How Crying Jordan became the most divisive image on the Internet
I love Crying Jordan. I am an unapologetic Jordanist.
There’s something about a tasteful, well-executed Photoshop of Jordan’s gin-swollen, twice-baked potato face that reaches me on a deep, visceral level.
This, of course, makes me pro-Jordan, a.k.a. part of the problem, a.k.a. one side of an increasingly divisive Internet war that came to a head Monday night after the NCAA championship game.
The outpouring of Crying Jordan memes after UNC’s loss to Villanova was unlike anything witnessed, and it spawned an equally fervent response from the other side of the coin: the anti-Jordanites.
It's time to retire the overused crying Jordan meme. It is over. We are done. Goodbye. https://t.co/GG7OKy2ZHF
— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) April 5, 2016
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) April 5, 2016
I want #UNC to win solely because sports Twitter doesn't need another excuse to utilize the crying MJ meme.
— Karisa Maxwell (@KarisaMaxwell) April 5, 2016
With the 100 Years’ Hot dog-Sandwich War currently in a fragile cease-fire, the clash between Jordanists and anti-Jordan sympathizers has become the most intractable conflict currently marring the Lunchbreak Internet landscape.
And to understand how we’ve reached this point — how we’ve become caught in this crossfire of apathy and tobacco tears — we have to go back to the beginning. We have to look at the Crying MJ canon, starting with its inception:
I. Crying M-Jenesis
Fittingly enough, the roots of Jordan’s immortal tears are entrenched in the NBA Hall of Fame itself.
During his induction into the Hall in September, 2009, Jordan gave a 23-minute enshrinement speech, wherein Associated Press photographer Stephan Savoia snapped the image that would give birth to the meme.
After a few painstaking, definitely-productive watches, it appears the face occurs at the 1:45 mark, shortly after Jordan mentions teammate Scottie Pippen.
And just like that, the raw materials for a generation of GIFsmen and women were released into the galaxy.
II. Humble Beginnings
The original iteration: a "the Charlotte Bobcats are trash" joke.
And so the seed was planted.
III. Taking Root
Crying MJ took official root as a multipurpose meme in 2014.
A user who went by "At30wecashout" began pumping Photoshops onto forums at the sports and culture website The Coli.
Around this time is when I saw my first MJ meme. It was the original image macro of Jordan and his beached jellyfish head, accompanied by the immortal words "Booty had me like."
I laughed, because sometimes the booty truly does have you like that. And then I moved on, ignorant to the magnitude of the sleeping giant that had stirred.
IV. Dawn of Tears
In May, 2015, former Deadspinner Sean Newell posted a VICE Sports article titled "Stunning Photos of Michael Jordan, ruined by Crying MJ Face" (since retweeted by VICE):
The shops were good, and the post stands as one of pop culture’s first public acknowledgements that the image of Jordan and his tear-peppered wombat muzzle are amusing — or at the very least compelling.
— VICE Sports (@VICESports) February 17, 2016
Which, of course, paved the road for…
V. Summer of Jordan
Ah, the halcyon days of yore.
Summmer 2015 had it all: a Crayola depiction of Tom Brady, a bonkers NBA trade deadline, Manziel Mania 2.0 and a bourgeoning political nightmare germinating in America. And in all of this rich soil, the first crop of widespread Crying Jordan grew:
This span also included my first MJ, which wasn’t very good but imbued with an undying love for Maureese Speights and his dedication to being the finest funcle (read: fun uncle) in the NBA.
Both are actually in court so why not. pic.twitter.com/RyYFmsqDoX
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD_) August 12, 2015
What the Knicks' logo should be for the rest of eternity… pic.twitter.com/M3EXunvqSt
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) June 26, 2015
Really looking forward to this debate, tbh. The choice is clear pic.twitter.com/ViihseU6bR
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) August 5, 2015
And from here the rain of MJs snowballed into…
— Dan Carson (@TheDoctorCarson) June 17, 2015
VI. The Deluge
Fall/winter 2015 into early 2016 marked the wholesale McDonald-ization of Crying MJ.
Huffington Post made a cut-out MJ Halloween mask. Complex explained in clinical detail how to best deploy the meme. We, the Internet at large, got in on the act:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The meme was everywhere, apexing with the Arizona Cardinals Jordan-ing themselves during the NFC championship game.
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) October 17, 2015
The internet's go-to NBA meme is now a pancake. Crying Jordan has never been tastier: https://t.co/4XrQUhqwNZ
— ESPN (@espn) November 13, 2015
— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 24, 2015
This seems like a logical high water mark—a place where the MJ wave would break and fall back. Nope.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 25, 2016
VII. Tears of the Son(s)
The inflection point of any addiction (and Crying Jordan is a national addiction) is acceptance.
And Jordan’s adult children, Marcus and Jeffrey Jordan, acknowledging the meme in January and accepting its place in theirs and their father’s life should’ve been a sensible turning point.
We should’ve gotten help after this. We should’ve asked for an adult. But we were insatiable. We pushed the limits. Now we’re on the verge of—
I see the crying meme of my Dad is here to stay for2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣6️⃣🙈
— Marcus Jordan (@HEIRMJ) January 24, 2016
— Jeffrey M. Jordan (@HeirJordan13) January 24, 2016
VIII. Jordpocalypse Now: Sum of All Tears
This is where we are currently: the end days, or near enough if makes no difference.
The battleground was set after the NCAA championship. Jordan got Jordan’d, UNC lost and the world’s servers drowned as the musk-water of a million Crying Jordans flooded timelines across the Earth.
Now the Anti-Jordan are Jordan’d. Former Jordan-ers are getting out the game. Everyone is stealing everyone’s content. The lifecycle of the Internet at large plays out in the microcosm of Michael’s wounded bloodhound eyes.
when u see it pic.twitter.com/fpldGH8BAI
— still (@illroots) April 5, 2016
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) April 5, 2016
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) April 5, 2016
Crying Jordan Through the Years, Vol. 7 pic.twitter.com/nMaVCPiKpU
— Steve McPherson (@steventurous) April 5, 2016
— Wolf of Waiver St. (@WolfOfWaiverSt) April 5, 2016
And so the battle rages, unending.
No one is safe from MJ. Logging onto social is walking into a wet, bread-bowl-headed war zone.
I’m not sure when the meme will die, but I know its end will be a long, protracted and bloody affair.
Maybe it will stop when we’re faced with annihilation — an extinction event that guarantees none of us will live to see the dawn.
RT this inner tube for all of the timelines drowning in crying Jordan memes pic.twitter.com/vCbVjS7L6x
— Joel (@NobodyEpic) April 5, 2016
But probably not.
This is an unwinnable fight, guys. You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself Crying Jordan’d.
That’s just life.
Dan is on Twitter. "Our Jordans [gasp] WILL BLOCK OUT THE SUN!" "…then we will meme in the shade."