Over the last few weeks, the cartoon aardvark has transitioned from 90s TV star to Internet sensation
Over the last week or so, our social media feeds have been flooded with memes of cartoon animals from the 90s. Don’t be afraid, I’m not referencing Pokémon. I’m talking about a different institution from our childhoods; a cultural foundation for those of us not lucky enough to have had cable TV growing up. I’m talking about Arthur.
We all know Arthur, right? The walking, talking aardvark-child hybrid who’s been keeping kids all over the world entertained since 1996. While we might all remember how sick the show was, that doesn’t explain the explosion of Arthur memes filling up our feeds. Despite seeming like Arthur and his pals would be relegated to the world of dank memes pretty quick, instead they seem to be ramping it up. But why? To try and break it down, we’ve rounded up and dissected five of the best from this glut of treasure online.
This relates on so many levels. Everyone with a MacBook and a turntable seems to list “DJ/producer” as a side-profession these days, and Facebook live makes sure we’re bombarded with home-shot footage of people’s homemade music constantly. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to make music, of course, and it’s great that everyone has the capacity to fulfil those heady dreams of becoming a musical star. But haven’t we all been Arthur at least once? Haven’t we all promised effusively to check someone’s stuff out online and not followed through? Living in 2016 means we barely have time to listen to the artists we already hold dear, let alone make time for everyone’s SoundCloud ensemble.
Thanks to the huge debts that young adults have incurred in the name of higher education, a housing ladder that’s impossible to ascend unless you’re basically a millionaire and a world socio-economic system that’s going down the drain, we’re an entire epoch that’s apparently totally fucked. This is an era of people working the longest hours and earning the least for it, an era doomed to live eternally in the red of their overdrafts and never own their own homes. But it’s not all bad. Without mortgages to pay off, saving seems pointless and our income post-rent is pretty much disposable. Plus we’re so broke all the time we know how to have fun on a shoestring. All of that means, come the weekend, we can happily jizz away our extra cash on fripperies, eating out and getting wonky.
GRIME RESURGENCE ARTHUR
This video is the creation of a genius. It references the Grime resurgence, but it also speaks of the state of music in general. We live in a world where the sheer amount of audio that we have access to today is mindboggling, meaning the discovery of a track that really hits you is something rare and precious. The cohort in the comments section of this clip frantically asking “what is this”? are people who have just experienced an out of body experience after first hearing those snarling, aggressive synths. They, like all of us, are on the hunt for that Holy Grail in music’s internet age – a track so good it’ll send you on a journey through time and space.
This condenses into one captioned image the struggle that women face by its direct reference to club culture. It reminds us of the sad state of affairs where women are denied the right to just say no to a guy they’re not interested in and shows the ridiculous lengths they have to go to in order to dodge seedy advances. The positive backlash to recognising this has been a rising awareness amongst both men and women. Clubs and festivals are pledging to make women feel safe on their premises and misogyny is now officially a hate crime in the UK. There’s also been a really beautiful rise in the creation of safe spaces for people identifying as female, meaning a whole lot less time spent elaborately swerving shady guys.
This is the simplest and most versatile of the Arthur memes. Modern life really can be shitty and seems to only be getting shittier. The curled fist speaks to a generation of eternally frustrated people filled with simmering rage at the status quo. From small-scale day-to-day vexations like Frank Ocean delaying his album AGAIN, to the existence of Donald Trump, the fist is a response. It’s a symbol of the scores of people who aren’t impotent or apathetic to what’s going on around them, but who are instead taking note and voicing their anger on social media; a sort of online revolution against the general crappiness of 2016. Isn’t a picture worth a thousand words?