memes
Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP, Jack Brockway—Getty Images, @nusr_et—Instagram, @chrismelberger—Twitter; Photo Illustration by Kenneth Bachor for TIME

The Best Memes of 2017 So Far

May 31, 2017

Some of 2017’s best memes on the internet have already happened.

The year has been a surprise machine. From Beyoncé's pregnancy to an astonishing Oscars mix-up, the fodder was steady. So to capture the most unforgettable events, people created some creative, cathartic and hilarious memes. There were memes that made internet celebrities out of everyday people and memes that were the release valve people needed.

Below, the year’s ten best memes so far.

MORE: Best Late-Night Moments of the Year So Far

Salt Bae

With just a dash of salt in a flashy viral video, the internet crowned butcher and entrepreneur Nusret Gökçe as “#saltbae.” People shared the flamboyant video with captions about triumphant finishing touches, and Gökçe continued to attract internet groupies with his looks, his sensual feelings for meats and that swagger. Months later, he’s still relishing the moment, opening new restaurants and making headlines whenever he recreates his salty moves. No one has ever achieved this status with seasonings.

George W. Bush and His Inauguration Day Poncho

George W. Bush was one of several high-profile politicians who attended the inauguration and watched as Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. As rain began to fall, Bush tried to use a poncho to stay dry. He laughed when the poncho blew into his face, and the internet could not stop poking fun at the photos of his struggle. The transition of power can be stressful no matter who you voted for, but thank the heavens for this uncooperative rain gear.

Executive Order Drawings

If there’s one meme that proved it could endure, it was this one. During Trump's first week in the Oval Office, he made a number of significant decisions, including his personal choice to hold up executive actions he signed for the cameras. People got right down to transforming those images into memes of childhood illustrations like a cat (spelled kat). In the internet's grand tradition, people had even more fun when Bernie Sanders and Paul Ryan offered America more blank slates onto which it could Photoshop whatever it wanted to see.

Kellyanne Conway's Couch Photo

In February, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was photographed kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office to capture a shot of the President’s listening session with leaders from historically black universities. Her casual pose — which some found disrespectful — immediately became a meme, with takes ranging from silly to surprisingly artistic. Saturday Night Live even used it as a running joke throughout an episode. In response, Conway said she wished people focused on the meeting instead.

The Moonlight-La La Land Oscars Mix-up

Shock spread at the 2017 Oscars as everyone learned that Moonlight actually won Best Picture, not La La Land as originally announced. To set the record straight, the musical’s producer Jordan Horowitz held up the accurate card: Best Picture Moonlight. La La Land was never supposed to be on the final card, and neither were a bunch of other things that quickly took over the internet in meme-form. There were endless "Envelopegate" possibilities for Beyoncé fans, Hillary Clinton supporters and several people who loved Space Jam.

Obama’s Post-White House Kitesurfing Adventure

President Barack Obama can already add one key contribution to his post-White House career: he became a meme (again). Photos of him looking super relaxed while kitesurfing around Richard Branson’s island served as the perfect fodder for the internet. So much so, in fact, that one image showing the exact moment Obama realized his life was a permanent vacation from running the country became an instant meme.

Beyoncé's Pregnancy Announcement

Beyoncé's February pregnancy announcement broke the internet — for days. When she dropped the news that she and Jay Z were pregnant with twins via Instagram, the photo instantly became an iconic meme, as is often the case when Beyoncé does a thing. This photo had Beyoncé on top of a truck covered flowers. It had religious overtones. But most importantly, it had Beyoncé pregnant with twins. Bless this new art form that Beyoncé elevated.

BBC Dad and His Kids

Part of what makes this meme so notable is how quickly this video of two cute kids interrupting their dad's Skype interview with the BBC blew up to score international buzz. When political science professor Robert E. Kelly's daughter, Marion, crashed his live interview, her indifference toward whatever her father was trying to do won everyone over. The dad later explained she was "in a hippity hoppity mood," and the video made an internet hero out of the daughter and spawned multiple parodies. Post-spike, people continued to use her adorable entrance to show how they aspired to waltz into situations with unflappable confidence.

A Meme That Wraps Together Three Controversies

During a week of controversy and subsequent social media frenzy, Chris Melberger created a single meme that pulled together three headline-grabbing PR nightmares. And so the trio — United Airlines' dragging incident, Pepsi's ill-advised Kendall Jenner commercial and Sean Spicer's inaccurate comments about Hitler not using chemical weapons — achieved immortality when Melberger combined three into one image. It garnered more than 21,000 likes overnight — and some really cathartic comments.

Helen Lasichanh's Met Gala Outfit

When Helen Lasichanh hit the Met Gala with her husband Pharrell, she made waves in a high-concept dress by designer Rei Kawakubo, who inspired the night's theme. Lasichanh sacrificed the use of her arms in the bulbous crimson jumpsuit. High-fashion critics said it was one of the few brave moves of the night known for eccentric getups. The internet responded to her inflatable-looking Commes De Garcons outfit by creating a number of memes, comparing her to trendsetting fictional characters like Violet Beauregarde, a Teletubby, a Transformer and Thumb Thumb.

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