Are there other countries where meme culture is almost evolving into celebrity culture?

I run a Danish meme page and I'm very immersed in the culture. For a long time, it has basically been an unspoken rules that Danish instagram meme pages must be original content (sometimes some low effort and "haha funny translations" are tolerated though, or if you give translations a unique Danish spin). Stealing memes are frowned upon. There are some who do it, most notably someone called Anders Hemmingsen that 20% of the country follows, but by the original meme community he is very very hated, and by many outsiders as well. The community is very tight knit with many being friends or having dated. I particularly remember one meme researcher describing it as "like artsy punk communes in the 80's".

So far, there has been two radio programs (and radio is still fairly popular here) about memes by memers, featuring these page admins. Several newspaper articles, and a fairly big interview with one particular memer. I have a feeling there's more to come. Basically, meme page admins are now, if not celebs, at least... content creators? Digital artists? Influencers? It's hard to tell.

Being a small country with a small language certainly helps here, we aren't drowning in a sea of content. Smaller pages are more easily discovered, and when "across the country" is a 3-4 train ride, meet-ups are certainly easier. On the English internet, I wonder "what doesn't exist on here?" On the Danish internet, I wonder what does exist, what niches need to be filled.

Anyway, that's enough. Basically I'm wondering, is this uniquely Danish? If it is, I have a couple of theories as to why that might be, but I don't want to make assumptions. How foreign does this sound to all of you?

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Holy shit, that's a lot of people. Do they have a lot of cultural influence because of it? That does sound extremely unusual. Is there even an equivalent in the Anglosphere? Maybe Trump or Musk's Twitter accounts count as examples of memepages, but they didn't get their start as memers.

This sounds like the Early Ironic Era (2013-2015) when "Historical Alliteration Memes" were the most popular format. People made a memepage specifically about a country (e.g. Edgy Egyptian Memes; Jammin' Japanese Memes; Stern Saxon Memes; Kinky But Kosher Korean Memes; Absurd Aztec Memes). There's a private meme community based around a memepage about Saddam Hussein from this era, and it also became a tight-knit group with dating and friendship.

But each page from the era had very small followings of a few thousand each, because the scene itself was small. Quite different from the Danish example where the potential pool of fans is much larger (relatively speaking) but only a few people are making content that suits them. Maybe the speed and effectiveness with which an individual can generate new memes is so much greater today that it's easy for one person to dominate an unmet niche like that.

No, but that’s the thing, he isn’t really dominating nor does he has a lot of influence, because people hate him. He only posts very normie, easy to understand content. To average people, he probably does, but he doesn’t or barely try out new trends (other than starter packs when they still felt new). Most Danish meme pages have a few thousand followers, with some of the bigger fish having like 20,000 - that’s a lot. In one of the newspaper articles, several memers with 1000-3000 followers were quoted and even one person with under 1000 followers. The smaller meme pages, often called niche memers, can be very specific and as weird and shitposty as elsewhere, although it did take some time to get there. There was a long time where it was mostly “normie” (hate that phrase) stuff for sure. There are highly specific meme pages on there. In ~November ‘21, a notable amount of “girlboss” memers started.

Another thing. Like half of them are women and a disproportionate amount a queer. Very interesting. I was about to start a discussion about women in the meme space and why there are so many of them compared to traditional comedy.

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Another thing. A couple of times people have all talked together and posted the same new trend or format of memes all at once, like within an hour or minutes. That’s also pretty cool

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Alright, check this out:

As far as I know, this is the only work detailing the different sizes of Facebook memepages during the period:

  • Smaller pages (under 10,000 followers by mid-2017 standards; under 1000 by 2014 standards)
  • Medium pages (~75,000 by 2017 standards; ~10,000 by 2014 standards)
  • Large pages (~250,000 by 2017 standards; ~20,000 by 2014 standards)
  • massive (~500,000 by 2017 standards; 50,000 by 2014 standards)

You should note down your findings about how big or small those Danish pages are and what kinds of pages they tend to be. It's valuable information that will be difficult to retrieve at a later date. You can do it on the forum first if you want; each post gets its own URL, and you can cite them.

in the US context my first point of comparison is the rise of influencer culture. Many successful youtubers got their start making memes on Vine, and have subsequently pivoted into full scale celebrities. Many youtubers command more attention and make more money than celebrities in other media. Greatest example here is probably the Paul brothers. However these people lose the status of "meme makers" in the process and become subjects of memes rather than curators.

The other point of comparison is meme group admins becoming news subjects- news coverage around large groups like NUMTOTs sometimes get interviewed for news pieces, the anti-work subreddit mods made it on Fox News, and so on.

But the concept of someone generating personal fame for their memes and only their memes doesn't seem that common in the Anglo-shpere to me. We seem to use memes as a means to an end in the states.

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I observe kind of similarities in the swiss-german sphere: there are a couple of early age memelords who became kind-of celebrities and are now working for big media companies (private-owned as well as national broadcaster) and/or have advertsing contracts with brands.

one of the most famous of these "memefluencers" is Zeki Bulgurcu who is without doubt a pioneer in the swiss-german memesphere, as he created the still running memepage "Swissmeme" in the early 2010s. although he's not very liked by other memepage admins, as he makes normie-memes and often "just" translates succesful memes from english to swiss-german (which of course no one else does).

then a couple of months ago there was a beef between a small meme page and a bigger one, who had stolen a shirt-design the smaller made back in the days. that beef was a "hot topic" in the meme bubble and so even the biggest tabloid newspaper covered the story. maybe also because the shirt design had a photograph from a Swiss federal council on it and they used (of course) the opportunity to ask the question if this is even legal or not. here's a link to the story (in german): Ärger für Insta-Pages – Alain Berset will keine Memes von sich dulden - 20 Minuten

but idk if there will rise more memefluencers in the near future, since there's now a big "middle class" of memepages who have influence in their niche bubble, but will still remain a little fish in the mainstream. I rather see the tendency that they'll continue to create their own ecosystem with online magazines, podcasts and so on.

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This is already the case in the anglosphere with English-speaking memepage admins and shitposters (oftentimes with services like Substack acting as "Twitter's paywall" and podcasts replacing memepages as primary vehicles of collaboration and even social networking generally (I think this is good; collaborating on memes is an inefficient way to pool creative effort). I wonder what kind of infrastructures memers would need to effectively cooperate so that they don't have to exit to media companies to make a living. Means TV is an example. They're a worker cooperative producing video content, and the memepage admin Teenage Stepdad has a series about memes on their service:

Here's a paper about Teenage Stepdad: “You Say You’re Anti-Capitalist…Yet You Earn a Living!”: Teenage Stepdad and the Memeification of Culture Jamming · Issue 34: InVisible Memes for Cultural Teens

On a smaller scale, we had this thread a few weeks ago about hyperlocal instagram shitposting pages, which seems to be a smaller scale of what you're describing about meme celebrities.

I wonder to what extent the phenomenon of internet celebrity is tied to locales and to what extent where you post from doesn't matter. The success of the aforementioned pages is really hinged on the local nature of the posters, but perhaps also limits the upper limit of page growth as the pages seem to be tied to posting 'in jokes' about their suburbs and cities.

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