While not nearly as many OMG WTH?! moments as last year, 2021 was full of its own strange, sometimes scary moments. All through this wild ride, YouTube, Insta, Tik Tok, and oh yes, Black Twitter kept us laughing and up to date on all the trends and missteps. But just in case you missed some
Here, BET.com recaps the best memes, viral vids, and ROFL moments across the digital landscape.
1. CARD B's PREGNANCY REVEAL AT THE 2021 BET AWARDS
2. GORILLA GLUE GIRL
One of the year’s most riveting real-life social media dramas came courtesy of Tessica Brown, who in February went viral after posting that she’d used Gorilla Glue spray to keep her hair slicked down. Though the situation was distressing and painful— her hair had been stuck like that for a month— the internet couldn’t help but turn her tragic situation into fodder for foolery, particularly the remix video that belongs in a hall of fame.
“When she posted that on TikTok, she got millions of views,” says LaToya Shambo, founder, and CEO of Black Girl Digital in New York, an agency that specializes in influencer marketing. “It’s what makes TikTok so great—they’ve mastered their algorithm on how things go viral. No one knew who she was, but that helped her gain visibility to get the help she needed. It was cool to see all the people praying for her, and the remixes took us through Q1. The internet has no chill.”
3. OPRAH'S PRINCE HARRY AND MEGHAN MARKLE INTERVIEW
Oprah's bombshell interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was full of clutch-the-pearls revelations, but it was Meghan's revelation that members of the royal family expressed "concerns" over their son Archie's skin tone that made even the usually unflappable give us expressions that got turned into memes sure to circulate for the rest of the decade.
Based on Popp Hunna’s “Adderall (Corvette Corvette),” this viral challenge had some 3.9 million TikTokers doing variations of the dance, which consisted of mimicking driving a car or making a dolphin move, and more.
This one was simple: users posted an image of themselves au natural, covering up the camera as "I'm So Pretty" by chunkymonkeeyy played, then revealing a face with a full beat. Alicia Keys, Ciara, Gabrielle Union, Kandi Burruss, and Kenya Moore were some of the celebs who jumped on the trend, reinforcing the notion that people can be pretty with and without makeup.
6. INSECURE FANS TAKE ON AMANDA SEALES FOR AKA GARB
Reacting to a look Amanda Seale's character Tiffany from Insecure wore that included AKA garb, fans went in on Twitter calling it disrespectful, inappropriate, and more. The whole thing escalated so much that the sorority's director talked about legal action. The show's star and creator Issa Rae responded to the criticism and joked that she was going to have HBO delete one of the upcoming episodes.
7. BERNIE SANDERS' MITTENS AT THE INAUGURATION
Bernie Sanders showed what the picture beside the word 'unbothered' should look like in the dictionary when he showed up to the 2021 inauguration wearing mittens made by Vermont teacher Jen Elli. Sanders' "When is this over?" energy became one of the first memes of 2021, with people putting Bernie practically everywhere.
8. "UNDERSTAND THE ASSIGNMENT"
She may not have coined the phrase indicating lavish praise. Still, rapper Tay Money's song "The Assignment" sure did help "understand the assignment" go from meme to bona fide idiomatic expression. "It's lent itself to the culture of conversation itself now," says Shambo. "It's now how we address someone when they've done something to perfection. [Previously] you'd say, 'You nailed it, 100 percent.' No, now it's 'You understood the assignment.'"
9. VIOLA vs. KIMBERLY ELISE CRYING BATTLE
This one was just one tweet, but Ari LaBeija’s provocative observation that “Kimberly Elise know she can cry. I want to see her and Viola [Davis] go at it,” set off a tsunami of responses from film buffs who wanted to see the two thespians in a cry-off. Her poll put Voila as the clear winner in the tears challenge, and she threw down the gauntlet for the pair to make it happen. Hey, it wouldn’t be the first tweet to get made into a movie!
10. THE WEEKND'S HALFTIME SHOW
Though he ditched the bandages and facial prosthetics he’d been sporting to make a commentary on celeb culture and superficiality, The Weeknd still kept the disorienting spirit alive with a hall-of-mirrors type segment during his Super Bowl performance that had him stumbling through a reflective maze.
Twitter users were quick to turn clips of it into a meme - and his “looking around” became a hilarious way for people to express the feeling of searching for something hard to find.
