Viral Meme Fame…Can it Last?

Here at The Pop Culture Rainman we’re no strangers to the wondrous world of viral meme fame and infamy—we cover it quite a lot.

The snap that started it all…

The latest viral juggernaut is #AlexFromTarget—a baby-faced Target cashier who reached a viral ‘touchdown’ after his photo was posted to Tumblr and spread like wild-fire overnight via giddy tweenagers who thought he was…wait for it…a hottie.

How non illuminating?!

What’s interesting to note—is that Alex had no idea that his photo had even been taken, least of all splattered across the interwebs. Five days later Alex has an astounding 700k+ followers on his Twitter account, five fake accounts with impressive numbers, and he’s already been on the Ellen show!?

And for what I ask? What semblance of marketable talent does this 16-year-old from Texas have beyond being Beiber-esque cute? Can viral meme fame parlay itself into something real, profitable even? This idea gets even more interesting when said memee wasn’t actively courting any kind of attention to begin with?

This is a new frontier of accidental online fame.

I thought this was an insightful post made by @XmyheartMT via Twitter:

It’s clear that for Alex this was a positive outcome. I mean let’s face it…he was bagging diapers and light bulbs—hardly en route to becoming one of tomorrows change agents—and I say that with love.

He certainly wasn’t on Time Magazine’s 2014 most influential teens list, now was he? I say this ironically as I can’t believe how youth obsessed our culture has become that Time Magazine would post such nonsense. I also think their inclusion of nepotistic spawn like Jaden Smith + Kylie & Kendall is vomitous (I-n-f-l-u-e-n-t-I-a-l as they may be). In fact the whole idea of 20 under 20, or even 30 under 30 lists make me want to projectile vomit all over the universe.  

So, yes…Alex got to cut corners in making his way to the top of Twitter, whereas the rest of us have to SLAVE our way just to get to the middle.

But what if this apparent windfall went horribly wrong for Alex. What if it backfired? There are seemingly ZERO policies in place on what is acceptable when posting photos of others online and what could potentially be ILLEGAL?

The deluge of trending Subway snaps for the most part, are just plain hilarious. I don’t think this guy will be making a complaint that his privacy was compromised any time soon, however

But back on point…overnight viral meme ‘fame’ is not to be compared to YouTube/Blogger famedom where there are hundreds of both young and (horrors!) aged adults making incredible profits for their videos and burgeoning brands online. 

Unlike Alex from Target, these people have been curating content online for years and are considered bona fide digital stars who have earned their audiences attention. Another element that they all share is that they were EARLY ADOPTERS of blogging and or YouTube. In the litmus test of online fame— 9/10 times said ‘digerati’ stars were churning out content between the formative years of 2005 and 2007. Yes, there are a handful or pseudo over night success examples, but those are exceptions, certainly not the rule.

Digerati ‘all-stars’ Shane Dawson + Jenna Marbles


At this point, I think Alex from Target should cut his losses and get out of the faux fame game, it truly doesn’t suit him.

His 1st rookie mistake has been, uh…being himself. His tweets post windfall, actually have the ability to put you into a coma. Sure he’s ‘pretty‘ but the kid is no word architect and pens one yawnathon after the other. He really should consider a ghost tweeter.

Once the sheen of his accidental fame starts to wear thin and he realises that the height of his modeling career potential will be JC Penney catalog work, his window of opportunity will start to cave in on itself. He’s sitting on some PRIME number Twitter real estate however—can he actually sell his Twitter space? Is that even done?


Let’s examine a couple of unexpected online meme scenarios where said memee benefitted in a positive way from the exposure. Not surprisingly—it’s not a lengthy list.

First up is Sammy The Success Kid. At just 11 months old, Sammy became a popular internet meme after his mom posted this ‘random day at the beach’ to Flickr in 2007, without ANY inclination it would become an internet sensation.

It’s a fantastic photo and the spacing with some extra landscape to the right, adds to its character.

Original photo of Sammy innocently making Sand Castles

Original photo of Sammy at the beach…ridiculously adorable we concur! Copyright

The initial incarnation of Sammy’s online persona was based on an interpretation of his closed fist and precociously smug stare as Sammy the ‘Bully’ meme. The doctored photo below alluded to Sammy being a beach front bully and enemy to sand castles everywhere. It’s undeniably hilarious.  

Beware of Sammy the Sand Castle Kicking Bully...

Beware of Sammy the Sand Castle Kicking Bully…

Initially his mother Lainey Griner was horrified by how her baby was being portrayed, but thankfully in the most random of occurrences, Sammy morphed into the poster child (literally) of SUCCESS—in meme parlance

One of the many incarnation memes of Sammy the Success Kid!

One of the many incarnation memes of Sammy the Success Kid!

In a reframing of his persona, Sammy appears to be the originator of the sentiment ‘WINNING‘ without actually having to say it. He reminds me of an archetypal University football coach actually!

