Rickrollers seemingly giving Rick Astley up
The infamous 'Rickroll' is one of the earliest, most common (and most fun) meme tropes, an Internet prank that involves a disguised hyperlink leading to Rick Astley's 1987 music video for "Never Gonna Give You Up."
The original Rickroll is attributed to a 4chan user who used a fake link to a Grand Theft Auto trailer to Rickroll users on a video game thread in early 2007, making Rick Astley popular for the first time in over a decade and likely adding a few cents to Astley's bank account in the form of royalty checks. But has the meme sun set for the Rickroll? Recently, a rash of videos parodying Smash Mouth's 1999 hit "All Star" has broken out, and meme scientists are predicting that it could oust the Rickroll as the go-to bait-and-switch web joke. Popdust's meme-dream-team weighs in on whether or not "All Star" stands a chance at replacing "Never Gonna Give You Up" as the new Rickroll.
Popdust Chief Meme Officer Ben Tomaiuolo's take:
For my money, "All Star" could definitely replace "Never Gonna Give You Up," as the best bait-and-switch prank video on the Internet. Merely looking at the timelines, Rick Astley's 1987 track became a full-fledged meme about 20 years after it was released [in 2007]. 2019 would mark the 20th anniversary of the release of "All Star." The members of Smash Mouth are currently more newsworthy today than they ever were in their late nineties/early aughts heyday, and parody videos of "All Star" are just starting to break the ice in terms of Internet trends, with the help of meme all stars like my good Twitter friend, James Nielssen. Couple that with the fact that bait-and-switch style videos featuring "All Star" are already surfacing, and I suspect that Internet users will see a rise in "All Star" Rickrolling videos. But what will they be called?
Never one to balk at an opportunity to coin a meme phrase, Tomaiuolo debated between "Mouthrolling" and "Smashrolling" for several minutes before settling on Smashrolling as the name of the newest Rickroll repeal-replacement trend.
Tomaiuolo also cited a video of Donald Trump performing "All Star," which he compared to the famous trend of "Barackrolling," (the video of former POTUS Barack Obama performing "Never Gonna Give You Up") saying "Nobody has made a video of Trump performing 'Never Gonna Give You Up' yet, which is good because it seems like he's definitely going to give us all up."
Popdust Director of Multimedia Alex Chang's opinion:
Though Smash Mouth has the proper aesthetic for a meme in our post-modern era, I doubt that it will have the longevity that we saw through Rickroll. The drums in the beginning of that song have become perhaps more iconic than the Rick Astley himself. I don't see All Star with a similar immediacy toward frustration. We'll have to see though, I am a fan of All Star, personally...
Chang's opinion definitely has some merit to it as well; one of the big draws towards the Rickroll is the frustration it causes receivers ("You wouldn't get this from any other guy").
Popdust Techxpert Chris Nguyen weighed in as well:
It's just hard to displace the original. The Rickroll is the undisputed king, the one that started it all. It's basically the invention of fire for Internet trolling. Even if you get [Smashrolled], you'll always think of the Rickroll.
Popdust's expert meme-team scoured the web for other evidence of this trend's rise. According to Google Trends, search users started looking for "All Star" more often than "Rickroll" in late 2016. A twitter user named @SnowKnuckles also seems to agree, even if his timeline is a little off:
Just remember, when your friends start Smashrolling you, that Popdust knew it would be a trend before anyone else.
Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.