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Traitors! Judases! Benedict Arnolds! Human history is scattered with characters, previously thought loyal, who turned on their compatriots and stabbed them in the back—sometimes literally. And how should we discuss these figures? It seems obvious that the answer is “a meme from a video game about rocket-powered cars playing soccer.”
Reddit’s meme-rich forums are overflowing this week with “Change Team” memes, which pair infamous betrayals from history and pop culture with the pause screen from the popular vehicular soccer game Rocket League. The “change team” option is prominently highlighted.
Judas changed teams.
So did Anakin Skywalker:
Russia has changed teams:
So has Italy:
Heck, the U.S. may be changing teams right now:
Parts of the country have certainly changed teams before:
The “change team” feature was built into Rocket League to prevent lopsided matches when one team lost players—to change a 3-on-1 game into a 2-on-2 one, for example. Now it’s serving a completely different purpose: accusing people and countries of chickening out and turning traitor.
It’s also being used in problematic ways to discuss race and gender, mocking Caitlyn Jenner for being trans and Rachel Dolezal for being a white woman who identifies as black:
A number of posters on Reddit’s r/memeeconomy, a forum for speculation about the rise and fall of popular memes, have flagged “Change Team” as the next big thing.
It’s already making it to more mainstream “normie” sites, including junior varsity Reddit rival 9gag. Even a UC Berkeley meme page on Facebook has picked it up:
This is looking to be one of the stronger and more memorable memes of March 2017, but due to its increasing popularity, the fickle dank memers who helped make Change Team great may be about to hit pause and “change team” on it.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.