AI “time traveling” is disrupting classic memes

Together with

The Future. Digital creators, mostly on TikTok, are using the free tier of a tool called Luma Dream Machine to remix old memes with generative AI. As the technology improves, expect the next era of memes to feature some complicated storytelling.

Meme back
Classic memes are getting a modern makeover.

  • The remixes can be a person coming alive from a still image to play out a still-image meme as a video, as in the case with “Distracted Boyfriend.”
  • Another popular edit is inserting a “time traveler” to stop a viral moment from happening, as with the haunting figure stopping the kid from answering incorrectly in “What’s nine plus 10?”
  • The AI generations are pretty wonky, but that technological limitation is part of the appeal — they create a body-horror effect that’s fun and hilarious.

Phillip Hamilton, editor of the popular meme database Know Your Meme, told Wired the charm of the trend is that the remixed videos are iconic and everyone knows their context. Additionally, building on memes is inherent to meme culture to begin with, so using new tech only expands the jokes capable within the art form (yes, we believe memes are art).

As far as the time travelers go, though… The internet truly can be a scary place.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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