The origins of the ‘I am going to’ Sue Sylvester meme, explained

The origins of the ‘I am going to’ Sue Sylvester meme, explained

In this year where nothing has gone according to plan, there has been one reliable constant: memes.

If we were to crown one meme that has ruled 2020, the winner has to be the Sue Sylvester meme.

But what exactly is the Sue Sylvester meme?

The meme itself is a screenshot of Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester in Glee as she says that she’s “going to create an environment that is so toxic”. The scene comes from the seventh episode of the show’s first season in which Sue vows to destroy the school glee club by sowing divisions in the team, hence the “toxic environment”.

It’s not a particularly memorable moment in a show that’s littered with some of the most outrageous plot lines to have graced television, but it probably speaks to the very toxic environment we’re living in now in a way that has surprisingly resonated with social media users stuck at home and stuck online.

How did it become popular?

According to Know Your Meme, the meme began circulating in its original form in July with one user’s very meta take on the quote.

Afterwards, it quickly gained traction as users used the screenshot to describe a multitude of bad environments.

It then grew into an entirely different beast as different variations on the format emerged, with users tweaking the quote to fit their own jokes.

Strangely, the format has longevity no one could anticipate, inspiring memes still to this day. Considering that a life cycle of a meme tends to be pretty short, a meme remaining popular for almost half a year is unheard of.

As the meme started taking off in popularity once again this month, it also inspired some backlash. Some are just tired of seeing a dozen iterations of the same format every day.

And as writer and self-proclaimed “lover of memes” Stan Cross argued, changing almost all of the words in the original screenshot does not make it a meme.

To be fair, there are certain (hilarious) posts out there that lose almost all of the original context.

But as one user pointed out, these deconstructionist memes resemble the Gossip Girl meme from earlier this year, a trend that went so abstract it’s impossible to explain.

Memes are an unpredictable phenomena that can’t really be explained, but the fact that the meme can be edited to adapt to any joke and situation is probably why it has lasted for so long. Plus, people just think it’s funny. Isn’t that all you need from a meme anyway?

With a meme that gives people some semblance of joy, maybe the environment isn’t so toxic after all.

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