“The More You Know” meme was born from a series of public service announcements (PSAs) on NBC, and has evolved into a widely recognized cultural phenomenon. This meme has become synonymous with the sharing of knowledge, often in a humorously or ironic manner, and has seen numerous iterations in the digital world.
Origin of ‘The More You Know’ PSA
The original “The More You Know” PSA aired on NBC in September 1989. The educational messages typically featured a celebrity delivering an educational message, and concluded with the iconic animated comet trail with the words “The More You Know,” created by Paul Johnson.
The series was introduced on Sept. 9, 1989 by American journalist Tom Brokaw who spoke about the importance of education.
Over the years, hundreds of celebrities have participated in the campaign, including Jennifer Aniston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The series has also won several awards and has been parodied on various TV shows, marking its entry into popular culture.
Evolution into a meme
The transition of “The More You Know” from a PSA to a meme began around 2006 with parodies appearing on various TV shows. Imitations of the ad have appeared on shows like “Will & Grace,” “30 Rock,” “American Dad!,” “Family Guy,” “Drawn Together,” and “Scrubs.” Conan O’Brien’s recurring bit on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “The Daily Show’s” segment called “The Less You Know” further popularized the campaign.
These parodies often lampooned the solemn tone of the celebrity spokespeople in the ads and twisted the PSA format to deliver unexpected or absurd messages. By 2007, YouTube and other online platforms also saw an increase in these imitation videos, with MetaCafe, CreativeCow, and Funny or Die all getting in on the act.
The meme was eventually simplified into an image macro that featured incorrect or humorous facts, followed by “The More You Know” logo. The phrase also found its way into the comments on Reddit and as a hashtag on Tumblr and Twitter.
The enduring legacy of ‘The More You Know’
“The More You Know” meme has been used to humorously, incorrectly, and absurdly communicate misinformation. Its rise in popularity can be attributed to its TV nostalgia, the catchy jingle, and the memorable shooting star animation.
This meme is a testament to the enduring impact of NBC’s PSA campaign. Its evolution from a series of educational messages to a versatile meme format reflects media consumption’s changing landscape and humor’s power in digital communication.
@_videojames_ Glad I’m pretty dumb #fyp #fypシ #meme #moreyouknow #StJudeDadPhotos #voiceover #voiceactor #memes #relatable #mood #asmr #vibes #funny #suffering #smart #nostalgia #knowledge ♬ original sound – Video James
As the meme continues to be adapted and used across various platforms, it remains a significant part of internet culture, symbolizing the blend of education, humor, and irony in the digital age. It also highlights how a simple message can be repurposed and reimagined to resonate with contemporary audiences, maintaining relevance and appeal in the ever-evolving world of memes and digital communication.