photo from @jayrscottyy on twitter
This month, a meme known by many as “Two Pretty Best Friends” is the most recent meme to enter a status in which the joke of it is no longer the meme, but the presence of the meme.
While hard to explain, most meme creators and consumers know what this means when they see it. Other memes of this kind include Rick Rolling and Loss. Meaning while some still enjoy the meme itself, just the introduction of the meme is enough to elicit a reaction.
For some context, the “Two Pretty Best Friends” meme features TikTok user @jayrscottyy sitting in a car, alone. His voice is unique, lilting in a way that many find comforting and eerie.
“I ain’t never seen two pretty best friends. It’s always one of them gotta be ugly,” @jayrscottyy says.
From there it did what tiktok memes do, people have lipsynced it, have remixed other sounds with it, and recreateed it. The difference with “Two Pretty Best Friends” is that people started getting tired of it. And people noticed that other people were starting to get tired of it, so they started tricking people into watching it. It’s here that this meme entered a different state.
The act of presenting “Two Pretty Best Friends” itself has become a meme. 2020 election predictions or how to say “I love you” in a foreign language quickly turns to @jayrscotty’s voice. The meme has become an in-joke that takes little contextualizing, so much so that many start to grow cautious that any video they’re watching could devolve into “2 Pretty Best Friends.”
Take Rick Rolling, for example. Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” was a song of its own accord. Its intent wasn’t to become punishment for its consumer, and its original audience didn’t view it as such. It’s the way the internet used it later that morphed it into something else.
Many a link that had nothing to do with Rick Astley’s hit single would take you straight to the youtube video, especially if the page before it had nothing to do with “Never Gonna Give You Up,” like this reddit post asking for advice on pressure washing.
Loss is the same way. For those that don’t know, Loss refers to an iconic cartoon strip from the video game-themed webcomic series Ctrl+Alt+Del in which the main character suffers a miscarriage, a huge tonal shift for the webcomic that wasn’t received well. This was a decade ago, and at the time it sent the internet into a flurry.
To this day, the obfuscation or presenting of Loss pervades meme culture. It’s gone past the image of the original comic and to the lines that make up the characters in the Loss comic.
Some people take pride in their ability to see the Loss comic in any given image, while others see it as a curse. They wish they had never learned the story behind Loss because there will always be someone who thinks to turn a given scenario into loss.
Seeing “Two Pretty Best Friends” enter this territory so quickly is shocking to your average meme consumer. It says a great deal about the time we find ourselves in, where people are prone to escapism because of electoral stress and global pandemic, but it also says a lot about the TikTok medium.
Whether or not where “2 Pretty Best Friends” and these other memes have gone is a devolution as mentioned before or a natural progression of the meme is yet to be determined. To be honest, it’s deeply subjective, just like the consumption of memes across the medium.
All that is certain is that I have never seen two pretty best friends, always one of ‘em gotta be ugly.
Daniel Johanson (he/him) is a journalist and digital media specialist living in Chicago, Illinois. He serves as Editor-in-Chief at Scapi and in that capacity manages all things content, including writing and editing articles and producing digital content. His most recent work includes the docuseries Heart of a Nation: Tracking Socialism in the Midwest and co-hosting the podcast Scapi Radio. He spends his free time with cats.