what year is it meme

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A short history of ‘What Year Is It?’ memes

The 'What Year Is It?' meme demonstrates the enduring nature of specific cultural moments when it comes to expressing universal human experiences.


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Jan 4, 2024   Updated on Feb 5, 2024, 9:59 pm CST

The “What Year Is It?” meme perfectly captures how our sense of time can get distorted, especially in this digital age. The image in the meme originates from a 1995 movie, and it has since evolved into a popular reaction image used to convey the disoriented feeling of time people often experience when waking up from sleep.

The origin of ‘What Year Is It?’

Jumanji, a fantasy-comedy film released in 1995, stars Robin Williams as Alan, a boy who emerges from a board game after being trapped in it for 26 years. “What year is it?” is Alan’s bewildered question upon being released from the game, and it forms the basis of this iconic meme.

Early use and spread

The first documented use of the image as a reaction meme appeared on the r/pics subreddit on Sept. 7, 2011. It immediately resonated with users, amassing a significant number of upvotes and spreading to other platforms and communities. The image gained notable popularity on the marijuana-related subreddit, r/trees, and the rage comic subreddit, r/f7u12.

The “What Year Is It?” meme later transcended its origin as a humorous reaction image to reflect broader societal sentiments. It spoke to the universal experience of losing track of time, whether due to mundane activities like napping or more profound disruptions in daily life.

Posts from the pics
community on Reddit

Evolution of the ‘What Year Is It?’ meme

The meme gained traction on platforms like FunnyJunk and Tumblr where users posted their own adaptations and interpretations. It also became a staple in rage comics and was used to convey the confusion a person feels after waking up or experiencing a lapse in their perception of time.

The “What Year Is It?” meme found renewed relevance in 2020 when it became a popular reaction during a year of homebound lockdowns. The meme provided a humorous take on the collective disorientation experienced during COVID-19, where everyone’s perception of time became skewed.

@thedanielgoogle WHAT YEAR IS IT?!? 🧔🏻 #coronavirus #quarrantine #selfquarantine #corona2020 #coronameme #jumanji #whatyearisit #onlineclass ♬ original sound – Dan Google

Jumanji’s enduring legacy

Beyond its entertainment value as a movie, Jumanji has left a lasting impact on meme culture. The “What Year Is It?” meme, in particular, continues to resonate with audiences years after the film’s release and also received a bump in popularity during the release of the recent remake starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart.

Every damn night.

Robin Williams’ cultural impact

Robin Williams, known for his stand-up skills and diverse character portrayals, profoundly impacted the world of comedy and pop culture as a whole. His role in Jumanji, among other critically acclaimed performances, has immortalized him in memes that continue to showcase his ability to evoke a range of emotions from audiences.

Timeless nature of the ‘What Year Is It?’ meme

The “What Year Is It?” meme demonstrates the enduring nature of specific cultural moments when it comes to expressing universal human experiences. While simple in its composition, this meme encapsulates a complex and universally felt experience, and highlights how a single frame from a movie can evolve into a shared symbol that resonates with a broad audiences.

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*First Published: Jan 4, 2024, 6:00 am CST