The North Star

Column: of yodelers and Ugandan Knuckles — the humor of Gen Z

There’s a popular meme making the rounds lately: a late aughts cat meme is juxtaposed with its 2018 counterpart, both images equally understated yet comical in their own ways.

The similarities end there. While the 2008 image, complete with ‘Impact’ typeface and an absurdly simple premise, has an easily discernible punchline (Why is a cat asking for human food? Why is cheeseburger spelled wrong? Cats!), the 2018 image takes a more subtle approach. A half-limbed cat strides elegantly along a sidewalk, its paws curled into the OK emoticons, in order to exemplify that you is, indeed, walking. There’s nothing explicitly, or even implicitly funny about the picture. It’s just funny.

The past few years have marked the rise of a particular brand of humor unique to our generation. It typically arrives in the form of obscure references, inexplicable images, and six second videos with cult-like followings.

It’s unclear how such humor should be classified. Dadaist? Minimalist? Surrealist? All seem to fit the bill, yet none quite capture the essence of ‘cracking open a cold one with the boys’ or ‘don’t talk to me or my son ever again.’ This wave of humor appears to be founded on a generation-wide understanding of seemingly nothing. It’s almost easier to categorize recent trends by the qualities they lack rather than what they have.

Due to the absence of actual content, relatability has reached its peak. This generation thrives off fast-paced, random humor, making a lack of meaning the only commonality. The inherent nonsensical nature means teens can yell ‘same’ at their water bottles and everyone understands. A statement is made not with the punchline but with the fact that there isn’t a punchline.

What exactly drives the seemingly absurdist humor of our newest generation? Might it be the economic collapse of the late aughts, pushing teens to appreciate grounded, simple humor? Is it the increased prevalence of topical social issues such as feminism, racism, and LGBTQ+ matters, driving Gen Z-ers to address these themes with humor? Are memes and Vines simply an attempt to mask our nation’s turbulent undercurrents, to make light of our bleak worldviews?

We may never know. For now, if the teacher isn’t here in here in 15 minutes, we’re legally allowed to leave.  

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Writers
Tanya Iyer, Editorials Editor
Tanya is a senior at Naperville North, and can barely wait to get started with a new year for The North Star! As Editorials Editor, Tanya is responsible for helping her fellow reporters transform their political, social, and cultural soapbox rants into eloquent masterpieces. In her free time, Tanya enjoys participating in spontaneous applause, giving...
Robyn Pease, Multimedia Producer
Robyn is a senior at Naperville North returning for her second year on The North Star and her first year as the Multimedia Producer. She is looking forward to building her own skills as well as working with the staff to produce photos and videos. When she’s not filming, she loves to play the ukulele...
Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Column: of yodelers and Ugandan Knuckles — the humor of Gen Z

    Editorials/Columns

    In-depth column: Feminism — more than just a word

  • Column: of yodelers and Ugandan Knuckles — the humor of Gen Z

    Editorials/Columns

    Editorial: Climate change demands teen action- now or never

  • Column: of yodelers and Ugandan Knuckles — the humor of Gen Z

    Blogs

    Liam’s Hit O’ Miss List: “Blockers”

  • Column: of yodelers and Ugandan Knuckles — the humor of Gen Z

    Editorials/Columns

    Column: Publishers haven’t made history with their textbooks

  • Column: of yodelers and Ugandan Knuckles — the humor of Gen Z

    Editorials/Columns

    Editorial: In Parkland’s wake, America’s youth must feel their own power

  • Column: of yodelers and Ugandan Knuckles — the humor of Gen Z

    Editorials/Columns

    Column: The real trouble with Lady Doritos

  • Column: of yodelers and Ugandan Knuckles — the humor of Gen Z

    Blogs

    Liam’s Hit O’ Miss List: The 90th Oscars

  • Column: of yodelers and Ugandan Knuckles — the humor of Gen Z

    Editorials/Columns

    Column: American patriotism is still important in divided times

  • Column: of yodelers and Ugandan Knuckles — the humor of Gen Z

    Editorials/Columns

    Liam’s Hit O’ Miss List: Man of the Woods (Justin Timberlake) Edition

  • Column: of yodelers and Ugandan Knuckles — the humor of Gen Z

    Editorials/Columns

    Editorial: NNHS must replace artificial light