The 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards are going to a place that they haven’t gone before: the Internet. For the first time ever, we’ll be crowning the Most Meme-able Moment from the past year, and the nominees are all pretty damn iconic.
But unlike every other category, which require blood, sweat, and tears to reach their icon status, memes reach the milestone practically overnight. They always start with a person just living their life as they normally would. They’re caught on camera doing something instantly meme-able and don’t realize it until the Internet points it out, slaps a hashtag on it, and starts replicating and referencing the moment.
From #DoTheLilo to #RayJHatChallenge, here’s how this year’s Most Meme-able Moment nominees came to be.
- The Lilo Dance
People were already talking about Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club months before its premiere thanks to this little clip of the club owner’s dancing, captured and shared on Instagram by generous user, @heyitsneilwang. The world rejoiced, and even Lohan herself shared the clip, welcoming the hashtag #DoTheLilo.
Even though the star has since deleted the clip — probably because the whole thing was “so embarrassing,” as she told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show — the hashtag lived on, inspiring replica dances, feeling descriptors, and even fan art.
So, how did all this goodness come to be? It was simple. “We had a pride party,” Lohan told Fallon. “They pulled me up on stage and I’m like, OK, I’m going to dance.” And that, my friends, is how meme history is made.
- Ray J’s Hat
This meme arrived courtesy of good ol’ fashioned reality TV editing on Love & Hip-Hop Hollywood. The moment went down during a tense chat between Safaree Samuels and Ray J — but the content of the conversation has literally nothing to do with anything we’re interested in. No, the star of the scene was Ray J’s hat, which, every time the camera cut to Ray J, was in a completely different spot on his head. It wasn’t sliding around all over the place; it was just constantly rearranged, seemingly without anyone doing the rearranging.
Twitter user @Rawshaud noticed the laughable continuity and posted the clip, which quickly spawned the #RayJHatChallenge, encouraging fans to upload their own versions of the editing mishap. Even Safaree got in on the joke!
Soon after the clip went viral, Ray J cleared the air with TMZ. “My hat and my head was trying to connect, right? And so I think my hat was trying to get comfortable, but just couldn’t find its way on the couch right,” he said, adding that the 40-second scene was condensed from a 90-minute conversation. “This hat had a mind of its own.”
- The Notorious RBGPat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Ruth Bader Ginsberg has been a Supreme Court justice since 1993, but it would be another two decades before she became known as Notorious RBG. It all started with the Notorious RBG Tumblr from then-law student Shana Knizhnik in 2013. Two years later, she would go on to co-author a book of the same name with Irin Carmon. Around the same time, Kate McKinnon started delivering Ginsburns on SNL, and the meme continued to gain steam as RBG’s likeness popped up on shirts and posters at Women’s Marches around the country in honor of the work she’s done for gender equality throughout her game-changing career.
The meme reached a new high with the 2018 release of RBG, a documentary about the justice’s life and legacy, bringing an even greater awareness of her longtime badassery to the general population. Given the current politicking threatening reproductive rights, RBG has become an unofficial mascot of the modern equality movement and pushback against the Trump administration’s regressive policies.
So that’s what all those bobbleheads, action figures, pins, and other products are all about. And it’s worth noting that the real RBG is into her own meme-ification!
- Asia O’Hara’s Butterfly Finale Fail
A RuPaul’s Drag Race fan-favorite queen was dethroned when a Season 10 finale stunt failed to take off. In an attempt to really wow the judges, Asia O’Hara planned to release live butterflies from her costume mid-lip sync performance — but the actual moment ended up being more of a “woooooow” when the butterflies, rather than beautifully flying out of their hidden pockets, clung onto their mesh holdings or dully fell to the ground. Since the show must go on, Asia continued dancing, brushing past the incident, making it look all the more cringe-worthy.
Reactions started flooding Twitter as soon as the moment aired. PETA condemned the act in an official statement, and Asia quickly issued an apology and announced that she would be donating 100 volunteer hours to the ASCPA in retribution.
Later, Asia spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the stunt-gone-wrong, where she explained that the butterflies were in hibernation mode, hence their inactivity, and assured fans that even though the moment didn’t turn out as intended, she had taken the appropriate precautions ahead of the performance. “I was very careful and took a lot of time to research it… It wasn’t a careless act,” she said. “I have the utmost respect for everything that draws breath and would never purposely hurt a butterfly or any animal. I rehearsed with a professional company that specializes in safe butterfly releases and the moment was intended to be an amazing display of optimism as well as a surprise for everyone involved, including the audience, production, and the network.”
It certainly wasn’t a great look, but is there anything more iconic than Monique’s reaction?
- Colton Underwood Jumps The Fence
After years of promising “the most dramatic season of The Bachelor ever,” Chris Harrison finally delivered. Near the end of his journey to happily ever after, Colton Underwood became the first Bachelor ever to fully walk off the show, and since the producers keep their talent highly guarded, that walk-off involved a swift pop over the fence meant to keep him caged.
The rare unplanned moment occurred after Cassie Randolph — one of his suitresses, and also The One, as we found out that night — broke up with Colton, leaving him completely blindsided. “I just needed time to myself,” he later said on Good Morning America. “I needed to get away, just figure things out. Try to figure things out.” And the only way to get the space he needed was to run away and get lost for a while in the middle of the night in Portugal, fences be damned.
The Bachelor milked the moment all season, teasing it every chance they got and practically willing it into meme-dom. It worked, obviously, and the fence-jump became the most anticipated, most talked-about moment of the season. We now know that the producers eventually found Colton safe and sound, and he and Cassie are still together, so all’s well that ends well — even if this acrobatic display will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Find out which meme reigns supreme during the MTV Movie & TV Awards, airing on Monday, June 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.