A professional martial artist, former Air Force veteran, actor, film producer, and entrepreneur, Chuck Norris became a living meme legend after a 2006 Time magazine interview called him an “online cult hero”. Something Awful, a comedy website that houses various content such as bad movie reviews, parodies, and digitally edited pictures, featured Chuck Norris as a famous action persona and people tied together his starring in those many action movies with his appearance on this photoshop-encouraged website. In 1972, Bruce Lee had asked him to play his opponent during a fight scene in the Roman Colosseum in Return of the Dragon, where he confidently stated, “you want me to beat up the current World Karate Champion? Of course not, I want to kill the current World Karate Champion.” This was the start of his Karate/Ju-jitsu career and created his phenomenal reputation of the best fighter in the world, however true that may be. His performance in MIA 2 in 1985, where he had to replace a prop rat with a real dead rat that he pretended to eat (actually in his mouth with blood on his face), sparked the beginning of a specific character due to his willingness to go above and beyond. Then, in Walker Texas Ranger, he grabbed a rattle snake with his bare hands, was bitten, then instructed to go to the hospital by the snake wrangler. The combination of these three action scenes in his acting career inevitably made it out into the public, which led to thousands of memes made about his daredevil and fearless personality. Of course, spiraling over the years, the meme content progressed from surviving a snake bite to being able to complete tasks that are humanly impossible.
Relating to the circuit of culture, there has been significant reproduction and mutations of these types of memes, making them increasingly improbable and enjoyable. For example, in 2008 there was a text meme that said, “Chuck Norris doesn’t dial the wrong number, you answered the wrong phone”, which progressed years later into texts such as, “death once had a near-Chuck Norris experience”. He even was so familiar with memes made about him that he made a joke with the same-type humor in Expendables 2. The meme culture surrounding Chuck Norris and his super-human-like abilities had a big impact on digital media in the early twenty-first century. As people started becoming more exposed to this culture, it inspired people to show off their creative sides and start making memes of their own. This generation of teens and young adults grew up with meme culture advancing into a certain type of humor that stays relatively in the “inner circle”, where it is hard to become involved if one wasn’t there from the start. The production aspect of the circuit of culture was greatly represented because people from all over the world who were exposed to this content were encouraged to alter and reproduce memes to keep the trend alive.
Just like Richard Dawkins stated, memes are like genetics in which they can mutate and evolve into something entirely new and can be traced back to the start to locate the original content. He declared, “[m]emes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.” Just like how an idea can seem a certain way in one mind, it could look entirely different in another which is the beauty behind meme culture and builds artistic originality. Jacques Monod compared this to an abstract kingdom, where ideas have power and potential to exhibit change, even if those ideas arise from something so simple like comedic text over a picture. Although Chuck Norris memes are meant to cause laughter as its main purpose, it can bring together a community of makers, as well as followers, to share ideas and evolve over time. The time period in which Chuck Norris memes were viral was one that encouraged people to become self-made creators and continue spreading the joy that meme culture carries.
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OfficialFirat. (2012, November 26). Chuck Norris scene in The Expendables 2 HD 720p. Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feZB6eWSk_w&t=164
Scott00. (2006, March 11). Chuck Norris facts read by Chuck Norris. Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA_hMq-JUOE
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