In many ways, 2017 was an objectively garbage year — but at least we got some good memes out of it.
It’s impossible to accurately describe the quality of something like a meme, but as an Extremely Online Person, I’d say this year produced some of the most creative memes in recent memory: the expanding brain memes in particular provided some light in this generally bleak time.
But why take my stupid opinion? We asked Reddit Moderators on the /r/MemeEconomy subreddit — who are essentially meme professionals — to tell us about the best and worst memes of 2017. Here’s what they had to say:
The Best of the Best
Though it was one of the most ubiquitous memes in 2017, few people know its origin. According to Know Your Meme, this one comes from a still taken of actor Kayode Ewumi, as he was playing the character Reece Simpson — or “Roll Safe — in the British web series Hood Documentary.
This meme celebrates rebranding bad decisions as good ones.
“Roll Safe deserves a top spot because even in December you’ll find the occasional one being used and updated,” /r/MemeEconomy moderator Brandon Wink tells Inverse.
Star Wars Battlefront II was arguably the most infamous game of 2017, as its creator, EA, squeezed players out of additional money with in-game microtransactions. For context, it cost about $60 just to buy the game, and if players didn’t spend additional money within it, they’d have to wait inordinately long to do pretty much anything, like unlocking Darth Vader.
“EA Memes helped raise awareness of scummy business practices, a condescending corporate culture, and that Star Wars Battlefront II is not worth buying,” /r/MemeEconomy moderator Alberto Barbosa tells Inverse.
This one needs no introduction.
“Distracted Boyfriend gets [a] top spot for continuing the tradition of shutterstock images being meme gold mines, and this one still has some life in it today,” Wink tells Inverse.
This absurd meme is an ode to our absolute dumbest shower thoughts. It also still has a lot of life in it, and could carry well into 2018.
“Brain Level memes have a high skill ceiling, which means that the medium can be taken very far if the creator has enough creativity,” Wink explains.
The Overrated and Overused
While they were certainly everywhere this year, Barbosa says Trump memes can pose a problem on /r/MemeEconomy.
“Trump is so divisive and polarizing that many times we need to lock posts because the comments devolve so swiftly into incivility,” he explains. “We will not ban posts regarding Trump though, because there is substantive discussion that can be had still about Trump in the context of the meme economy when participants manage to talk politely.”
That said, Wink has a totally different take on Trump memes.
“Trump memes are great because it’s either ‘look how dumb he is’ or ‘look how great he is’ and between the two everyone is happy,” he says.
Cash Me Ousside
Wink says he actually has a pretty personal connection to the meme — and it’s not good.
“I actually live in the area where Danielle [Bregoli Peskowitz] is from, and she was caught outside at a Kava bar shortly after her appearance,” he explains. “Where this story gets worse is that she now has a record deal, TV show in the works, and is the over-glorification of the absolute worst the internet has to offer. It’s not that I can’t stand or don’t like her, because I met her before the fame when I worked at a shoe store and she’s a genuine person. What I can’t stand is what she represents. The epitome of ‘me first fight everyone’ culture that because of her celebrity status and money is only going to get worse when younger kids pick her as their role model. You can’t blame her, only ourselves.”