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The Meteoric Rise of Left Shark

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I finally got around to watching the Super Bowl halftime show yesterday, because I wanted to see the sharks everyone was talking about. They stole the show in just a few seconds.

The dancer who came to be known as “Left Shark” has become an instant meme, not only because of the frankly weird but cute shark costume, but his seemingly confused and clumsy fin movements in those few seconds. These poor guys danced in multiple costumes that night, with little rehearsal because the original dancers from Mesa Community College were replaced by Katy Perry a few days before the show. Also, their choreographer said they were supposed to be goofy. Not that any critique of Left Shark’s performance mattered; the internet immediately fell in love with him.

The Birth of a Meme

As Venus was born from the sea, so was the Left Shark meme. That is, according to redditor soren121. While most sharks are born at sea, this one was birthed at the Super Bowl, and incubated on the internet.

Flipbook

YouTube member The Flippist did what he does with the new subject of Left Shark: he wasted no time at all getting this up on YouTube Sunday night before midnight.

Shark Boy and Lava Girl: The Sequel

Danny Nolan recognized these characters from a childhood film, even though they are all grown up now.

Shark Tank

Josh Laincz put the shark back on TV.

Jaws

Yes, we all thought about putting the friendly, joyful, and somewhat inept Left Shark into the most terrifying shark story of all. SB Nation went ahead and did it.

Jumping the Shark

Michael Katz saw an obvious opportunity to incorporate Left Shark where he belongs.

Shark Week

But even if Left Shark has jumped the shark, we’ll no doubt see him again in August, according to redditor GutOfBrick.

Left Shark Tattoo

Matty Clark of Denver wasted no time at all in getting a Left Shark tattoo the day after the Super Bowl. Before you judge, this is not his first shark tattoo. In fact, his nickname is "Matty Shark."

T-Shirts

On-demand printing makes it possible for a meme to be offered on a t-shirt as quickly as an artist can render a design, which for some is no time at all. Left Shark dances on this one from the NeatoShop. And it’s not the only one

San Jose Sharks

It occurred to hockey fans that the San Jose Sharks should incorporate this character. The jersey on the left is a joke, but the t-shirt on the right is not, and is being sold for fans to wear to the Stadium Series game.

Shark Suit

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There’s just enough time to get this exact suit designed and manufactured for Halloween 2015. Men's clothing outlet Bonobos is taking pre-orders already for a Shark Suit of your own. No doubt there will be others with Left Shark suits of varying quality and price points before October.

Left Shark was far from the only part of the Super Bowl halftime show that was mocked this week, but it emerged as the one image that will stay with us the longest. At least into next week. The Super Bowl Sharks reached peak mainstream last night with an appearance on The Late Late Show, guest-hosted by John Mayer.

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Pop Culture
Eduard Khil: The Soviet Union Pop Star Who Became a Meme
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EduardKhilFans, YouTube

If you haven’t seen Eduard Khil in the flesh, you may have seen any number of parody videos acknowledging his internet infamy. Shows like Family Guy and Jimmy Kimmel Live! have referenced Khil’s peculiar 1976 performance, where the Russian singer performs a non-lexical, vocable version of a song—a wordless, carbonated babble baritone that’s better seen than described.

Khil is the recent subject of a Google Doodle, the search engine's landing page spotlight on interesting figures in history, and it's led to another wave of publicity in what could be considered a third act in his long career.

Born in 1934, Khil’s hometown of Smolensk was eventually occupied by Nazi Germany: A budding performer, he sang for wounded soldiers at area hospitals. Though he later studied opera at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, he fell in love with pop music and pursued it as a career. In the Soviet Union, however, the kind of provocative lyrics and performances being seen in America were simply not possible: Anything even remotely sexual or suggestive would be censored. When he chose to sing about a cowboy riding home to his wife on the farm, he substituted the actual lyrics for nonsense syllables like “tra la la” or “trololo.”

Footage of his 1976 performance—where Khil appears in a muddy brown suit against a pallid backdrop while singing with great enthusiasm—eventually made its way online. Viewers were taken with his stage presence (he sometimes matched his eyebrows to the beat) and the fact that his “trololo” was an anachronistic reference to “trololol,” internet shorthand for trolling. American entertainers like Stephen Colbert latched on to the footage, and Russia even took note of the interest: The song was played during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

In 2010, just two years before his death at age 77, news outlets began to reach out to the now-retired singer to get his reaction to the sudden surge in interest. "I'm very pleased, but I wasn't surprised because it is really a beautiful tune," he told Radio Free Europe in 2010. "I tried to make it cheerful. It's such a radiant song. Even though it was composed in 1966, it doesn't sound outdated."

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Leo Wins an Oscar: The Meme
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Leonardo DiCaprio has been on our screens (and in our hearts) since he was just a kid, and he's been earning Oscar nominations since he was a teenager. Starting with his Best Supporting Actor nod for What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), to his more recent Best Actor nominations for The Aviator (2004), Blood Diamond (2006), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and The Revenant (2015), the 41-year-old has proven to be a resilient and reliable leading man. And although there have been plenty of actors who take years to get their due, the good people of the Internet made DiCaprio’s lack of an Oscar a particular pet project.

Various Leo memes have been around since 2011, when Funny or Die remixed the movie J. Edgar (for which DiCaprio was nominated for a Golden Globe, but snubbed by the Academy) to tell the story.

In the years since, there have been plenty of jokes about Leo's quest for the elusive Academy Award. And then Sunday night, it happened.

Was it real? There was some doubt, especially when we recall what happened at the Miss Universe pageant when host Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner.

Other things could have gone wrong. After all, his Oscar win was for the movie The Revenant. Another possible outcome is illustrated in this flip book from The Flippist.

The original flip book is up for auction on eBay, with proceeds going to the the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. And then there’s this animation of the years-long saga.

DiCaprio seems to have a good sense of humor about his 20-plus year quest for an Oscar. After the ceremony, he was recorded joking about his lack of knowledge about post-winning protocol as his name was engraved on the statuette.

"You do this every year? I wouldn't know."

So, do you think that will be the end of the jokes? We doubt it.

The end of one meme is the beginning of another.

But all kidding aside, the award is official, and no one can take it away now. Jack Dawson finally won an Oscar, and you can get a custom T-shirt (design above) to celebrate. Congratulations, Leo!

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