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Daily Dot Hall of Fame 2023 Week 2: Urban Legends

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Kira Deshler

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Are you ready to be amused, perplexed, and a little scared? Welcome to Week 2 of The Daily Dot’s 2023 Hall of Fame.

Our “Urban Legends” category includes all things strange, silly, and spooky. The internet may have grown out of its creepypasta days, but there are still plenty of viral sensations that hinge on the side of macabre.

These five worthy nominees exemplify how beautifully weird the digital world can be, and you should really know their names. Enter if you dare

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Poot

Poot

2015 was a great year for memes, but none were as inexplicably hilarious as the internet’s banished stepchild, Poot. The original image of Poot came from a highly unflattering photo of Demi Lovatoon the red carpet, and her legend grew from there. Social media users quickly latched on to the “character,” and they theorized she was Lovato’s long-lost twin who had been trapped in the basement for years. While Lovato was critical of the meme at first, she learned to live with her doppelganger. In 2018, a fan asked Lovato a question about Poot and she responded “Poot is locked up. She’s allergic to sunlight.” 

You might think a meme that emerged eight years ago would be lost in the sands of time by now, but you’d be wrong. While celebrating her 31st birthday in August of 2023, Lovato shared her three birthday cakes with followers on TikTok. “This one is so gorgeous, this one is so cute, and this one is so POOT,” she says, panning over a box of small cakes with Poot’s face on them. “FREE POOT😂,” reads the caption. Poot may be locked in a dark basement somewhere, but she’s still in our hearts

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Alien Corpses

Alien Corpses

The existence of aliens is one of the internet’s favorite topics of debate, and every year presents new conspiracies. A former US intelligence official testifying before Congress about the presence of UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) and “non-human biologic” remains sent alien lovers into a frenzy earlier this year. But the most meme-worthy extra-terrestrial spectacle came just a month later when Jaime Maussan, a journalist and ufologist, unveiled two supposed alien corpses to Mexico’s parliament. 

Maussan’s “discovery” was promptly debunked by internet sleuths and scientists alike, and the prevailing theory states that the corpses are a mixture of human and animal detritus. The fact that these alien remains are an obvious hoax didn’t stop the memes from rolling in—indeed, the phoniness likely encouraged the memesters. One X user noted that the alien corpses looked suspiciously similar to the aliens in Men in Black, while others felt a kinship with the decrepit creatures. Few people actually thought this urban legend was the real deal, but these (fake) alien corpses epitomized a sort of cultural malaise, and the brief joy they brought us is worth commemorating.

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M3GAN

M3GAN

The rapid advancement of technology has long been fodder for horror stories, and M3GAN, the AI doll from the movie of the same name, is a recent example of this cultural obsession. The only difference? She slays. M3GAN captured the hearts of internet users before the film even came out. After the trailer premiered, a clip of the murderous doll dancing in a hallway went viral, and fans readied themselves to root for M3GAN as she committed numerous homicides. Like the Babadook before her, M3GAN immediately became a gay icon. Why? Because she serves c*nt

Fans were delighted to watch M3GAN (literally) slay her way through the film, which includes a sublime lullaby sequence where M3GAN sings Sia’s “Titanium” to her young charge. It’s been ages since we’ve had a horror icon as c*nty as M3GAN, and her legend status is beyond reproach

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Grimace

Grimace

Unless you’re a die-hard McDonald’s fan, you probably didn’t know who Grimace was until earlier this year. Grimace—a large purple creature who serves as the company’s mascot—first debuted in a 1971 commercial and was initially a villainous character who stole people’s milkshakes. As part of a convoluted marketing strategy, McDonald’s announced that Grimace’s birthday is June 12 and released the Grimace birthday meal (which included the Grimace shake) in his honor. Who or what Grimace is remains in contention—he’s either an enormous tastebud, a milkshake come to life, or maybe just a big purple blob. 

Because the internet is a very strange place, McDonald’s customers had some creative reactions to the now (in)famous Grimace shake. TikTokers started a trend wherein a user drinks the Grimace shake and then “dies” or passes out on the ground, often with purple vomit nearby. The videos are essentially short horror films with a darkly artistic bent. It’s unclear if this sinister publicity was good for McDonald’s or not, though it could be said we’re all just brand ambassadors now. Grimace went from thieving villain to cuddly mascot to…serial killer? It’s a character arc Ronald McDonald never could have predicted.

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Loab

Loab

Loab is by far the creepiest figure in this year’s Urban Legends category, so if you’re easily freaked out, you might want to look away

AI has created all kinds of strange “art” as of late, from the eerily perfect to the macabre. Loab is firmly on the latter end of the spectrum, and her existence haunts the digital galaxy. Loab was created by artist Steph Swanson, who goes by the name Supercomposite online. Swanson generated Loab—a disturbing-looking woman with rosy cheeks—by using a negative prompt weight, which instructs the AI to produce the opposite of a given subject. Loab was the result of a reverse of a reverse prompt about Marlon Brando.

The prompt kept producing Loab again and again, which is not usually how AI behaves. Weirder still was the fact that when crossbred with other images, Loab’s presence always produced a horrific, gory landscape, often depicting bloody or maimed children. When Swanson combined Loab with other images enough times, she would eventually disappear—only to reappear again, without warning. “She is an emergent island in the latent space,” as Swanson put it. 

Loab’s virality is a callback to the creepypasta days, except this time its artificial intelligence scaring the living daylights out of us. As unsettling as Loab is, the internet still found a way to make memes out of her, because humor always prevails. 

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