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Internet memes - Turning a Joke into Cash?

SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
edited October 2015 in news & discussions

This is both hilarious and fascinating. 

But my question is - can't she make a lot of money off her accidental celebrity? Use of her photo without her permission, can't she demand payment from any site that publishes her photo? Difficult yes but theoretically is she not entitled to payment? Any editorial use would be protected but what about other uses? From an entrepreneurial standpoint, I wonder how she could, if she could, license this image since it of her. If she did, would there be a way to reap a small fortune from this? I'd never seen it before but sounds like I might be the only one. I'm just curious, if the photo is as popular and enduring as the story says, can the very girl pictured not make a lot of money? If you read the story you'll see she's laughing with everyone else, is taking it all in stride, is not angry and does not seem to be seeking money. But I am wondering anyway.


  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Memes and the mechanism how they spread, fascinate me. 

    Know Your Meme is the best reference if you want to know how a particular meme originated and how it spread. 

    For example, here is one of the funniest and strangest memes:  Techno Viking

    The ERMAHGERD meme is also one of the funniest memes around. 

    The article you linked to, is a fascinating read. I'm somehow surprised she is so pretty because that awkward tween photo is ... not attractive! 

    And this - “ERMAHGERD VERLERCERERPTERS” - is very funny. 

    On a related note, here are a few of the several articles about people who became "famous" through memes, and they will directly and indirectly answer questions about what the person in the meme can do, and the effects, and how they dealt with it. (A Google search will show many more articles on this topic.)

    A few people actually benefited from it - examples would be modeling contracts. And the one guy mentions that becoming a meme makes him happy because “I became famous and more girls are talking to me.”

    So there's always that.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    edited October 2015
    "Overly Attached Girlfriend" - her name is Laina Morris, and she's 22. She's turning her fame into a comedy career, producing and starring in funny YouTube videos. She's generated six-figure income from her viral fame.

    Grumpy Cat has made her owner, 29-year-old Tabatha Bundesen, a multimillionaire.

    "Bad Luck Brian" has made only $20k off his internet fame.

    I guess it all depends on luck, and how you play this card when it is dealt to you.

  • Yes, interesting cultural phenomenon here. But more interesting is the before and after.... how they happened to become superstar memes and what happened to later, if anything. Thanks for the links Neil. 

    Grumpy Cat is just one more example that you don't have to be a rocket scientist to get rich. But you do have to be clever and know what to do with this opportunity that's dropped in your lap.

    I wonder if you can manufacture this.... create a meme that's ostensibly spontaneous or unstaged or just one that's going to catch fire and burn up the 'net. I'm sure tons of people are trying that. But even still, then how do you capitalize on that? I'll have to read about Grumpy Cat. 

    My nephew's friend is an improv actor (so is my nephew) and he went to a groom party in Chicago earlier this year or last (it was a whole weekend of events to fete a soon-to-be-groom) and, as it happened, every other person going, including the groom, was booked on a plane that was grounded for some reason, maybe weather, not sure. Anyway, he ended up being the only attendee who made it there. So, instead of sulking over the canceled party he held the party alone in that he went to all the places they were going to go and filmed himself enjoying them, like a restaurant and tourist attractions ... and then made a You Tube video. I think it was called Chicago For One. I guess it was really funny. It was just for fun but it went viral and he starting getting all these entertainment offers, appearances, I think even a role in something. It totally jump started his career. 

    I think this Goosebumps girl is missing an opportunity. Someone needs to grab her and manage her image and take a percentage and make them both rich. 

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    It's been news every so often that when a company or individual tries to create something to go viral, they've failed. They fail because they get shredded so easily on Reddit and other sites where there are entire populations of people who thrive on cutting down anything that is fake or manufactured. 

    As a slightly unrelated example: 

  • These surprise soldier reunions were already so tired and overdone and predictable and now this, one that is orchestrated to the point of exploitation. He wasn't even serving in a war zone. Nauseating. The ones I really cringe at are when the returning dads and moms surprise their kids at school. It's not just that it's gotten cliche it's that I think the kids' privacy is being ignored. Why surprise your child at school? Why? How does this help the child? It doesn't. It puts their raw emotions on Facebook and YouTube so the adults can have a little fun and maybe 15 minutes of fame. "Look what a great dad I am!!! Look how much my daughter adores me!!!" And for many children I'm sure it's awkward. 

    Yea, a viral meme probably has to be happenstance and unplanned. Can't hurt though to nurture it along if you see a seed germinating. 
  • This is fascinating too but I'm getting a little farther afield of the original topic in this thread. Still, same idea just going in the other direction, the potential for disaster and even destroyed lives when things go viral and we forget real people are involved.

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