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Meme Culture: A Brief Journey into the Surrealism

by Zühtü Anıl TUTAR

Surreal memes might seem like a pile of nonsense in the eyes of many people. However, in today's world of memes consisting of templates, surreal memes are the way of breaking the boundaries. This article will discuss how surreal memes came to be and why they are essential for meme culture.


Memes with surreal or ironic nature existed before the rise of surreal memes. The actual start of this kind of meme is unknown. It is believed that their roots were in sites like 4chan in early 2010. However, many of the models included in these kinds of memes are created even earlier. The 3D model, known as “Meme Man,” was created in 2014, followed by the “Orang” model in 2006. The earliest component of surreal memes is the “Pillars,” which were Nigerian sculptures from the 14th century. 


These kinds of memes are purposefully made to look low-effort since they are meant to be sarcastic. This is because surreal meme creators think mainstream memes became so stupid that they are not enjoyable anymore. They believe that the only way to enjoy memes is by infusing them with an ironic detachment. Therefore, they use sarcastic texts and meaningless objects to create their memes. 


The first surreal meme, “SUCC,” was created by a meme creator named Special meme fresh. This meme featured Meme Man discussing with “Steank Waiter” how many layers of irony he is on. This meme contains poorly made speech bubbles and distorted images as a symbol of sarcasm. And one of the following memes, “CRUMBS,” featuring Meme Man with red eyes warning the reader not to disturb the pigeons as they consume the crumbs. It is unknown what happens if someone scares the pigeons, but this meme implies that it is not a positive outcome.


The current stage of surreal memes is constantly changing and evolving. In recent years, surreal memes have transformed from predictable characters and themes into more artistic, peculiar, and unique memes. Since they are constantly evolving and changing, the future of surreal memes is unclear. However, surreal memes are probably here to stay. Although their popularity is not as high as their prime time, the surreal meme community is growing steadily. And finally, they remember not to disturb the pigeons.

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