

Ah, Ashlee Simpson, another disposable pop princess with an incorrectly spelt name. In what was supposed to be a 'live' TV performance of one of her songs, someone backstage pressed play on the wrong tape, proving the audience and everyone watching on live TV that the show was a fake -- the whole thing was a lip-sync nightmare.

To compensate for the error, Simpson proceeded to pathetically dance around like a rabbit on stage. As the credits rolled at the end of the show, she blamed the band. Apparently they were 'playing the wrong song'. Rubbish.


Lolcats -- the captioning of amusing photos of cats -- are our favourite of all memes here at Crave. We regularly check the main lolcat Web site, icanhascheezburger.com, for new content.

Sometimes referred to as 'cat macros', lolcats build on the cuteness of cats and kittens by using language, a sort of pidgin, presumed to be typical of what a cat would sound like if it could speak. For instance, "Hello, I would like to eat a cheeseburger," becomes, "Oh hai, I can has cheezburger?"

Wikipedia has one of the best descriptions of how certain lolcats are made: "Another common lolcat displays a cat with a specific look, which is described by X, and the text, "Xcat is not amused" or "Your offering pleases Xcat." A version of this is also stated as "X cat is X," where X is an adjective."


The Evolution of Dance

The Evolution of Dance is the single most viewed video on the whole of YouTube, with over 60 million views. The 6-minute dance is performed by the admirably flexible comedian Judson Laipply, who melds some of the most popular dance routines for pop songs of the last half-century.

The video has almost 80,000 comments, and over a quarter of a million YouTube members count it as a favourite.

Dramatic Chipmunk

Dramatic Chipmunk is not actually a chipmunk, it's a prairie dog. But the 5-second clip of the little critter turning around to face a zooming camera -- as though a shocking truth has just been uncovered on a soap opera -- has been viewed countless millions of times across the Web. Truly creative new versions sprang up, such as the brilliant James Bond edition, seen here.

The original clip was actually taken from a 2001 appearance of the group MiniMoni on a Japanese morning TV show.

The 'Badger Badger Badger (Oh No, It's a Snake)' cartoon

Badger Badger Badger is an animation and song by Jonti Picking, the creator of the popular Weebl and Bob cartoons. Released in 2003, the Badger animation went viral and over the following years spawned several special editions created by Picking, and many comic parodies, including a real-life re-enactment performed by shameless obsessives a group of fans.

The 'Give-Me-$50,000-Not-To-Eat-My-Bunny' Campaign

Have you ever looked at the sweet, loving, innocent face of a young rabbit and thought to yourself, "My, that looks hella tasty"? Well, someone did, and he set up a Web site claiming that if he didn't receive $50,000 (£25,000) in donations, he'd eat the baby bunny. Obviously, animal rights activists were somewhat unhappy with the arrangement, and the situation received worldwide coverage.

The site remains online, and promises that Toby remains uneaten.

The Star Wars Kid

A 14-year-old French Canadian student decided one day to pick up a golf ball retriever and pretend, on camera, that it was a Star Wars lightsaber. It was initially shared in 2002 as a stand-alone video file on the Kazaa file-sharing network. Eventually, it hit YouTube.

Although YouTube claims the clip has been viewed over three million times, The Viral Factory, a viral marketing agency, claims the video has been viewed a total of 900 million times, making it the most viral of all viral video clips. That may explain why Star Wars Kid's family filed a class-action lawsuit against the parents of the mean bullies who uploaded the video. They wanted CA$250,000 (£125,000), claiming the boy 'will be under psychiatric care for an indefinite amount of time'. They won $351,000 (£177,000).

The 'Series of Tubes' Speech

WARNING: Naughty language!

"The Internet is not a big truck... it's a series of tubes." These were the infamous words spoken by ageing US Senator Ted Stevens, during a speech arguing against Net neutrality in 2006. The analogy was so utterly ill-informed, and the result of such a complete misunderstanding of the fundamental structure of the Internet, that Stevens was ridiculed worldwide. The real problem is that a man with considerable power to change the Internet has no understanding of what the Internet is.

Many, many viral videos and multimedia mickey-takings have since been made, and even the killer Xbox 360 game Gears of War included an achievement called 'A Series of Tubes', which players received after hosting and completing 50 ranked matches on Xbox Live.

One of the most popular viral videos containing Stevens' catchphrase is seen above, and takes the form of a song that includes many quotes made by Stevens on that fateful day.

All Your Base Are Belong To Us

Zero Wing is a Japanese videogame from 1989. When it was converted for release in the West, the English translation was done so poorly that none of the speech made any sense. The famous line spoken by an enemy character in the game, "All your base are belong to us", became, and remains, one of the most famous gaming quotes of all time.

Countless parodies, videos and songs have been made over the years, one of the most popular of which is featured above.