Daily Dot Hall of Fame Week 5

Daily Dot Hall of Fame Week 5: Vanguards

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Kira Deshler

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Posted on Dec 4, 2023   Updated on Dec 5, 2023, 5:13 pm CST

There are “real-life” vanguards—tech geniuses, scientists, and the like— and then there are internet vanguards. Though the former group receives the bulk of our accolades, it’s high time we celebrate the heroes of cyberspace.

These are the individuals who changed the way we think, laugh, and even communicate through their propensity for viral moments and memes. Whether intentionally or not, these online legends captured our attention and defined our digital world simply by being their wonderfully unique selves. Take a gander at these five tastemakers and vote for your favorite. 

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Amelia Dimoldenberg

Amelia Dimoldenberg

If you had gone back ten years and told us that the two most important talk shows on the interview circuit in 2023 involved celebs eating chicken, we might not have believed you. Or perhaps we would have, because the internet has always been a weird place. Either way, it’s time we give thanks to one of the chicken-loving legends of our time: Amelia Dimoldenberg. You may know Dimoldenberg as the host of the wildly popular Chicken Shop Date series on YouTube, which has created numerous viral moments over the years. 

Like Sean Evans’ Hot Ones, Chicken Shop Date is an interview that involves both interviewer and interviewee feasting on chicken while chatting. In Dimoldenberg’s own words, her chats with celebs are “refreshingly awkward,” and her flirting style is unparalleled. One of her most trendy clips is the interview she did with Andrew Garfiel—a massive flirt himself—on the red carpet. Is it hot in here, or is that just their bonkers chemistry? But her most important contribution to the culture may be her interview with Louis Theroux, which delivered the famous “Jiggle Jiggle” rap. There is not an interviewer on earth like Dimoldenberg, and press tours would be so boring without her

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 Quinta Brunson 

 Quinta Brunson 

We featured Quinta Brunson in last year’s Vanguards Hall of Fame and her influence hasn’t died down since then, so she deserves another go. If you’re a sitcom fan, you probably know Brunson as the creator and star of Abbott Elementary, the award-winning series about teachers at an underfunded Philadelphia school. The show regularly produces viral moments, but Brunson has been internet royalty long before she conquered network TV. 

Like so many of our contemporary media personalities, Brunson got her start on the now infamously toxic workplace that is Buzzfeed. But Brunson was always destined for greatness, as evidenced by her many enduring memes, including the On Any Block video, people be gay, and the he got money clip. Despite Jimmy Fallon trying to steal her spotlight, Brunson shines bright no matter the circumstances, whether it’s writing a book or giving money to teachers

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Miss Juicy 

Miss Juicy

Like Tiffany Pollard before her, Miss Juicy is an original meme queen who deserves her flowers. Miss Juicy rose to fame as one of the stars of the Lifetime series Little Women: Atlanta, where her hilarious and relatable antics endeared her to many. From her I can’t do it outburst to what the hell we gone do now, she’s truly a woman of the people. You might not know it, but Miss Juicy is also one of the subjects of the Me Explaining to My Mom meme, which tore through the internet a few years ago

In addition to her reality star cred, Miss Juicy also loves singing, as demonstrated by her perfectly off-key performance of Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation.” It’s never entirely clear whether Juicy is in on the joke or not—remember when she dressed up as an elf and had NeNe Leakes incensed?—which only makes her attitude more hilarious. It’s Miss Juicy baby’s world, and we’re just living in it

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Ariana DeBose

Ariana DeBose

In her seminal 1964 essay “Notes on Camp,” Susan Sontag distinguished between two different types of camp: naive camp and deliberate camp. She goes on to suggest that naive camp is the more satisfying of the two. One of the most captivating instances of unintentional camp in 2023 came from Ariana DeBose, who performed a “rap” song at the BAFTAs in February. The song features lyrics such as “Michelle I’ve loved you from the start” and “Angela Bassett did the thing,” the latter of which became the most-quoted phrase of the month.

It’s likely DeBose was aiming for a classy yet entertaining opening musical number like Aubrey Plaza’s at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2020, and her total failure at achieving this is part of what makes it so amusing— and campy. If DeBose’s song had been a well-written, well-choreographed number, it certainly wouldn’t have taken hold of the internet like it did. It doesn’t seem like DeBose meant for her musical moment to become Twitter’s joke of the month, which is precisely why it became that. Angela Bassett did indeed do the thing, and we have DeBose to thank for reminding us of that. 

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Brian Jordan Alvarez

Brian Jordan Alvarez

Brian Jordan Alvarez is the Tatiana Maslany of TikTok, embodying multiple characters with the precision of a Shakespearean actor. No stranger to online popularity, his first brush with internet fame came from his creation of The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo, a web series that produced countless quotable sequences

Alvarez reached peak virality once again in 2023 with his endlessly remixed song “Sitting.” Technically, the song’s creator is TJ Mack, one of Alvarez’s many TikTok characters. (The others includeTJ’s wife, Timothy, Rich Southern Aunt, The Studempt, The Chef, The Alien, Marnie T, Rick, and Vardy.) The song starts—in TJ’s unrecognizable accent—with the lyrics “sitting is the opposite of standing” and goes on to extoll the virtues of the seated position.

It’s hard to explain why the song—and the rest of Alvarez’s videos—are so funny. His characters are all quite bizarre, with distorted facial filters and over-the-top vocal stylings. Perhaps it’s the fact that Alvarez started this project at the height of the pandemic, when our collective psyches had started turning to mush. His videos make little logical sense, but their absurdity is exactly why they’re so captivating. They’re the perfect medicine for the smooth brain-aspiring—no thoughts, head empty, just sitting.

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*First Published: Dec 4, 2023, 10:21 am CST