Hundreds of memes, give or take, surface every year. A few dozen of them loom so large that they must, necessarily, be ritually slaughtered. They can’t reasonably exist for too long; it’s not in their nature, or that of the online mechanisms which give them life.
So, really, it was only a matter of time before the commonly circulated image of Kermit the Frog from common puppet-franchise The Muppets drinking a mug of tea — with typical block meme text overlaid, always ending with the phrase “But that’s none of my business” — would expire. In fact, since the image first started cropping up in 2014, most probably assumed it already had.
What’s remarkable about ABC’s Good Morning America Twitter account falsely dubbing the meme as #TeaLizard is not the fact that it killed the meme. In fact, it may have actually given it a second life — another unforeseen moment to shine. It’s that the meme killed Good Morning America, and perhaps ABC along with it.
Here’s the 4:51 a.m. tweet heard around your timeline, in which perhaps the most famous frog of all time is greeted like a stranger by its creators:
Examine Exhibit A, keeping in mind that ABC is the network that aired the iconic late-1970s television show which made Kermit the Frog and his Jim Henson-created compatriots famous. Not only that — it also produced and aired its modernized, vaguely jaded follow-up series The Muppets, which only just went off the air in March.
Let’s retrace the tragic history, and make our peace with it: ABC made The Muppets popular, milked them for all their worth (with an often-embarrassing TV reboot, which quietly faded into a firm cancellation).
The internet, meanwhile, was quietly stealing the Muppets’ hottest commodity back, giving him new, sardonic life that resonated more widely than ABC’s milquetoast rebranding. “But that’s none of my business” is not what Henson envisioned for Kermit, no doubt, but at least this meant something to people.
Then, inadvertently, like a tiny Pekinese they didn’t spot before backing out of the driveway, ABC (or whoever was manning the Tweetdeck that morning) moved to crush the most important thing any Muppet had managed to accomplish in some years. It was the brutal side effect of an increasingly prehistoric institution’s (a morning show’s) attempt to adapt to Internet culture.
But Kermit had the last laugh; ABC was one step behind him. Reduced to a mass of ubiquitous, almost-meaningless green pixels, and pitted against snarky cultural observations, television’s First Frog was transfigured completely in the network’s eyes. Like the Men in Black had come from them, the dialectic power of the image wiped ABC’s memory clear of one of their most beloved products.
All this, when this had happened in February:
And with this one blunder, the millennial generation claimed The Muppets for themselves, once and for all. Like the Unsullied, they murdered the Masters — their Trojan Horse was non-sequitur humor they knew their misguided enemies couldn’t compute.
The rise of a different haughty frog not long ago seemed to prove that memes didnt need any context to set a forest fire on 4chan. ABCs death at the hands of their own progeny proves that the extra-textual shackles to which viral phenomena were once tied can always, always be shaken off.
RIP Good Morning America. RIP The Muppets, possibly, if the millennials decide to cut off their life support.