The INSIDER Summary:
• A new meme is taking over the internet: “X, but Y when Z.”
• Think: “The entire ‘Bee Movie,’ but every time they say ‘bee’ it gets faster.”
• Its origins seem to be in an offshoot of another, earlier meme.
If you’ve ever wanted to watch “Bee Movie,” but every time a character says “bee,” it gets faster, then you’re in luck. It’s on YouTube now, and it’s a manic journey as the over 12 million people who have watched it can attest.
“The entire ‘Bee Movie,’ but every time they say ‘bee’ it gets faster” is the most popular example of a relatively new meme.
These memes are a little difficult to explain, but essentially they’re video mashups that are made in the format of “X video, but Y happens whenever there’s Z in the original video.” None of the meme experts I’ve talked to have a name for it yet, so I’m going to call them algorithmic memes, because they work according to if-then rules.
The YouTuber who made the extroardinarily popular “Bee Movie” video, Darcy Grivas, has also made a series of videos about the “Bee Movie,” which has become a cult favourite for its absurd plot in some areas of the internet. “The Bee Movie” and its trailer are endlessly deconstructed and reassembled online.
“For some reason, the area of the internet that watches the [‘Bee Movie’] videos wants the most obscure and creative use of a video,” Grivas told INSIDER. “I think the particular video took off because of the time it took for me to do it. The viewers like to know someone’s time was wasted.”
Grivas’s latest example is an extension of meme mashup culture. From a deep dive online, it all seems to have started as an offshoot of mashups of the song “We Are Number One” from the surreal children’s show “Lazy Town.”
“We Are Number One” has its own meme status, and has been mashed up on SoundCloud and YouTube for the past few months. It’s often mixed up with video game themes, other random songs, or just turned into dance jams.
The meme seems to have migrated to YouTube in late October, most prolificly by MrMrMANGOHEAD. By that time, it acquired an algorithmic quality, so you have things like “We Are Number One but when someone takes a step, they turn into a trumpet Mr.Skeltal” and “we are number one but every one is replaced with carl weezer.”
By mid-November, the meme expanded into other meme mashups aside from “We Are Number One.” The “Bee Movie” mashups appear to be the most popular by far. And thanks to a few Twitter power users, like James Nielssen, it also spread to Twitter.
“I saw people do ‘Bee Movie, but…’ and I wanted to contribute as well,” Nielssen told INSIDER in a Twitter message.
One such example: “‘All Star’ by Smashmouth, but every other word is ‘bee’ from ‘Bee Movie’ and the instrumental is ‘Seinfeld.'”
And it’s not just the “Bee Movie.” Here’s a version for “Paul Blart Mall Cop.”
Sometimes, these deconstructions can be an insightful way to analyse a piece of material. “‘Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone’ But Every Time They Say His Name It Gets Faster,” for example, is a great demonstration of how much exposition there is in the first “Harry Potter” film.
Algorithmic memes are able to lend themselves to endless interpretations and iterations, so you’ll probably be seeing a lot more of them soon.
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