Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Reading: Cool Story, Bro

At the risk of eliciting a hearty “tl;dr” in the comments, I will be brief in relaying this Slate article to you.

If you’re up on your memes, you may be familiar with this picture:

cool story bro

“Cool story, bro” has breathed new life into this unnerving depiction of Hercules by Clayton Henry. Long article, completely straight-faced stories in desperate need of undercutting, statements so obvious as to warrant mockery: all are subject to the sarcastic dismissal that accompanies this cheery Herc.

Slate’s Michael Agger did some Internet digging to uncover this meme’s origin. He cites Know Your Meme, which credits “Cool story, bro” to either the “Youtube poop community” (!) or 4chan. I suppose you can this up yourself, but what’s worth reading is Agger’s analysis of the meme’s mutations.

Like most memes, it began life as an offshoot of something else – the aforementioned “tl;dr” – which is Internet slang for “Get to the point!”  It then morphed into a formidable weapon for troll-slaying. Nothing hurts an incendiary commenter more than being dismissed. What’s funniest to me, however, is how the meme has since folded back in on itself. Agger writes:

“Lately, yet another meaning has become attached to "Cool story, bro:" a nonironic acknowledgement that someone in fact has written a cool story.”

In our current age of planned, conformist irony, what’s more ironic than being sincere?