Viral fame is hard to manufacture. Even if you think you've found the most baffling stock photo, or the perfect Spongebob screen-grab, there's no guarantee the internet will elevate it to meme-status. This hasn't stopped a new tool from attempting to crack the formula. As WIRED reports, This Meme Does Not Exist takes popular meme formats and generates new text to go along with them.
The combinations the meme maker churns out can be hilarious, but maybe not in the way the creators intended. The distracted boyfriend meme has been updated with the title dude labeled "Christmas presents" checking out a woman labeled "OMG." An excited Oprah now hands out pointers and a piece of paper, and Leonardo DiCaprio is toasting to "the Star Wars movie about the article 13 you seen the past the way." If you refresh it enough times, you'll eventually get a meme that's at least coherent, but most of them are random word jumbles.
The text is pulled from roughly 100 million captions that were fed into the meme generator's AI program. Users can choose from 48 classic meme templates, with each image having 20,000 captions that can potentially appear with it. That means there are 960,000 possible memes waiting to be viewed by anyone with hours of free time to waste online. If the tool does anything, it proves that making something the internet will love isn't as easy as it looks.
Though the meme cycle changes as quickly as everything does online, This Meme Does Not Exist mainly sticks to well-known formats that have been around for years. That means the captions are written in the Impact font that helped make memes iconic in the first place. Here's a brief history of how the old font found new life on the web.