Here they are, for better or worse, five of the major cultural signifiers of the Western world this year. So, what do our favourite memes of 2011 say about us? Certainly that our creativity is limitless, that we love a sense of danger and that our noses all look like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, every one of us.
This 8-bit animation of a cat with a Pop Tart body flying through space was first created by illustrator Chris Torres on his site LOL-COMICS on April 2nd 2011.
Three days later, on April 5th, saraj00n took Torres' Pop Tart Cat and set it to the popular Japanese vocaloid song "Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya" and called the video "Nyan Cat". It got over 1 million views in the first two weeks and currently has over 55 million views and many copies and tributes, including games and entire sites dedicated to "nyaning". On Youtube, you can now find a Mexican Nyan Cat, a British Nyan Cat, a Canadian Nyan Cat, a Naan Cat (from India, of course) and my favourite, the Greek Nyan Cat, featured below.
The planking photo fad really took hold when pro-rugby player David "Wolfman" Williams planked during a game in March 2011. Then Bieber did it, Ellen Page did it, Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard did it and countless more plebs and celebs. Acton Beale, a young Australian, even died attempting to plank from a seventh floor balcony. Still, the trend thrived.
Canadian Tom Green, who hosted our CBC Live Green Room at this year's Gemini Awards, proved that he was the first planker later that year by digging up this clip from 1994.
Then owling and batmaning took off in August - one far more dangerous (and dumb) than the other. And our personal favourite, stocking, involved the fun (and safe) recreation of stock photography. Check out ours below.
Celebs planking and owling clockwise from top left: Justin Bieber and friend, Hilary Duff, Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, Joe Jonas and Jojo Wright, Chris Brown, Katy Perry, Rosario Dawson on Jimmy Kimmel's desk.
In early December, Toronto couple and comedy duo Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard posted "Shit Girls Say" on Youtube and it immediately went viral. It currently has over 6.8 million views and they've posted a Part 2 and 3. Although this meme is in its infancy, it's going strong, with many video responses, like Shit Black Girls Say, Shit Gay Guys Say and so on.
It started as a Twitter account that the guys created in April based on, well, shit they heard girls say. Sheppard, who's also a music video director and recently shot the cover of Feist's latest album, told the Toronto Star, "We started out just wanting to Tweet. It was totally a lark."
"We thought it would be fun to expand it into a film, because I'm a director and we thought it would be a fun project. It seemed to make sense and then Juliette [Lewis] came on board, which took it to the next level".