Flash Blog: Waluigi and the Other Cult Internet Heroes
On the dark but not so hidden corners of the Internet lies a cult-like following, producing massive quantities of memes of Nintendo’s most notorious underdog, Waluigi.
Waluigi isn’t alone. Toad, LazyTowns’ Robbie Rotten, Barry B. Benson, Minecrafts’ Steve, Baby Yoda, Isabelle, SpongeBob SquarePants and even real life celebrities like Danny DeVito all have been meme sensations for years now. Facebook groups and pages are dedicated to celebrating them, sharing gaffs and fond memories of how these figures have helped people navigate the bumpiness of life, and sometimes just playing a variety of music over a loop of them doing a Fortnite dance.
It’s elevating the nature of fandoms to a new level. Let’s look at a few of my favourite case studies...
Starting with one of the most popular cult heroes: Waluigi. The purple-hatted lanky antagonist of Super Mario Bros spin-offs and partner of Wario (who has his own “meme vault” here) has his own 10 000+ strong fan base, people dedicated truly to creating (sometimes crude) art of him, tributes to him and even homemade video games where he (for once) is the star!
Of course, he’s most notorious for his “WAHHHHH”, which can be found in memes, covers of songs and a whole lot more across the Internet-sphere.
Musicians are and always will be heroes. More obscure and alternative heroes can attract generally more obscure and alternative people, which in turn brings some of the most obscure and alternative content.
“I wish I was in a bunker listening to Radiohead” are a prime example of a page who post topical and sometimes opinionated content about alternative artists like Radiohead, Joy Division, Mac DeMarco, King Krule and Interpol. Giving interesting perspectives on the communities who listen to these artists and on the cultural impact of said artists.
It’s not the only page or group dedicated to transforming what it means to be a fan of certain artists. All over the musical spectrum from pop to rock and back to country, there are people dedicated to creating unique and fascinating memes.
Now a deceased page, “I put various sounds over Caesar’s death everyday” did exactly what it said on the tin: it uploaded the same clip of Caesar from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure’s death with different sounds from pop culture overlaid.
Whilst I had never watched the anime, I had been captivated by the page when I came across it because the lack of knowledge I had about the reference just made it ridiculously outlandish: the scream of “CAESARRRRRR” overlapping the gothic morbid music, which was then juxtaposed with whatever stupid sound effect they added on top was golden comedy.
This type of page, putting different sound clips over the same video loop of some animation, is common and personally they are my favourite.
What makes these figures so loveable in the first place?
I’ve decided on three main characteristics that are mostly likely the reason for the stardom of these characters, celebrities and miscellaneous entities:
Bringing things back to childhood. Particularly in video games, our own childhood heroes like Kirby, Sonic and the recurring stars from Animal Crossing, can put us in a happy space. With the turbulent state of the world over the past few years this escapism allows us to bond over our shared cute heroes whilst using them for humour and activism.
Underdog complex. It’s why Isabelle and Walugi have been so popular, and why even memes about Radiohead boom; it’s the aspect of appreciating the underdogs of a particular medium or series, appreciating their goofiness, their mischief and their intricacies. Exposing them to others in a way that's accessible to everyone brings us all together.
Ability to use in more adult contexts. The fans of SpongeBob SquarePants, Nintendo’s early work, LazyTown and mid-2000s indie pop bands are grown up now. This means they may be active in politics, they may have for the first time really start to face issues with their mental health and of course they may be sexually active which will change the content they produce. Lewd and especially political memes featuring their idols are becoming a more and more popular way of expressing their views and sense of humour.
This hopefully should have given you some insight into the magic of Waluigi and the rest of the cult heroes of the Internet.
"WAHHHHHHH!" - is Waluigi for "Thank you for reading!"