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Afternoon Delight: PBS Explains the NYAN Cat for You
by Jerome Weeks 8 Sep 2011

The scary hamster, all those people ‘planking’ and the annoying NYAN cat: PBS Arts presents a helpful intro to the web meme.


Afternoon Delight is a daily diversion for when you’re just back from lunch, but not quite ready to get back to work. Check back tomorrow at 1 p.m. for another one.

Annoyed by some repeated image, video clip or sound bite cropping up in every blasted website you visit (the scary hamster, people planking)? You may have wondered: What does it mean, where did it come from and why does my adolescent kid find it so absolutely hilarious? Or to quote Grandpa Simpson: “I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s it seems weird and scary to me. And It’ll happen to you.”

Well, in the great tradition of PBS earnestly over-explaining our world so it won’t seem remotely scary, the PBS Arts Off Book series has produced this little instructional defense of web memes, animated GIFs, re-mixes and mashups like the NYAN cat.

  • richard schumacher

    “scary hamster”? No, no: the classic original is “Dramatic Chipmunk”:

    It’s actually a prairie dog, of course, but this is the Interwebs…

  • Jerome Weeks

    Of course it is. That meme is so old (maybe a whole year?) I forgot what it was originally named!