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Let Us Explain the WHAT ARE THOOOOSE Meme Before It's Too Late

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Are you an aging "young person" (or even... an adult)who is only vaguely aware of the internet and feels set upon by teens who increasingly resemble a pack of Periscoping hyenas? Are you a little behind on the trends and nervous that cool is slipping away from your peripheral vision? More importantly: Did a youth recently come up to you in a Footlocker, point at your feet, and yell, "WHAT ARE THOOOSE?" before running away cackling? Did this experience leaving you feeling scared and alone? This is for you.

Though the phrase had been around for a while, the current, hyper-meme-ified version of the phrase that's taken over Vine, "WHAT ARE THOOOSE?" originated with Brandon Moore, a.k.a. Young Busco, a man so heroic and virtuous he has literally been assaulted in the pursuit of answers to life's greatest question: "WHAT ARE THOOOSE?" In an Instagram video posted June 14, Moore asked this question of a police officer arresting a women for drinking in public, and launched a movement.

Free Myesha fast

A video posted by Snapchat @youngbusco (@youngbusco) on



Like many of the best memes, "WHAT ARE THOOOSE?" is infinitely flexible, allowing its conceit to be applied to practically any situation where mediocre footwear is involved. (Most situations, if we're being honest.) Being "WHAT ARE THOOOOSE"-ed should be a wake-up call, an alarm suggesting you reevaluate your shoes, the first inkling that maybe your life hasn't gone the way you hoped it would. If someone asks you "WHAT ARE THOSE" you might need to take a personal day off from work. At least get some new Adidas or something, pay for an extra appointment with your therapist. Admit your shoes are lame -- she's probably wanted to point it out for a while.

Accordingly, the meme evolved to encompass a vast array of cases in which someone needed to get called out, or where even the possibility existed. Many of the early instances focused on pre-existing pop culture, in everything from Spongebob to Arthur to this look at a sightly meaner version of Forrest Gump.



And as borderline sociopathic kids prowled the streets looking for content, not even their grandparents were safe.



Admittedly, the pure humor of the meme peaked early. This is the undisputed ruler of "WHAT ARE THOOOOSE" memes -- a clip from Jurassic Park with some, er, interesting footwear added to the dinosaurs.



WHAT ARE THOOOOOSE? More importantly, why are those? The thing that makes the Jurassic Park iteration so hilarious (to the point where, several times during the past few weeks, I have spontaneously burst into laughter simply after remembering that it exists) is a combination of elements using the original meme structure as a skeleton. Like, is it because Sam Neill is crying with joy at seeing the Yeezy Boosts? Is it because there's a magical world where dinosaurs have access to Kanye's shoes and won't give them to anyone else? Does anyone know?

No one knew, and yet the meme persisted, to the point where even adoring Directioners were throwing it out at shows. If Harry Styles isn't safe from "WHAT ARE THOOOSE?" can anyone be said to truly be free from angst, from the possibility that at any moment they might be set upon by merciless youths with camera phones?
 


And Complex literally asked Nick Young what those were. But as the meme has aged (seriously, a few months is like an eternity in meme-time -- Moore has already moved on to asking people "WHAT IS THAT?"), people have found interesting ways to use the meme, calling attention to lame things that aren't shoes. For example:


Would Judith Butler be proud that gender performativity found its way into these meme tweet? Let's hope so. Now that you, a human too chill to keep up with the hunger that drives new trends, understand "WHAT ARE THOOOOSE?" the half-life of the meme has dropped by about six weeks. You're meme-ing on borrowed time. So go out there, find a child with lame shoes picked out by his or her parents, and just ask one simple question.


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