“You must be really looking forward to going offline for a while,” the Mindshower Digital Detox bot tells a cyber-rendered Matty Healy at the start of The 1975‘s very internet-indebted video for their new track ‘The Birthday Party’. It’s ironic, then, that when Matty hands over his phone and is led into his dream-like digital detox, he’s surrounded by a plethora of familiar online faces.
In case you missed any of the Internet-y Easter eggs, here’s what we managed to spot…
Pepe The Frog
The only Internet meme ever to be co-opted by a US President? Probably. Originally a character in a 2005 comic called Boy’s Club #1 by cartoonist Matt Furie, the shifty looking frog became an alt-right meme during the 2016 US presidential election, with Trump himself actually tweeting some Pepe-as-Donald fan art. Its creator later killed Pepe off in response to Pepe becoming a “hate symbol”. In The 1975 clip, Pepe is seen doing yoga.
The next very recognisable meme we see is Trollface, a character first drawn in 2008 on MS Paint and featured in a comic uploaded to DeviantArt. Unlike most Internet memes, its original meaning was exactly that which it became famous: it’s simply a crudely-etched face of a smug troll. Its grinning face can be seen in the video under a wig and sitting upon a giant mushroom.
In the ‘Birthday Party’ vid, Matty is seen posting flyers that say he’s “Looking For Goth Gf”, with the text lower down stating that the person in question must be “goth”, “a girl” and “ready to be emotionally and physically disappointed”. The poster references a meme that dates back to a mock conversation between “me and my goth gf,” in which the guys says “bb ur hands r so cold” and his girlfriend replies “that me soul”. It’s also a meme that’s been used in reference to a certain celebrity couple.
Yes, sadly the meme really is called that. The character was first used in the murky messageboards of 4Chan as a signal that illegal content had been posted, but has since been popularised more generally as a response to someone being creepy. In 2010, the meme caused a bit of a panic after US police issued a warning about its usage, claiming that “individuals dressed in the bear costume… have been seen in Southern California”. In the 1975 video, Pedobear is seen behind a tree as Matty posts his Goth GF flyers.
Another rather unfortunately named meme. Also called Gordo Granudo, for some unknown reason. The macro meme has become popular as a way of mocking “basement dwellers”, a derogatory term for someone who spends a lot of time online and still lives at home. In the video, the meme is a flag blowing in the wind as Matty does a little dance.
You’ve all seen this one. Even your gran’s probably seen it. The meme came from an iStock image that featured a man gawking at another woman as his girlfriend stares in angered shock. The meme went viral again last year as one Twitter user spliced together some other images from the shoot to create a story arc whereby the girlfriend actually leaves Distracted Boyfriend for the other woman.
There’s plenty of references in this scene: deranged Shrek, the Ermahgerd girl and, of course, Momo – the nightmarish meme/hoax that caused a media storm a couple of years ago following stories that a Whatsapp account using the sinister avatar was causing people to take their own lives. In the 1975 clip, Momo is wearing the same Mindshower uniform as Matty.
And finally: one of the more lesser-known references. Moon Man’s another meme utilised by the alt-right. Originally a mascot for McDonald’s in the 1980s, Moon Man has been labelled as a hate symbol by international Jewish non-governmental organisation the Anti-Defamation League. The meme sees the character’s image “coupled with violent or racist rap songs using computer-generated voices”. Here, Moon Man hangs in the sky as Matty dances on what looks like a sea of Tide pods. Sure!