Screengrab via Arakawa Under the Bridge/Shaft, Inc.

It’s a meme that twisted culture into something sick and disturbing.

In the 21st century, the pretentious designation “a man of culture” is rarely used without irony. Who would give himself such a lofty title? But that’s what makes the latest popular meme, “I see you’re a man of culture” so damn funny.

The meme uses a screengrab of Last Samurai, the samurai barber from the 2010 anime Arakawa Under the Bridge. He meets someone who favors the traditional topknot hairstyle and says “Ah, I see you’re a man of culture as well.”

i see you're a man of culture Screengrab via Arakawa Under the Bridge/Shaft, Inc.

That sincerity is completely missing from the meme, though, especially the variations that have dominated Reddit‘s r/dankmemes this week. At its best, the dank memes subreddit is a fertile incubator of original content. At its worst, it devolves into a watered-down version of 4chan culture, going so deep on “ironic” jokes about Nazism, pedophilia, school shootings, and suicidal thoughts that it threatens to come out the other side and straightforwardly glorify these things.

So, what does a “man of culture?” on r/dankmemes claim to be into? The joke is that it’s some of the worst stuff you can think of. School massacre jokes have been big there lately, and this meme is no exception:

"when you go to shoot up the school but you already see your Muslim classmate planting bombs" imjustanoob0/Reddit

when you go to pull out your m9 and the quiet kid pulls out his glock at the same time strategicant5/Reddit

And here’s the inevitable pedophilia version:

pedophilia version of the man of culture meme liam_piddy/Reddit

And the sexual proclivities only get more specific from there. This popular post from a redditor who goes by “Shrek’s anus 69″—sure, why not?—gets into the very narrow world of transsexual anime porn based on children’s entertainment franchises.

roblox porn version of man of culture meme shreksanus69/Reddit

Not every Man of Culture meme needs to be edgy, though. There’s the very straightforward anti-meme version:

when your friend is a man of culture as well Know Your Meme

And the nerdy version about mechanical keyboards:

man of culture meme about mechanical keyboard chrisevans19/reddit

But the best Man of Culture memes are the ones that delete words from the caption, totally changing the joke—of course, some of them are on the edgy side too:

ah, i see you're a man as well imjustanoob0/Reddit

ah i see you're a culture dankmemesus/Reddit

i see you're a well atr2718/Reddit

ah, i see well flattenedrabbit/Reddit

when you drink a refreshing lemonade spagglesnorts/Reddit

There’s only so much mileage you can get out of that angle—”ah” is about the most minimal version possible—but the meme itself is virtually infinite. Practically everything in the world can either be considered good taste or bad taste, and both of them work here.

On the other hand, it could just be co-opted by the alt-right, the white nationalist movement that has a lot of overlap with 4chan, and never reach its full potential.

Ah well, they can’t all be winners.

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