Meme forecast for 2012

By EUGENIA WILLIAMSON  |  December 30, 2011

Meme: Friday


Rebecca Black topped the list of fastest-rising Google search terms last year, beating out both Casey Anthony (number three) and Steve Jobs (number nine). Like Justin Bieber, the teenage girl with the auto-tuned voice, terrible song, and ludicrous video became a legitimate celebrity because of YouTube. There's just one key difference: irony.  

>> READ: "Top 20 Memes of 2011" by Eugenia Williamson <<

"I don't know if it's tolerance or appreciation," Kim says, pondering Black's success.

Although Black seems like she came out of nowhere, Kim says her popularity has its roots in cam-girl celebrities — teen girls who post confessional videos to YouTube only to suffer the misogynistic wrath of teen boys who spend too much time online. Last year, for instance, 13-year-old Jessi Slaughter ended up on daytime television after being stalked and harassed by Anonymous's /b/ board.

But syndicated talk shows only go so far. "As far as getting news coverage," says Kim, "Rebecca Black is the flagship."

And Black is merely the first barbarian at the gate. "Ironic appreciation will just continue to grow," Kim says. "The teenage superstar thing in general will only get bigger and bigger — autotune is so widespread. There's bound to be at least one more."

Hwang agrees. "I think there's a hundred-percent probability that there'll be another Rebecca Black," he says. "The Internet has a long history of making celebrities of people who do terrible things."

Eugenia Williamson can be reached at

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