On April 3rd, 2018, Austin Parrish uploaded his first and soon to be most popular video. In this short 27 second video, two grown men argue over a relatively childish topic: The Wizard of Oz. To be specific, whether or not Glinda, the good witch, was a witch or a princess. Although this premise seems uninteresting, the video amassed over 4.2 million views and 226,000 likes in a year and sparked an internet sensation across multiple platforms. The “Wicked Witch of the East Bro” meme continues to be reproduced on Twitter, Tik Tok, and Instagram. Memes have been around since the beginning of the internet and they continue to evolve and emerge. One such type of meme is called a “copypasta”. This format of meme is a play on the words “copy and paste” in which the same video or text is copied and pasted onto multiple sites. By using this format, the “Wicked Witch of the East Bro” meme has extended far beyond its brief moment of fame.
The original YouTube video, uploaded by user Austin Parrish, begins in the midst of a heated argument. While the context of the argument is not initially apparent, it quickly becomes revealed that the argument is not a life or death situation that the amount of screaming would suggest. The two men shown in the video aggressively yell at each other over the identification of Glinda the Good Witch of the East from The Wizard of Oz. The unnamed taller blonde man forcefully argues Glinda was not a witch, but rather a princess. He states she “wore a crown and came down in a bubble” which qualifies her to be a princess. The shorter bald man expresses his frustration by turning to the camera, saying “I’m gonna stab him.” The blonde man, also agitated with the situation, concludes his argument telling the other to “Grow up man! Grow up!”
This viral video turned into a meme is funny because of its ridiculous nature. Upon an initial reaction, one might dismiss the men in the video for getting so worked up over such a childish topic. However, there is something hilarious about watching two grown men argue over a childhood icon as opposed to a typical topic like sports or politics. The unprofessional cinematography indicates this footage was shot in the spur of the moment, in an unplanned argument between friends. Not only do they yell at each other to “Hold on! Hold on! HOLD ON!” but they throw their hands up and make various aggressive gestures towards each other like over the top aggressive head nodding. The audience can viscerally feel the intense emotions of this ridiculous argument. The shaky camera work and background noises of laughter (and sometimes wheezing) create the perfect homemade viral video.
This video gained millions of views and continues to be referenced in social media today. It has transcended YouTube, with users reposting it on Tik Tok, Instagram, and Twitter. On Tik Tok, the tag #wickedwitchoftheeastbro has over 23.2 million videos, with several reposts amassing tens of thousands of likes. Typically, this particular meme is reproduced by using the transcript or audio of the video. Mutations of this meme use specific phrases from the original video to represent certain emotions. For example, Tik Tok has repurposed the audio to be used for other people to lip sync to in order to accurately recreate the video or creatively use the transcript in other ways.
For platforms that rely more on writing and pictures, like Twitter, one might post a reaction image of people screaming with the caption: “HOLD ON. HOLD ON. HOLD ON! HER SISTER WAS A WITCH RIGHT?! AND WHAT WAS HER SISTER?! A PRINCESS! THE WICKED WITCH OF THE EAST BRO! ARE YOU GONNA LOOK AT ME AND TELL ME THAT I’M WRONG!? AM I WRONG?! SHE WORE A CROWN AND CAME DOWN IN A BUBBLE DOUG! GROW UP BRO! GROW UP!” While this is a lengthy caption, it conveys a sort of enthusiastic, loud emotion (something that generation z is quite fond of). The various images that go with it are then repurposed from their original contexts to now also be about Glinda the Good Witch of the East. As mentioned earlier, this copy-and-paste meme format is called “copypasta.” As opposed to memes with fill-in-the-blank variations, i.e. “I ain’t never seen two pretty best friends” to “I ain’t never seen two mentally stable best friends,” this “copypasta” meme is a set joke, recontextualized with different images.
While this meme has been around for a while, it still has a special place on the internet. Various reproductions of the meme depict the same argument with different people. The original video has over seven million views on YouTube and was featured on an episode of Tosh.0 in 2019. Additionally, a Tik Tok user by the name of catherinelashley06 has even used her word art design of this video to sell as prints on the site Redbubble. Since this video remains an internet sensation, mutations and variations will continue to increase even as social media becomes saturated with new memes.