Surely you saw the #OccupyWallStreet pepper-spraying cop Internet meme. And perhaps since then you’ve been inspired to create your own Internet meme. If so, then take a hint from the “Hey Girl” Ryan Gosling Internet meme, which features a picture of the actor alongside an intellectual pick-up line. It’s been going strong since December 2010, and it’s not disappearing anytime soon.
Ryan Gosling Feminist, one of the smarter iterations of this meme was created by Danielle Henderson, a graduate student in the University of Wisconsin Madison’s women and gender studies program. We asked her a few questions about her take on the popularity of “Hey Girl.” And just days after we did that, the Internet produced Museum Hey Girl, for the artier among us. Hey Girl Happy Hannukah appeared on December 20, the first day of the holiday.
The idea for RyanGoslingFeminist came about after lunch with a few new graduate school friends who hadn’t heard of the “Hey Girl” meme. Henderson decided to introduce them to it by creating a few flash cards based on the theory they were learning. The she posted them to Tumblr, and RyanGoslingFeminist was born. This was on a Friday evening. By that Saturday morning, Jezebel picked it up.
This is not at all the first celebrity-inspired Internet memes. LesbiansWhoLookLikeJustinBieber points to the secret that everyone fears blurting lest they appear homophobic – Justin Bieber is as androgynous as most boyish lesbians, and vice versa. And then there’s RappersDoingNormalShit, which makes the all-mighty rapper appear as mundane as your boring next-door neighbor.
These memes are never-ending virtual art shows curated by either one person or the collective Internet. Henderson wasn’t really thinking about that when she created FeministRyanGosling, which provides a feminist context to the blank slate that is the open-ended “Hey Girl” meme.
“I don’t really follow memes, and don’t think of what I’m doing as fitting into that category,” she tells us. “I’m still just posting flashcards for my friends, and could stop the whole thing tomorrow. I have no allegiance to this format. I’m just a nerd trying to get through the semester.”
Truth be told, she actually dislikes memes and the collective impact they’ve had on the Internet-at-large.
“It’s like in junior high when people would repeat the same joke over and over again until eventually it removed all joy and just filled you with contempt,” she says. “I think memes contribute to the community feeling everyone thinks the Internet should instill in us so that we don’t feel so bad about spending most of our free time communicating to a machine, but they mostly serve to remind me how unoriginal and boring we’ve become.”
“It’s like in junior high when people would repeat the same joke over and over again until eventually it removed all joy and just filled you with contempt. I think memes contribute to the community feeling everyone thinks the Internet should instill in us so that we don’t feel so bad about spending most of our free time communicating to a machine, but they mostly serve to remind me how unoriginal and boring we’ve become.”
Like the nice guy who won’t leave your side, Ryan Gosling hangs on till the bitter end – even when the meme he inspires makes us feel like completely unoriginal pop culture-obsessed media consumers. Henderson, for one, counts herself as one engaged in this love/hate relationship with memes. “I’m including myself here, of course,” she tells us, “as what I’m doing is totally derivative.”
Here’s a full list of the “Hey Girl” meme iterations that we’ve found.
- Hey Girl I’m A Serial Killer
- Librarian Hey Girl
- Ex-Boyfriend Ryan Gosling
- Feminist Ryan Gosling
- Ryan Gosling Disneyland Cats
- Typographer Ryan Gosling
- Fuck Yeah Ryan Gosling
- Museum Hey Girl
- Hey Girl Shabbat Shalom
- Manarchist Ryan Gosling
- Public Policy Ryan Gosling
- Law School Ryan Gosling
- Preservationist Ryan Gosling
- Stage Manager Ryan Gosling
- “Campaign Staff” Ryan Gosling
- Biostatistics Ryan Gosling
- Medieval History Ryan Gosling
- Handmade Ryan Gosling
- Programmer Ryan Gosling
- Silicon Valley Ryan Gosling
- Teacher Ryan Gosling
Please enjoy a few more variations on “Hey Girl.” We picked these especially for you.
Ryan Gosling Typography
Ryan Gosling Feminist
Ryan Gosling Stage Manager
Did we miss any variations on “Hey Girl”? Let us know in the comments below. We’ll add them to the list.