It’s been more than seven years since “sad” Ben Affleck first went viral, a meme the Oscar-winning movie star knows very well – but images of Jennifer Lopez’s husband looking “miserable” or exhausted continue to explode on the internet. A typical example? A paparazzi picture of Affleck earlier this week.fed up with life” exploded on X, formerly known as Twitter. As it turns out, it is actually this particular photo nine years old, but it didn’t stop more than 21 million people from watching it.
Why are Affleck pictures like this spreading online? According to pop culture experts, it’s because these sentiments Affleck seems to convey, even though they may not be true, are fair The relatable.
“The ‘sad Affleck’ memes have a few different registers that contribute to their shareability.” Claire Sisco KingAssociate Professor of Communication Studies and Chair of Cinema and Media Arts at Vanderbilt University, explains Yahoo Entertainment.
“In some cases there is a bit of schadenfreude, where the audience seems to take pleasure in the obvious hardships of someone who might otherwise be imagined as privileged and powerful,” King continues, noting that people who don’t have access to A -List level “Wealth and Luxury” sometimes want to “shoot people who do that.” But she warns: “I don’t think all memes or their shareability indicate a sadistic attitude.” “Sad Affleck” has also become a point of identification for many people who feel overwhelmed, exhausted or even discouraged. “
“Sad Affleck“ first appeared in 2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Press tour. Later that year, he was caught by paparazzi smoking a cigarette while exhausted. Every time he carries Dunkin’ Donuts, these pictures go viral. Then there was his trip to the Grammys earlier this year with Lopez, where every gesture was analyzed and the internet agreed he had a terrible time, despite both stars saying otherwise.
Sulafa Zidaniassociate professor of media studies at Northwestern University, believes there are several “essential components” of Affleck that make him the perfect meme – and they aren’t necessarily bad components.
“He looks overworked and tired, like someone who has a lot to worry about or has simply had enough. We’re not used to celebrities conveying that kind of feeling, and that makes his images seem authentic, a quality that the internet really values,” she tells Yahoo Entertainment. The seemingly “overloaded” Affleck is “complemented by his typical New Englander obsession with Dunkin’ Donuts, which internet users find hilarious. When you compare that to the fact that he is a celebrity, a category of people we expect to be luckier and performative, his paparazzi pictures just seem even funnier and more memorable.”
As for why a 2014 photo of Affleck went viral this week, Zidani notes that although this usually happens on Tumblr, it’s common for memes to come back to life years later. Regarding this particular photo, she notes that “the image builds on a pattern of memes and images of Ben Affleck in which he looks, as the Twitter user described him, ‘sick for life,’ and knowledge of existing Ben Affleck memes certainly helps.” This newly surfaced specimen is thriving.
Essentially every photo of Affleck is picked apart, regardless of whether it is him talking to ex-wife Jennifer Garner or analyzing his body language with Lopez. It seems like a star of Affleck’s caliber expects to be photographed at any time. How can this continue? Well, he’s human.
“I think most celebrities are aware of the presence of paparazzi, but this presence has become so pervasive for so many famous people that it becomes almost impossible to remain ‘on guard’ at all times,” explains King, noting that These “moments that…” “are frozen in time” are “often just fleeting gestures” that “can be taken out of context.”
“What might seem like a moment of despair or despair could actually be something as banal as a yawn. “Images that become topical or ‘remembered’ in the tabloid are re-contextualized with captions and in conjunction with other images so that we are not necessarily able to absorb them. They are meant to be indexical representations of what actually happened in front of the camera,” adds King.
Nevertheless, Affleck seems to be an easier target than, for example, other stars who are “memorized”. Take Pedro Pascal and Christopher Meloni, referred to online as “Daddy” and “Zaddy,” respectively.
“This is very different from the kind of attention that Ben Affleck gets, who seems to be grabbing the internet’s attention not because of his good looks, but rather because of those moments where he seems genuinely depressed,” explains Zidani. “Because for most of us ‘sad’ is more relatable than ‘handsome,’ images of Ben Affleck looking sad are ultimately more inviting for people to use as a meme describing their own reaction to a situation.”
King also believes Affleck’s personal life, including his high-profile relationships and his openness about his alcohol addiction, makes him “vulnerable to more melodramatic narratives about his personal life and well-being,” whether that’s fair or not.
Affleck has acknowledged the memes before, saying in an interview last year that while he found the original “sad Affleck” meme “funny,” he was worried about what his three children thought. (“Then my kids see it and I think, ‘Oh, are they going to think that their dad is basically sad, or do they have to worry about me?’ That’s really hard.”) Zidani calls this “one of the problematic ones Things.” Behaviors of Meme Culture” as there is “usually no consent in the meme creation process.”
“Maybe we’re just making an already overworked Ben Affleck more worried by making memes out of his pictures,” she says.
However, Affleck does engage in some of the viral jokes. He played in one of the hottest Super Bowl commercial, for Dunkin’ Donuts, of course, and did another commercial for them alongside Ice Spice, which debuted in September. “He clearly knows how to fit in [these] “Infusing elements of his personal life into his star persona,” explains King.
“But the moments in which he is caught appearing sad or frustrated may not be what they portray, and it is possible that they are actually demonstrations of typical human emotions that affect him in moments of intense observation or overwhelmed under pressure.” What person hasn’t been surprised at times?” She continues. “If Affleck is aware that he is being photographed or ‘caught’ at an inopportune moment, part of the image memory seems to come from their apparent authenticity or candor. “The feeling that audiences can see who the stars ‘really’ are – however they imagine themselves or…” This identity may have been invented – has long been part of the appeal of celebrity culture, even if the audience knows better…because it knows that celebrities are performers with publicists whose only job is image management.”
There could also be an opportunity to take back control of the meme narrative.
“I think the sentiment expressed in Ben Affleck’s memes is so relatable these days that it will definitely continue to circulate on the internet,” explains Zidani. “It may seem that meme makers are more interested in making jokes about him when he’s not in on the joke, but I think memes often come from fans excited about the opportunity to have one “To build a relationship with a celebrity they love.” If Ben Affleck is reading this, I want to tell him that working with the meme makers may be more beneficial than he expects.”