What followed after Griner finally reined in her rightful copyright ownership were a couple of offers from top name brands like Vitamin Water and Verizon.

Verizon Poster Child of Value + SAVINGS! YEAHHHH!

While I have no idea if the money was substantial enough that it changed their lives dramatically, it certainly must have been a nice feather in their caps and an all around positive experience, mais non? From what we hear Sammy is a regular 7-year-old doing the things that 7-year-olds-do.

Success Kid is all Growns Up!

Success Kid is all Growns Up!

He will occasionally appear in a split photo ‘where are they now update’, but from all accounts—his  online fame has run its course and his family has not tried to prolong any further promotion of their son. They fell in, and they got out before it became ‘weird’.

Who can forget Antoine Dodson?

 Well, obviously we have a rapist in Lincoln Park. He’s climbin’ in yo windows, he’s snatchin’ yo people up, tryin’ to raoe ’em. So ya’ll need to hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husband cause they rapin’ everybody out here.” -Antoine Dodson.

His ghetto flamboyance courtesy of a news segment became a viral sensation, and the saying ‘Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife‘ became part of our collective pop culture lexicon. An auto-tuned music mash-up produced by the Gregory projects sold more than 250,000 copies on iTunes and proceeds eventually helped Dodson and his family move out of the Alabama projects. Dodson has appeared everywhere from George Lopez to the People’s Choice Awards, a cameo in Tyler Perry’s film A Madea Christmas, and even rang in NYE on Carson Daley’s Times Square telecast. Most recently he has a Kickstarter account to help start a reality show and most recently starred in a pay-per-view fight with the original intruder (ya right!?) who trued to rape his sister.

This obvi staged press video that breaks out into a ‘fight’ with Dodson taking a girly swing that a light breeze could exceed, seems like a major downgrade from his former press coverage. It feels rather 50 shades of desperate at this point. Was he able to parlay his online fame into something bigger? Absolutely. It’s almost 4 1/2 years later since the incident and Antoine Dodson still has an online presence and fan base. But is it something substantial? Can his windfall be stretched out any further?

In the wise words of Sweet Brown (who incidentally hasn’t received a penny to date for her video’s prevalent usage…)

Sweet Brown

Stay in school kids,

XOXO                                                                                                                                                                                                The Pop Culture Rainman

Dancing Boy Diva Brendan Jordan is the Meme of the YEAR!


The Many Faces of Brendan Jordan

The Many Faces of Brendan Jordan

What a difference 1 minute can make.

Just last week Brendan Jordan was just a regular—albeit fabulous, 15-year-old teenager from Las Vegas, and now he’s a bona fide internet dancing sensation.

On October 14th, Jordan rose to viral fame after he stole *OWNED* the spotlight from a local newscaster with 60 seconds of choreography to Lady Gaga’s Applause playing in the background.

Some are calling it a video-bomb—but this has SASS-BOMB written all over it.

Feast your eyes on Jordan’s glittery magic below.

Between his you bettah Werk, Werk, Werk posing and giving Face, Face Face—overnight the video went viral—attracting the attention of Lady Gaga who tweeted out these messages.

And this…

With 22k + fans and growing on his Twitter (courtesy, in part of many a Little Monster Gaga minion) Jordan is quickly becoming a strong voice for LGBT youth and the anti-bullying movement. His Twitter bio proudly states yes im a boy. yes im gay.—garnering him the online moniker #BabyGay.

In an interview with, Brendan said the whole ordeal was pretty spontaneous: “I just saw a camera and I did my thing,” he explained. “I was imagining myself as if I were Lady Gaga, and that no one could destroy me“.

In this unremitting climate of snack media—here-today-gone-tomorrow—only time will tell if Jordan can parlay his 15 minutes into something everlasting. I personally think he should get on the merch train ASAP—I would LOVE a Brendan Jordan ripped tank, a dancing bobble-head and a key chain!

Either way we will always have this FACE (which would indicate the swallowing of ones own vomit) and the meme of 2014 to look back on!

The Face of 2014

The meme FACE of 2014

Dance Like EVERYBODY is watching,

XOXO                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The Pop Culture Rainman

The Hipster Flower Beard Trend

2013 was the year of the Hipster Beard—the full-on grisly growth that was prominently displayed on men wherever free-trade coffee + muesli vegan/gluten-free energy bars were sold. Wheras many a hipster-dude shaved off their beards for the sweltering summer months, a new trend for diehards popped up in its place—The Hipster Flower Beard!

Falling in line with the economical hipster-ethos, the flowers should be plucked from nature—the smaller the buds the better—think baby’s breath size! 

Babys Breath Makes a Perfect Flower Beard Accent!

Baby’s Breath Makes a Perfect Flower Beard Accent!

While the itty bitty fleurs look fab in many an Instagram artful portraiture, I was curious to see how this trend handled on a day-in-the-life-test drive courtesy of, but remember results vary!

