In October, web_crawlr readers like you will vote on 5 categories—each made up of 5 nominees offered up by the editorial staff—and the 5 winners will become the inaugural Daily Dot Hall of Fame inductee class.
Today, the nominees are part of the “Deceased Icons” category—in meme-orium. Check out more about the hall of fame here.
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Week 4: Deceased Icons
We lost Harambe in late May 2016. A 4-year-old got into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and officials made the decision to shoot and kill the 17-year-old gorilla to save the child. The tragedy enraged the internet and went viral, spawning a fast petition. What came next was a yearlong celebration of life wherein he became, as we wrote in 2017, a “combination of jokey meme and venerated deity.” Swedish vocalists recorded a “Dicks Out for Harambe” song in the style of the Backstreet Boys. He became a presidential contender. A New Zealand teen dedicated a quiz victory to Harambe in the local newspaper.
During the Daily Dot’s in-person annual meeting in 2016, multiple staffers who were (a) adults and (b) serious journalists dedicated their onstage performances to Harambe. To this day, I smile when I look at the handsome ape’s serious gaze photoshopped alongside, say, Dat Boi.
Sometimes, YouTube benefits from chaotic, DIY folk heroes who film profanity-laden rants across more than 40 YouTube accounts. As “Fedsmoker,” Conald Peterson would disparage the cops and set his hair on fire. He was reportedly a barber, massage therapist, and car wash owner. As comedian Tom Segura put it, he was simply “a renaissance man.”
Peterson passed away under mysterious circumstances in early 2020, his body found near an Arizona highway after suffering a heart attack. But his memory is a life lesson: Don’t stop believin’.
It wasn’t long ago that one could wait 90 minutes in line for a photo with Grumpy Cat. We thought it was a reasonable activity!
With apologies to several deceased and internet-famous cats and dogs, most notably Maple, the dog that loved her owner’s acoustic guitar work, Grumpy Cat’s deranged face is tattooed on our hearts. We lost the 7-year-old cat in 2019 after complications from a urinary tract infection.
As we wrote in her eulogy: “Grumpy Cat, whose original name was Tardar Sauce, became the subject of memes after her photo was shared on Reddit in 2012. Grumpy Cat’s expression was the result of an underbite and dwarfism. It made her (and her owner) famous: Grumpy Cat made appearances at SXSW in Austin, Texas, starred in a Lifetime movie, and was even recreated in a wax statue.”
Three years later, the tears haven’t dried.
A 2005 video shows World of Warcraft players meticulously planning an offensive. Then someone on the team, Leeroy Jenkins, yells “Leeroy Jenkins!” and barges into the battlefield, getting the entire team killed, Jenkins included.
The clip was staged but in the early days of YouTube, became “Lazy Sunday”-level viral because of its absurdist humor, relatable nature (millions of people played WoW worldwide), and that instant-classic catchphrase. A recent YouTube comment on the 2014 re-upload version of the clip said it best: “Leroy is the greatest hero of all time. His battle cry shall be shouted for generations by all his descendants, his legend will live on.”
The legendary TV and film actor passed away on Dec. 31, just weeks away from her 100th birthday. And since her 90th birthday, White was an internet darling. As the Dot noted: “White became a well-loved online presence through previous death hoaxes, viral moments at award shows, and a resurgence of popularity for her television shows as they have been added to streaming services for a new generation to fall in love with.”
Yes, White’s viral moments came from the Obama internet: A more optimistic, wholesome, and naïve era of online: She’d get goofy with Terry Crews at the TV Land Awards or make-out with Bradley Cooper on SNL. You could win a date with Betty White as part of some marketing stunt. She’d say something naughty on Twitter. But for this, she was the internet’s grandmother and regularly proved that finding joy was key to longevity and vitality in life.
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