Here’s the big question of the day as we prepare for Memorial Day weekend: Is Rickrolling dead?
The answer is yes and no. Why am I giving two answers to the question? The world-famous trolling meme featuring 1980s crooner Rick Astley singing “Never Gonna Give You Up” mysteriously disappeared from YouTube earlier this week from YouTube due to a copyright complaint from AVG Technologies—a firm specializing in antivirus software.
Of course, fans of the meme went up in arms and just as quickly as it disappeared, it reappeared but questions still remain about why AVG made the complaint. After all, it is one of the most enduring memes in history, utilizing this bait and switch technique by using an obscure hit song from 1987 complete with awful synth sounds, trenchcoats and yes, Rick’s famous red hair. If you’ve forgotten how rickrolling works, all you have to do is send someone a link to what they think is something different, but it’s actually the “Never Gonna Give You Up” video. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been rickrolled and how many times I’ve rickrolled others.
On the social news website Reddit, a user by the name of Cotter548 claimed to be the inventor of the most beloved (and most reviled) memes out there. He said he started the meme back in 2007 in South Korea. The rickroll came from a similar meme called “duckrolling” where someone would get an unsuspecting user to click on a link that was merely a picture of a duck on wheels.
“I decided to show people the new trailer that Rockstar had put out for the next year release of GTA [Grand Theft Auto],” he recounts in his Reddit post. “Of course, nobody suspected that there was no trailer video, when the video started, the user would instead be listening to the soothing sound of Rick Astley, and the video caption said ‘You just got Rickroll’d.’”
Since then, rickrolling became a global phenomenon with 61 million views. It has been used in, among other things, protests, video games, television commercials and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades.
This isn’t the first time YouTube has threatened Rickrolling into extinction. In 2010, YouTube took the original video down due to the same copyright issue but like what happened this week, reappeared again.
It’s safe to say that this meme is never going to give and won’t let us down for a while.