Be on the lookout for this delightful trend to show up at many an outdoor hipster wedding, the last of the summer music festivals or any variant on a SAVE THE BEES march/protest.

Remember, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your flowers, but you CAN’T pick your friends flower beards!


The Pop Culture Rainman

‘JLaw the Construct’ Meme

It recently occurred to me, in the way that an arbitrary thought bubble will just *plant* itself in my brain seemingly out of nowhere; what if Jennifer Lawrence’s whole persona is…an ‘act’?

Bear with me for a second…imagine if in some sort of Wag The Dog meets The Truman Show sexperiment; execs found the most beautiful, cherub faced actress they could find–and turned her into this goofy, silly, HILARIOUS, down-to-earth, loveable construct?

Something weve rarely seen from a Bombshell young ingénue in Hollyweird.

Imagine for a second, that of all of it, the I Love Lucy buffoonery…

the clumsy pratfalls…

and mishaps…

…were just a well-oiled ruse? A total fabrication?

Imagine if you will (work with me people!) that Jennifer Lawrence the adorable Southern sweetheart, was really an actress from Berlin?

And so without further ado, allow me to introduce my first ever meme, JLaw the Construct—also known as #42.

In creating this new meme, I had to build the character of this so-called construct. A back story if you will.

#42 was plucked by a team of studio execs and primed from the age of three from a Berlin orphanage to play the world’s next superstar. Everything about her has been technically calibrated and calculated.

It could happen.

She has savant-like human characteristics having been raised by a slew of acting coaches, linguistic trainers and gymnastics instructors. She has never been shown real love and her heart is blackened with maniacal hatred and bouts of rage.

This was 'not acting'

This was ‘not acting’

When not working, #42 lives in an incubator in Berlin where she has daily training sessions and exists on a raw foods diet. Certain hand signals from inconspicuous handlers will result in some of Jennifer Lawrence’s most celebrated quirks and guffaws.

Alright that’s all I’ve got. My first ever meme—that may very well be my last. I enjoyed this moment in play land and hope you did too!

Hope JLaw would Approve!


Here’s to imagination!

The Pop Culture Rainman

The Most Embarrassing Meme Seen & Heard ‘Round the World! Starbucks Drake Hands!

Here’s the back story; a guy in L.A. picks up a gal at the local Starbucks, and she reluctantly gives him her phone number. A little later she gets this video sent to her via text.

While his intention was to be alluringly seductive it comes off as cheesy/try-hard and borderline creepy. Gal then sends this laughable video to her male friend who posts it on Instagram, and voila an Internet Meme is Born:


Since then its spawned hundreds of copy cat videos with subjects repeating the soft gaze and face-to-hand ‘money shot’ with Drake’s song “Hold on We’re Going Home” playing ominously in the background.

By the way, you can’t get *better* publicity than this. I’m copping that album ASAP!

In just two days, the meme phenomenon has seen men, women, kids, celebrities, dogs, cats, even bunnies giving their best #StarbucksDrakeHands performances online.

Check out this parody from none other than Larry King

And this veritable ‘mix-tape’ of #StarbucksDrakeHands videos (the cats my fave)…

The guy in question is 30-year-old Singer/Song Writer/Designer/Photographer/Producer/And Possible Barista (Hey it’s LA!) Brody Ryan.

Brody Ryan

Brody Ryan

The Gal is 20-year-old Model/Actress Piper Kennedy, and we can all agree she is quite fetching…

The Object of Affection...Piper Kennedy

The Object of Affection…Piper Kennedy

But MAN did he play this one WRONG!

If he is fact a Starbucks Barista (conflicting reports out there) I can understand how he probably rushed home to take off his geeky uniform, coiffed his hair to look ‘just so’ to show Ms. Kennedy that he is in fact a hunk of burning love. Perhaps he felt he needed to ‘model’ or appear modelesque to attract the young lass, or perhaps he’s done this before —›Like it’s his MO

I feel like other expertly lit ‘come hither’ videos that’s he’s texted to various other children young ladies with soon surface.

The end result has given Brody Ryan some of his much yearned for 15 minutes, and Kennedy has been quoted as wanting to meet Ryan, if only to repent for embarrassing the hell out of this poor dude. Or perhaps she will string him along to further her career because if there’s one thing L.A. needs more of its actress/models.

It’s all very Maury Povich if you ask me.

To Be Continued but until then…



*UPDATE*  November 2013: I was contacted by Brody Ryan’s ‘people’ (read: Brody Ryan) who sent me a Sound Cloud link to his latest single 15 Seconds of Fame—  What can I say, it’s not terrible, and the guy has talent. As so many others, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon when I first got wind of this story, without hearing his side. This video interview says it all and I believe every word he says. There was NEVER a Starbucks meeting. Kennedy made that up because she was too embarrassed to admit that they met online. Watch it here:
I wish Brody luck in all his creative endeavors.
The Pop Culture Rainman