The “Shocked Black Guy” meme, also known as “Surprised Black Guy,” captures a widely recognized image of comedian Jslutty with an exaggerated look of shock on his face. Since its inception in 2022, the meme has been used extensively on platforms like X, formerly known as Twitter, and Discord to signify surprise and astonishment.
Origin of the Shocked Black Guy meme
The roots of this meme can be traced back to November 17th, 2020, when YouTuber FunnyMike uploaded a video titled, “AALIYAH WROTE JAY AN APOLOGY LETTER & MARK WANT DESIREE AND HANNAH!” In the video, Jslutty, another YouTuber, is seen making the now-infamous shocked expression, characterized by bulging eyes, an open mouth, and hands placed behind his head.
In June 2022, this specific frame from the video began its internet journey. The earliest documented use on X, formerly known as Twitter, was on June 27th, 2022, by user @inimloom1, in response to another tweet.
From there, the meme’s popularity as a reaction image skyrocketed. Posts of the image went viral throughout July and August, with users adding their own comedic spin on the image. For instance, one post by user @wakeupkaii humorously captioned the meme as, “my shampoo bottles hearing the comebacks I made up in the shower.”
The ‘Shocked Miles Morales’ spinoff
The meme’s widespread use led to the creation of a number of spin-offs, such as the “Shocked Miles Morales” meme. This iteration uses the original meme but replaces Jslutty’s face with the face of character Miles Morales from the 2018 film, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and its 2023 sequel “Across the Spider-Verse.” Posted in June 2023 by X user @raflizi26, this version, too, gained traction as a reaction image on various social media platforms.
2099 when you tell him you got shocked by Miles Morales pic.twitter.com/RGgi0vxb6u— CHAOS | Delusional | ❆ (@_GenChaos) June 8, 2023
Meaning and application of ‘Shocked Black Guy’
At its core, the “Shocked Black Guy” meme serves as a commentary on events or revelations that evoke intense surprise. The most engaging renditions depict a before-and-after scenario, highlighting the shock factor. However, like many internet sensations, it also has the potential for misuse.
The ‘Shocked Black Guy’ meme and a note on digital blackface
While memes are often celebrated for their humor and relatability, they can sometimes veer into contentious territory. The “Shocked Black Guy” meme, like other Black imagery online, has occasionally been co-opted by White individuals in instances of “digital blackface.”
This refers to White individuals play-acting at being Black by appropriating Black expressions, slang, or cultural elements for comedic or emotional purposes online. Cultural critic Lauren Michele Jackson, in an essay for Teen Vogue, noted that the internet often sees White individuals indulging in exaggerated displays of Blackness, perpetuating stereotypes and reducing Black experiences to mere hyperbole.
The “Shocked Black Guy” meme has brought humor and relatability to many, but if you’re not a member of the Black community, it’s essential to approach the meme’s use with cultural sensitivity and awareness.