Top 10 Things that Broke the Internet in 2016
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Top 10 Things that Broke the Internet in 2016

Script written by Oscar Pearson

Top 10 Things that Broke the Internet in 2016
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Everywhere you looked this year, these memes and viral videos were in your face. We're talking about Sad Affleck, Damn Daniel, The Water Bottle Flip, Bernie or Hillary, Ken Bone, Harambe, Prankster Joe Biden, The Mannequin Challenge, Crying Michael Jackson and Birdman Confronting “The Breakfast Club”. These are the things that broke the Internet in 2016!

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Top 10 Things that Broke the Internet in 2016

Calling 2016 an interesting year would definitely be an understatement. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things that Broke the Internet in 2016.

For this list, we’ve selected the viral sensations that best define the year. From dance crazes, to hilarious memes, to an election that was nothing short of a spectacle, it was quite the ride. With that in mind, we picked a variety of moments based on their popularity, staying power, and cultural prominence.

#10: Sad Affleck

Although Ben Affleck’s portrayal of the Dark Knight in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was widely acclaimed, the rest of the film did not receive the same critical praise. To put it bluntly, the movie was panned, with many saying its overly dark tone and excessive use of special effects were low points. When the film’s poor reception came up during a 2016 interview for Yahoo! UK, Affleck’s demeanor made it seem as though he were still in character. The footage of the actor’s visibly dejected expression quickly swept the internet, inspiring several remixes and parodies. One notable rendition, set to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence,” reached a million views on YouTube in less than two days.

#9: Birdman Confronts “The Breakfast Club”

In April 2016, rapper and producer Birdman appeared on the popular hip-hop radio show, The Breakfast Club. However, the interview went downhill fast: Birdman was furious over criticism he’d received in the past from the show’s hosts and guests like Rick Ross and Trick Daddy about Cash Money Records stiffing their artists. The man also known as Baby had a score to settle with host Charlamagne tha God when he visited the show, setting up a confrontation that was as awkward as it was heated. Charlamagne remained surprisingly calm, while Birdman continued to blurt out threats that instantly became internet catchphrases. Although Baby ended up apologizing for his actions, the message was already clear: put some respek on his name.

#8: Crying Michael Jordan

Taken from the NBA Hall of Fame induction speech he gave way back in 2009, this still frame of His Airness crying quickly became the universal image for “taking an L.” The meme blew up in 2016, becoming popular with sports fanatics as new versions instantly appeared online each time a team suffered a crushing defeat. But it eventually spread beyond the world of athletics: powerball losers, Andrew Jackson getting replaced on the $20 bill, and even the 2016 U.S. Election all got the Crying Jordan treatment. Of course, the meme’s popularity has added to Jordan’s fame, something President Barack Obama was sure to point out when awarding MJ the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2016.

#7: Prankster Joe Biden

Humor can lighten up even the most tense of times. The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election was one of the most controversial races in recent history, and Donald Trump’s victory ultimately left many confused, stunned, and emotional. However, the fairy godmother known as the internet saved the day with memes featuring the outgoing President/VP pairing and BFFs, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The dialogue typically consisted of Biden plotting several petty pranks against the Trump administration, with Obama trying to keep him in check. The images were a playful way to communicate the resentment some felt towards the new regime, and served as a humorous sendoff to the beloved tandem.

#6: The Mannequin Challenge

This one’s a real crowd-pleaser. While not the first viral “challenge” to sweep the internet, the Mannequin Challenge erupted in popularity due to the precision and creativity needed to successfully pull it off. The videos feature several participants frozen in mid-action, with Rae Sremmurd’s song “Black Beatles” typically serving as background music. With a premise so open to interpretation, hundreds of increasingly complex videos poured onto the web. Everyone from middle school students to professional athletes took a crack at making their own renditions, putting their own spin on it by taking full control over what motions they capture. The sheer amount of possibilities this challenge presents made us all forget that planking was ever a thing.

#5: Bernie or Hillary?

Originally posted on Reddit and Tumblr, but made popular by Facebook groups like “Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash,” this series of fake campaign posters perfectly represents the overwhelming social media support Sanders received during the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries. The memes compared the candidates’ opinions on various issues, ranging from anime to Sriracha sauce. The joke’s punchline was how well-developed, relevant, and hip Sanders’ responses were when compared to Hillary Clinton’s more surface-level opinions. The goal of the craze was to make Bernie appear more knowledgeable and relatable than his opponent, who many saw as a corporate puppet. In the end, while Sanders eventually lost the Democratic domination, he still captured the hearts and admiration of the internet.

#4: The Water Bottle Flip

Talk about a snowball effect. The craze that swept the entire world can be traced back to a talent show at Ardrey Kell High School in North Carolina. A video of a student pulling off a perfect bottle flip after a lengthy buildup became an overnight viral sensation. The performance inspired many copycat videos, which usually incorporated various locations, obstacles, and music. Even the makers of the popular Dude Perfect YouTube channel caught wind, creating their own video of ridiculous flips. Eventually, parodies surfaced that mocked the increasingly complex stunts. Usually titled “Haters Gonna Say It’s Fake,” these response videos used crude editing to make physically impossible attempts look perfectly executed. Who knew fluid physics could be this much fun?

#3: Damn Daniel

Whether it’s the speaker’s enthusiasm, the white shoes, or the phrase itself, this 30-second clip of a high school student constantly complimenting his stylish friend had the world laughing in 2016. The video originated at Riverside Poly High in California, with Josh Holz gushing over Daniel Lara’s fashion choices – especially his white Vans sneakers. Eventually, this post spread into everyday life: people started saying “Damn, Daniel” while imitating Holz’s eccentric delivery as a way to either compliment or mock their friends. The video’s 45 million views launched the boys to stardom, even landing them an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Fake replicas of the famous white Vans also popped up on eBay, with bids reportedly reaching $300,000. Damn, Daniel.

#2: Ken Bone

One man. One sweater. One internet phenom. During the second Presidential debate of the 2016 U.S. Election, undecided Midwestern voter Kenneth Bone posed a question about energy policy. His gentle demeanor and disarming appearance, made possible by the famous red sweater, instantly made Ken Bone a national hero. Perhaps his fame was due to the sense of innocence he brought to an intensely divisive campaign. Of course, his other quirks – like the fact that he used a disposable camera after the debate and had a suggestive last name – only added to the ironic social media typhoon created in his honor. Either way, briefly, Democrats and Republicans came together for some comic relief. Not all heroes wear capes; some wear red sweaters.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

- Mr. Krabs Memes
- “Lemonade”
- Smiling Usain Bolt

#1: Harambe

The situation started at the Cincinnati Zoo on May 28th, 2016: a gorilla named Harambe was shot and killed by a zoo employee for taking hold of a 3-year-old boy who’d fallen into his enclosure. Social media posts mourning Harambe and criticizing the boy’s parents immediately swept the internet. However, images and videos lampooning the public outrage surfaced soon afterwards. These memes overly romanticized the ape, as a way to mock the situation’s absurdity. The satirical jokes eventually extended beyond the web, with clothing and other merchandise featuring the ape becoming popular. The saga’s constant evolution over several months made sure Harambe became synonymous with 2016, which is why we’re picking it as our #1 web moment of the year.

Do you agree with our list? Which moment of 2016 do you think broke the internet? For more year-defining lists published every day, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.