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Ermahgerd! The Girl Behind The Meme Opens Up About Internet Fame

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Images via Memes.com

As actors, pop stars, and politicians likely know, waking up to find your face plastered all over the Internet rarely results in anything good. Of course, most of us "normals" probably don't consider that it could happen to us too, especially if an ill-considered Tweet or embarrassing photo falls into the wrong feed.

As Vanity Fair explains, such was the case for Maggie Goldenberger, who discovered at age 23 that a photo of her snapped maybe a dozen years earlier had suddenly taken the World Wide Web by storm. The image began its meteoric rise into the meme Hall of Fame in 2012 after a 16-year-old Canadian “pretty much just found the picture randomly” while cruising public Facebook photos and posted it to Reddit.

Via YouTube user explodingtoast

Since then, VF reports, the photo has been viewed more than five million times in 340-plus iterations, bringing the term “ermahgerd”—added to the photo by another Reddit user shortly after its upload—to the online masses. What most people don't realize, however, is that the photo so loved for its display of preteen awkwardness was actually part of a game of dress-up, in which Goldenberger was attempting to amuse her friends by imitating bizarre characters.

Goldenberger wasn’t the first to have been unwittingly rocketed to Internet celebrity, of course, and she certainly won’t be the last. For more on what your favorite memes are up to now, check out mental_flossrecent round-up, which includes updates about Sammy Griner, the famously no-nonsense baby, and model Kerin Portillo, who revealed in an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit that the exposure she got from serving as the face of “Sheltered College Freshman” led to lots more work.

[h/t Vanity Fair]


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EduardKhilFans, YouTube
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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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Getty Images

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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