The Origin Of Your 30 Favorite Celebrity Memes

Memes. We can't live with them, and we certainly can't live without them. Memes are a truly unique product of our times, and have become a form of communication unto themselves. Memes have become a vital part of our culture, uniquely connecting all know what they mean, and that makes them important to how we interact with each other.

Biologist (and noted Islamophobe) Richard Dawkins coined the term "meme" in 1975 book called The Selfish Gene. The Information Age has pioneered memes into jokes that transcend class, culture, and race — though many of the funniest memes (especially these days) originate from communities of color on social media. Vintage memes, like the dancing baby and All Your Base even connect generations.

We've rounded up some of our favorite memes featuring celebrities. What makes celeb memes different from other grassroot memes is they reflect how we look at fame today. Fame was always aspirational, but today, fame is also viewed as an extension of humanity in a way that it wasn't in the past. Through social media, celebs are more accessible than before, and we get to see more candid sides of them. Sometimes that surface cracks, and the result is a meme that ends up on all of our Twitter feeds.

When future anthropologists and historians study this moment in time, we wonder if they will be baffled by the existence of memes."Why is everyone talking about a crying basketball player?" they'll ask. "What is a large adult son? And who the hell are these Kardashians?" Click through for the best celebrity memes — we'll update as more crop on on the weird, wide internet.

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Petty Skai Jackson

This meme has the distinction of being one of the few that originated from the celebrity themselves. Skai Jackson, a star in the Disney world, tweeted photos of herself waiting for an on-air television interview in 2016. The images quickly went viral, with users joking that her facial expression was smug and petty.

She later told Shine Media that "It was like, really early [in New York], like 6 a.m., which is really 3 a.m. L.A. time. So I was just like sitting down, preparing, falling asleep a little bit ... I wasn't really, like, in tune. I didn't really know what was going on, and then that's when like the meme started happening."

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Kim and Khloé Kardashian: "Don't be fucking rude"

This is just one of the many, many Keeping Up With the Kardashian memes. This one comes from season 2, episode 15. In the episode, Kim and Khloé are get into a fight while eating Chipotle. Kim leaves the room and is mocked for crying. Kim can still hear them teasing her, so she charges back into the room and hits Khloé with her bag, and utters the now-iconic "don't be fucking rude."

This meme has a special place in our hearts, as it inspired us to watch KUWTK for the first time.
Crying Michael Jordan

Crying celebrities are captivating, because their images are so controlled. To see them weep usually represents a crack in their media-trained facade. It makes them more human. It's also perfect meme material, and there's several such memes in the crying canon.

Crying Michael Jordan came from his emotional induction speech into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005. The meme didn't really blow up until 2015. And in 2016, Jordan finally commented on the meme, telling the Chicago Tribune through a spokesperson that "I don't recall when we first started noticing it — everything explodes so quickly on the Internet, and suddenly it was everywhere. Everyone seems to be having fun with the meme, and it just keeps going. We haven’t seen anyone using it to promote their commercial interests, which is something that we’re monitoring."

This meme has been used to express disappointment and regret, as well as circumstances that are unfavorable — there were lots of Crying Jordans during the election. It's particularly popular among the sports and menswear communities.
Crying Selena Gomez

Another entry in the canon of crying celebrities, this image of Selena Gomez is used to express disappointment during a happy moment — for example, not getting the gift you wanted for a birthday, or coming in 2nd place in a contest.

The meme is a screenshot from a video of Gomez during a 2013 interview with the Hot Hits radio show. In the video, she is watching a super fan's video submission, and becomes emotional. And quickly, a meme was born. Gomez has never commented on the meme, but even after a few years, this one isn't going away.

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Whitney Houston: "I want to see the receipts"

Not only did this meme become a joking reaction, it spawned the term "receipts." Receipts is now a common slang term for proof of a story or an allegation. If you collect receipts, you know that receipts often take the form of smartphone screenshots. Is an ex-friend trying to contradict your version of the story? Take a screenshot of those text messages to show the real story.

The meme comes from an interview that Houston did with Diane Sawyer in 2002. Sawyer asked the "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" singer about her substance abuse, totaling in the hundreds of thousands spent on drugs. Houston stubbornly responds "come on! $730,000? I way, no way. I want to see the receipts. From the drug dealer that I bought $730,000 worth of drugs from. I want to see the receipts."

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Rihanna holding a glass of wine

This image is one of many in the canon of Rihanna holding a glass of wine in public. The singer is frequently photographed taking her wine to-go, and we love it. A much better accessory than a handbag with a fuzzy tail keychain.

The meme is used to express blasé, uninterested vibes, especially in the face of petty drama. In 2016, the Cut published an extensive round-up of images of Rihanna holding a wine glass, which retains a special place in our web browser's bookmarks.

