The year 2022 has been a power-packed roller coaster ride—remarkable, miserable, and life-altering in equal parts. For starters, Bollywood hit a new low with its string of big-budget box office disasters. Russian President Vladimir Putin and billionaire bad boy Elon Musk unleashed their respective reigns of terror on unwitting Ukrainian citizens and hapless Twitter employees. We also narrowly escaped Covid-19—which continues to sharpen its claws in the shadows—while Britain witnessed the death of its queen. So, how do you think the world coped with these many unsettling realities? Memes. Good old memes.
Of course, one might argue that Instagram reels have shoved memes aside to install short videos as ‘undisputed’ kings of content, but I would really beg to differ. Memes have captured more than just the essence of this historic year, and the years before it: They have managed to extract chuckles and emojis from their loyal but brain-dead, exhausted, and traumatised audience. The fact that they have continued to be a flicker of hope in uncertain times, and the internet’s leading source of infotainment, really accounts for something.
Which is why it is important to pay tribute to 10 of this year’s most viral meme trends.
Ashneer Grover’s cutthroat remarks on Shark Tank
Ashneer Grover was known as the number-crunching founder of fintech firm Bharat Pe before featuring in the first instalment of Shark Tank India as a jury member. This year, perhaps, was not Grover’s best: He was unceremoniously ousted from a platform he helped create, and then he was uninvited to the second season of Shark Tank India. But despite the hurdles and controversies, Grover has carved a niche of his own as a ruthless shark. His memorable remarks—such as “ye doglapan hai (this is hypocrisy)” have become a crucial part of India’s meme bank and inspired an autobiography titled Doglapan.
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Pooja Misra’s outburst from Bigg Boss Season 5
No one knew who Pooja Misra was—until the starlet’s 11-year-old manic outburst from season 5 of the Indian reality TV show Bigg Boss resurfaced and became fodder for meme gods. Her altercation with fellow contestant Shonali Nagrani became so popular that it made it to BBC Asia Network’s ‘top pop culture moments of 2022’ list. “I broke a broom, I kicked a dustbin, and after a decade, it made history,” quipped Pooja in an interview with The Hindustan Times.
My future kid: “p-p-p…“
Me: Omg he's about to say his first word 🥺
My Kid: “p-p-pooja what is this behaviour?”
— Safa (@itsmesafaaa_) April 25, 2019
India’s Roger Federer, Arbaaz Khan
This year was tough for tennis fans. After all, world number one Roger Federer bid adieu to the sport. But his exit was followed by a series of memes—the most significant one, perhaps, being comparisons with his Bollywood doppelganger Arbaaz Khan—that sure helped grieving fans cope with the great loss.
Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb’s throne wars
History buffs cannot refute that Instagram’s Mad Mughal Memes is a treasure trove of uniquely hilarious (and factually correct) content on India’s medieval past. But as a Mughal history aficionado, what really stood out for me was their series on Aurangzeb’s game of thrones with his brother Dara Shikoh.
Shikoh was heir apparent to the Mughal throne, favoured by his sister Jahanara and father Shah Jahan for the position. But after a bitter fight for power, Aurangzeb had his brother beheaded in 1657, and the rest, as they say, became history—and fuel for Mughal memes.
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Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor in Brahmastra
With its state-of-the-art graphics and unique storyline, Ayaan Mukherjee’s Brahmastra came as a glimmer of hope for flailing, helpless Bollywood. However, from Alia Bhatt’s “Shivaaa” rant to Ranbir Kapoor’s “Isha Mera Button Hai (Isha is my button)” remark, its bizarre dialogues turned into timeless memes.
Credit of #BrahmastraPartOneShiva doing better than other bollywood movies goes to #AliaBhatt .. #BrahmashtraReview #Brahmastramemes pic.twitter.com/mIfSayHXrH
— khujliwaladoc (@getingunderskin) September 14, 2022
Lalit Modi and Sushmita Sen’s short-lived romance
Everyone turned around to gasp when exiled businessman Lalit Modi—in a fairly colourful and emotional post—announced his relationship with former Miss Universe and Bollywood diva Sushmita Sen. Modi’s school-boy-like enthusiasm stood in stark contrast to Sen’s tight-lipped response. It made headlines and sparked a Twitter meme fest that lasted for months.
Will Smith’s Oscar ‘slapgate’
The 94th edition of the Academy Awards had many juicy moments, but the most significant one was Will Smith’s response to comedian Chris Rock’s comments on his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. After Rock joked about Jada’s alopecia, Will slapped the living daylights out of him on live TV. Goes without saying that he had to pay for it:
This meme from March 2022 is a recent classic. Will Smith slapped Chris Rock and is an event from which many memes have been born. It’s important because everyone has an opinion or story about it and because of the various relatable situations applied to the photo #2210folkF22 pic.twitter.com/333jNQfA93
— Nicole Yoshikawa (@NicoleYoshikawa) September 28, 2022
The curious case of Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian
Reality TV queen Kim Kardashian is known to make buzz, but it looks like she found competition in her not-so-long-term partner, comedian Pete Davidson. From their unusual pairing to eventual split and Davidson’s subsequent romantic pursuits, the duo’s short-lived relationship produced a meme too many.
This Valentine's Day remember: If you don't treat her right, Pete Davidson will. #petedavidson #valentinesday #valentine #valentines #ValentinesDay2022 #petedavidsonkimkardashian #kaynewest #customactionfigure #toysaremydrug #customtoys #love #truelove pic.twitter.com/vWGI42peWW
— Retrogimmick (@retrogimmick) February 15, 2022
The FIFA world cup
A once-in-four-year event, FIFA memes were bound to keep the internet abuzz. But the most notable content was produced when Lionel Messi-led Argentina landed a crushing blow to Kylian Mbappe’s France in the 18 December world cup final in Qatar, UAE.
Mbappe realizing that every goal he scores for PSG pushes Messi closer to an 8th ballon d Or pic.twitter.com/OwtVnszG9J
— Nocturnal Animal (@D_hybridtheory) December 18, 2022
Queen Elizabeth II’s demise
While the world mourned Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September, South Asian and African citizens took to memes to highlight her ‘coloniser’ status—forcing the world to introspect on its blind reverence for the late monarch, with a tinge of humour.
The creators behind some of these memes could not be identified because of the nature of the property. We have sourced these images from social media sites.
(Edited by Ratan Priya)