[2010] Double Rainbow & the Codification of Meme Expiration Dates

Do you remember the Double Rainbow video?

Like, do you actually remember it? This isn’t a rhetorical question. It’s been almost one decade since that video graced the internet, a ridiculously silly and wholesome video that instantly became an internet sensation. And yet, does anyone in the entire world today make reference to the fact that it existed?

There’s a lot to love about the video. The absolutely giddy nature of the guy who took the video, brought to literal tears over something that most people honestly wouldn’t be all too moving for the vast majority of people, makes it hilarious, and in a way heartwarming too. (Also the likelihood that the guy is not sober makes it even more entertaining.)

Even today, Double Rainbow kinda makes me happy just because of how happy this guy is. And it made basically every person on the internet happy as well, judging by how much of a meme it became.

It instantly made the “meme rounds” of the time, being featured on Tosh:0, autotune remix channels, and all those other things that were popular back in 2010 and barely exist today. It was parodied in advertisements and local news filler slots and racked up tens of millions of views.

But then, something happened to the Double Rainbow craze.

It died.

By the time this Homestuck animation came out, the meme was so dead for so long that it wasn’t as much of a meme as it was a funny reference… but this only came out in August, just eight months later.

Even weirder is that once the meme died, it DIED. The video topped off at 45 million views, which isn’t paltry by any means, but compared to today when a single video by a popular Youtuber can reach that, it’s nothing. It’s like the meme died, and absolutely nobody in the world came back to see it again because it was officially cursed or something.

Eight months for the lifespan of a single meme is… not too short these days. But it’s also much, much shorter than the kinds of memes preceding it. Lolcats and “epic fail,” Trollface and Hotel Mario, All Your Base and Rick Astley… the memes of the 00s lasted for YEARS before fading out. And, unlike Double Rainbow, all of those memes are generally still remembered, still referenced.

Double Rainbow set the bar for the internet memes to follow, creating quick burn phenomenons that disappeared just as fast as they came. Nobody cares about Arthur’s fist or Here come dat boy or that one image of Kim Kardashian’s butt. Sometimes memes like Doge will come back in bizarre post-ironic zombie incarnations, but for the most part, they end up like Double Rainbow. A flash across the sky, something cool to look at, and something forgotten about fifteen days later.

I’d say it’s tragic, but the Double Rainbow guy is now using his last grasps of internet fame trying to sell CBD creams and scamming sick people, so actually I don’t particularly care that the meme is forgotten. And honestly, maybe that’s what killed the lifespan of the internet meme; once you connect a meme to a real-life person who will gain instant notoriety, that meme is forever tainted by the allure of greed and fame. The Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife guy became a ever-present social media figure for a while, and Grumpy Cat got whored out by media licensing companies for years. Memes became brands, and brands die when they are no longer profitable. Double Rainbow just happened to be a particularly ineffective brand.

Now if you’ll excuse me while I go back to looking at Nyan Cat. That’s still cool, right?

2 thoughts on “[2010] Double Rainbow & the Codification of Meme Expiration Dates”

  1. I am super not good at considering whether or not people are sober, and every time I remember that, I feel three years younger.

    Memes are a strange and grotesque thing. I’ve never seen Double Rainbow since like a five-second clip on “Tosh:0,” so I never realized until now the depths of his love for these rainbows. It makes me think about how you’ll never have a moment for more than a moment, or something like that. Or when the guy in that Twilight Zone episode finally has the time to read, but then his glasses break. You’re not gettin’ those back, and you won’t see this again.

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