FAREWELL, 2022. Your memes are now consigned to the great digital dustbin in the cloud. Goodbye, the Liz Truss lettuce. Laters, the cat who invaded Vinicius Jr’s World Cup press conference and then got yeeted off the table. Sayonara, anything about The Queue.
It’s 2023, and the market has changed completely. Memes futures trading is very, very hot and there are a few areas where far-sighted investors will likely find healthy returns this year.
Anyone with stock tied up in King Charles’ coronation in May saw why it was one of the safest investments anyone’s likely to make this year. Enforced solemnity plus hundreds of world leaders to the power of an old man going through an incredibly mysterious and arcane ritual? That’s meme paydirt.
And in another reflection of 2022 coming up this year, the Women’s World Cup kicks off in July. Major tournaments always come with a side-order of good memes.
After a year of manic political chicanery in the UK there’s little chance of things being quite so mad again, but if Rishi Sunak’s poll numbers stay underwater as the year wears on there’s a genuine threat that the Tory party’s king-across-the-water Boris Johnson could ditch that plough in his Uxbridge constituency he went back to in July and have another go as Prime Minister.
A few old favourites will continue to pay dividends. Elon Musk will continue to be the man who spent the most money of any human being who ever lived just to find out that a lot of people think he’s a wanker. We’ll see how that one plays out.
But while we wait for the first few waves of mad nonsense of the year to break, let’s also enjoy the best of 2022’s funny stuff one more time. It’s just like being at a Peter Kay gig, but you can actually see this before the end of 2025. D’you remember Wordle? Eh? Wordle?? What were all tharrabout??
Barbie v Oppenheimer
It’s been a long time since we had a proper, no-holds-barred, honest-to-goodness summer blockbuster showdown in the cinemas, but this July is one for the ages. First, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One boots all other actioners into the stratosphere. Then, a week and a half later, Christopher Nolan’s extremely serious, extremely star-filled biopic of the philosopher-king of the atomic bomb, J Robert Oppenheimer, comes out on the same day as Greta Gerwig’s extremely not-serious, extremely star-filled kinda-biopic of the philosopher-queen of Barbieland, Barbie. The imagined rivalry between the two camps has been ripe memeing territory.
Naturally, people are trying to work out how best to work the potential double-bill come the weekend.
Our suggestion: meet the gang for 11am, bottomless brunch, Barbie, late lunch, Oppenheimer, sit down with an old fashioned, stare into the void, bed.
The coronation of King Charles
So, Yung Chaz finally got his sausage fingers on the crown after 70-odd years of apprenticeship. It absolutely pissed it down, as is tradition for coronations in the UK, and all the other pageantry was deployed with the usual solemnity. But if Elizabeth II had the first televised coronation, Charles III had the first memed coronation. Two big moments stood out.
First, there was Charles looking slightly mystified at what he was being told to say by the guy holding his lines. (You’d have thought he’d be off-book by previews, but anyway.)
Then there was Penny Mordaunt in her very snazzy outfit and wielding a sword as Lord President of the Council. We dodged a bullet here: if the Queen had carked it a year earlier, Jacob Rees-Mogg would have been on sword duties.
The mix of celebs and posh nobs was quite a thing to see. Ant and Dec were there, plus Lionel Richie, Dame Emma Thompson and a very confused Katy Perry.
And they let some where-are-they-now types in to beef up the numbers too.
So a fine time was had by all. And, in the end, quite a lot of peaceful protestors were arrested and kept in cells for 16 hours despite having run their plans past police beforehand, and some bystanders who had nothing to do with anything got carted away too. Yet another good day’s work for the Met! They really are on a roll at the minute, aren’t they?
The big red boots
It’s been a little while since a look cut through the culture quite so quickly as MSCHF’s Astro Boy-inspired big red boots. The brand does like to use New York Fashion Week to make a statement with footwear – in the past they’ve done Birkenstocks made of recycled Hermés bags and a pair of boots which look like those giant plastic casts footballers wear when their metatarsal’s gone – but none had the impact of the big red boots.
But why? Well, the proportions are perfect. Big enough to look completely absurd but just about small enough to actually walk around in, they’re yours for just $350.
A press release offered some more intel. “Cartoonishness is an abstraction that frees us from the constraints of reality,” it said. “If you kick someone in these boots, they go boing!”
They were a massive pain in the arse to actually get off your feet once they were in, but it’s a small price to pay to be king for the eight days or so that everyone was obsessed with them.
Angela Bassett did the thing
Now, we all love the Baftas. They’re a great and glorious thing. They can, however, be a little bit dry at times. This year was something of an exception.
Arianna DeBose of Hamilton, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and Westworld, followed Richard E Grant’s opening monologue with a medley of Eurythmics’ ‘Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves’ and Sister Sledge’s ‘We Are Family’ which climaxed with a self-composed rap which recalled that bit in ‘Vogue’ where Madonna gives thanks for Grace Kelly and Jean Harlow and that: “Angela Bassett did the thing, Viola Davis my Woman King / Blanchett, Cate, you’re a genius, and Jamie Lee, you are all of us!”
The whole thing was baffling, but it was that first line – “Angela Bassett did the thing” – and the shoulder-shimmy that accompanied it, which really went big. The whole thing got a bit of a kicking.
“I think it’s incredibly unfair, to be frank,” Bafta producer Nick Bullen told Variety of the backlash to DeBose’s performance. “I absolutely loved it. Everybody I’ve spoken to who was in the room absolutely loved it.”
“She only had a few weeks to put this whole thing together. She worked with a great musical director and choreographer. So it was a real team effort. She had an amazing team around her, and she and her team put the whole piece together.”
But then the bafflement turned into full-blooded veneration of a moment of high camp which generally gets purged from big pop cultural ceremonies in the UK. Lizzo and Adele shouted it out onstage. It even started getting played in clubs.
And it all came full circle at the NAACP Image Awards, where Bassett did indeed do the thing by winning entertainer of the year.
Man City v the Premier League
In perhaps the biggest news to hit English football since the vanishing spray finally did for encroaching at free kicks, the Premier League has alleged that Manchester City broke its competition rules on 101 occasions in the 13 seasons from 2009/10.
The four-year investigation has suggested that City failed to, among other things, give “a true and fair view of the club’s financial position” and didn’t “include full details” of how it remunerated staff. The club denies any wrongdoing.
But deny as it may, it can’t stop fans from other clubs rubbing their thighs with glee at the idea of the champions being busted down a division, and being made to hand back any pots won during the disputed period, and possibly also forced to have their Etihad sponsorship taken off their shirts and replaced by a sign reading “I AM A BIG STUPID BABY”.
Harry’s big book bonanza
The first big to-do of 2023 was the release of Spare, the autobiography of the royal FKA Prince Harry. There were lots of bits which caught the eye, but if you wanted the full experience you really needed to invest in the audiobook version.
Quite a lot of knob chat in there. The word ‘todger’ is simultaneously the only word you’d expect a man of Harry’s station to use for his penis, and also the worst one he could possible have chosen. Todger. Me todger. This ol’ todger o’ mine. Young todge.
Anyway. Lots of fun was had with the bits in between the bits where he was excoriating the Royal Family for all sorts of alleged misdeeds, bad vibes and straight-up horribleness. Spare is not the kind of book you can just walk straight back into the family Christmas do from. It is a hand grenade lobbed into a kennels full of corgis. But then, we’ve all felt like doing something similar at one job or another.