11. MY PLANS VS. THE DELTA VARIANT
One of the most popular memes of the year, “My Plans vs. the Delta variant,” emerged just as we realized the pandemic-free year we envisioned in 2020 was not gonna happen. Juxtaposing pics of a happy imagined ideal next to a dastardly usurper, users—many of them famous— borrowed from pop culture, politics, and notable moments in history to distract us from reality. “People were so creative,” says Shambo. “There were so many variations; people were very clever.”
Using Texas rapper Erica Banks’ song “Buss It,” this TikTok challenge had participants blend two videos: one in regular, low key clothes dancing along to a sample of Nelly’s “Hot In Herre” and then dropping down low twerking to Banks’ sexy song.
Tons of people took part, including celebs –– most notably Chloe Bailey. “What makes TikTok so beautiful is the transitions –– it’s the transition that’s gonna make it go viral,” says Shombo. “People were really creative; one of my favorites was a pregnant woman who did it. When she hit the floor, she’d had the baby.”
13. OMICRON AND OMARION
The Omicron variant popped up in December to let us know Covid is like that ex that refuses to be gone for good. Despite the severity of the situation, the variant’s resemblance to one boy band singer’s name was too much for Black Twitter to ignore. The Omicron was officially christened the Omarion variant. The memes were hilarious, and even Omarion himself was a good sport about it.
14. TABITHA BROWN GATHERS WENDY WILLIAMS
Gossip queen Wendy Williams is known for staying up in other people's business. Still, she might've bitten off more than she could chew when she offered commentary about the marriage of Tabitha Brown.
The social media mogul responded in a five-minute video full of loving, syrupy Southern shade, saying, "The pain you must be in," and the even more lethal, "I pray love finds you." It was a very sophisticated way to read someone.
15. MEGAN THEE STALLION "BODY CHALLENGE"
Before taking home, the award for Best New Artist at the 63rd Grammy Awards Megan Thee Stallion won the internet with the “Body Challenge” based on the choreo from her hit single “Body.”
Fans took to YouTube, TikTok, and Insta to slay the moves, some of them giving the rapper herself a run for her money with impressive spins on the routine.
16. RED FLAGS
This is thought to have started with Twitter user @Jordan773, who posted, ““Black women with all white friends?” with a number of actual red flag emoji. The meme spread like wildfire—a way for people to express cautious hesitation with people who do something suspect.
"It started on Twitter, then migrated to Instagram,” Shomba says. “Twitter posted on one that said, ‘I’m not on Twitter’ and the NFL did one, ‘I don’t watch football.’ You know when a platform participates in a trend, it’s a big deal.’”
SpotemGottem’s song “BeatBox” inspired this Tik Tok challenge, which entails arching your back and walking with a slight limp like a bug. It hasn’t been without controversy, though, as some took to doing it in increasingly creative and dangerous spaces, including...incoming traffic.
Still, it found favor with a number of famous Junebuggers, including LeBron James, Lil Baby, Meek Mill, and more.
18 MEET ME AT OUR SPOT
TikTok users took the indie rock track “Meet Me At Our Spot” by The Anxiety (Willow Smith and Tyler Cole) and turned it into a dance trend by acting out the lyrics in the song or putting a cartoon filter on their faces.
19. LIL NAS X's SNL WARDROBE MALFUNCTION
During his performance of "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” on Saturday Night Live, Lil Nas X took to the stripper pole on stage to do the damn thing and — skurrp!—ripped his leather pants. He handled it like the pro that he is. Still, Twitter was not about to let the moment pass without commentary.
20. BLACK TWITTER TURNS VISION FROM WANDAVISION INTO VISHAWN
Disney Plus’ WandaVision was one of the biggest streaming hits of the year —and a big hit with Black viewers too, as evidenced by fans reimagining of the show’s superhero hottie Vision into...ViShawn. It was sooo extra, and too funny.
21. BLACK TIK TO CREATORS STRIKE
Black creators keep the lights on at TikTok and drive a large chunk of the dances and challenges that become pop culture trends. But, as exemplified by Jimmy Fallon having TikToker Addison Rae on his show to do dance moves originated by Black artists, they don’t always get credit.
That’s why it was an impressive and important flex in summer when Black went on strike, drawing attention to the erasure. And it worked: Jaliaih, whose dance “Renegade” was one Rae performed on Fallon, not only got invited to his show after the snub but she got featured on Ellen and an NBA game too.