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Natasha Galinka on America's Next Top Model: "Some people have war in their countries"

Another personal favorite meme of ours, this one comes from model Russian Natasha Galinka from cycle 8 of America's Next Top Model. In the clip, contestant Brittany Hatch has a meltdown after arriving late to a challenge. She is disqualified because of her tardiness, and blames it on her cab driver. Hatch screams and cries so loudly that it can be heard inside the building. Galkina, who was also disqualified, attempts to put Hatch's despair into perspective. "You know, some people have war in their countries," she says with the utmost seriousness, and thus a meme was born. If you never need to remind someone of how good they have it, just deploy this one.
Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP.
Ryan Gosling at Oscars 2017

More secondhand embarrassment. An Associated Press photographer caught Gosling in the most perfect of smirks when he was onstage not receiving the Best Picture award for La La Land. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were famously handed the wrong envelope; the real Best Picture winner was Moonlight. Talk about awkward.
Tyra Banks on America's Next Top Model: "We were all rooting for you"

Another Top Model meme, this one from cycle 4. Contestant Tiffany Richardson was being cut, and host Tyra Banks felt that Richardson wasn't being "emotional" enough, and wasn't taking the competition seriously. Richardson attempted to explain that she was "hurt," but was "sick of crying about stuff I cannot change." This pushed Bank's buttons, and she launched into a truly memorable screaming moment. "We were all rooting for you!" shouts Banks, into a tirade made for memes.

This meme is still a favorite, and is still used when someone lets you down. Buzzfeed spoke to Richardson earlier this year about the meme, and the heartbreaking story behind it.

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Crying Lebron James

Yet another crying celebrity, this image expresses unparalleled joy. Lebron James, playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, is overcome with feels while hugging fellow teammate Kevin Love. He was reacting to winning the NBA Finals – becoming champions of the league — a first for the Cavaliers in over 50 years. Think of it as the opposite of the Crying Michael Jordan meme.

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Michelle Obama at the 2017 Presidential Inauguration

Michelle Obama was all of our collective feelings at the 2017 Inauguration. As President-elect Trump arrives with his wife Melanie Trump, President Obama and FLOTUS Michelle Obama receives them for photographs and to escort them to the Capitol balcony.

Melania Trump came bearing a gift from Tiffany in its signature robin's egg blue box. She hands the box to Michelle Obama, who throws a furtive glance at the camera, clearly unhappy to carry a box around during the formal event. Obama quickly looks for a handler to take the box so they can proceed with the photographs.

Of course, this moment became a screenshot, and the screenshot became a meme, and we love it forever. Hard to believe it isn't even a year old.

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Shia LaBeouf: "Do it!"

A vintage meme at this point, this video of Shia LaBeouf doing some Serious Acting became a photoshop darling in the meme world; its remixability was especially easy since it was filmed in front of a green screen. The internet was amused by LaBeouf's odd hand movements, drooling, screaming, and body stance.

But the video is actually meant to be a work of performance art. LaBeouf is known to collaborate with artists Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner. The script for the video was written by a college student at Central Saint Martens, and the "Do it!" segment is actually one of several vignettes in the full video.

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Iggy Azalea freestyle rapping

Oof, this meme is just straight-up awkward. In 2015, Iggy Azalea attempted to freestyle rap at a live concert, but the result was, well, underwhelming. It became fodder for jokes, with it being referred to as "gibberish" and and "epic fail." Clover Hope at Jezebel posits that this video in particular heralded the downfall of the rapper, writing that "no one is exempt from clowning."
Arthur's fist

Okay, technically not a celebrity, but we're including this one as the urging of our editor, who adores this meme. Truly, it's one of the better ones in recent memory, and is used to express quite rage. Cartoon character Arthur the Aardvark balls up his fist in a 1999 episode of the show, and a meme was born later in 2016.
Jamie Lee Curtis drinking

Have you ever wanted someone to, well, stop talking immediately? Use this meme to explain your wishes, and they will get the hint pretty quickly. This candid image series shows actress Jamie Lee Curtis shushing a friend while dining in Venice Beach back in 2010. She then angrily drinks from a glass after the awkward moment. The full story of the disagreement is somewhat unclear, but we almost don't need to know — the images tell a pretty complete tale in of themselves.

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Photo: Joe Kohen/Getty.
Large adult sons

Another favorite of ours. It's less of a meme and more of an internet joke, one that is more salient these days due to the very public large adult sons known as Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. But the original large adult sons come from another presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee's.

Large adult sons come from the world of Weird Twitter, which was a group of comedians who used the site as a performance art project, tweeting absurdist nonsense and inside jokes. This was one such inside joke. Large adult sons are defined by, as Jia Tolentino masterfully writes in the New Yorker (one of the year's best pop culture essays), their "oafish flailing" and man-child syndrome. They glue themselves to curtains in their bumbling idiocy, but are always rescued by their famous dad.
Desus Nice: "Gotta hear both sides"

Comedian Desus Nice started his funny schtick with partner The Kid Mero on Twitter, but they soon blew up into a podcast called "Bodega Boys" and a light-night show on Viceland. "Bodega Boys" is notable for spawning their own catchphrases, and "gotta hear both sides" has become the most famous one. This meme is used when a story is so outlandish or ridiculous that it doesn't quite sound true — "gotta hear both sides" pokes fun at its absurdity.
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