At a Shrek rave in New York, a meme comes to life


If Mark Zuckerberg is fighting to move the offline world online to the metaverseKa5sh is one of many forces struggling to do the exact opposite: bring a meme to life.

“Shrek, along with SpongeBob, are huge pillars of the meme community,” Ka5sh Mashable said. “It felt like the next logical step for me as a meme creator was to create a world where you can experience the meme in real life.”

Get out of my swamp!
Credit: Samuel Harris

As Meta sinks its utilitarian claws into the last vestiges of its cool factor, people who attended the Shrek rave on a Friday night in New York’s East Village are rejoicing that “cool is dead.” Ka5sh, who organized the rave, says he’s trying to “destroy” the idea of ​​coolness, which seems like a hard thing to do when your event sells out at half a dozen locations across the country.

“There’s no point in trying to impress people and trying to maintain that facade of perfection, because it’s not, and it just destroys your brain,” he said. declared. At the Shrek rave, “no one is trying to impress themselves”.

The first people lining up outside Webster Hall arrived around 10 p.m., an hour before the doors opened and an hour and a half before the rave was scheduled to start.

Shrek Raver sitting outside in costume

Not the eraser pimples
Credit: Samuel Harris

Shrek Rave Sold Out Marquee

Credit: Samuel Harris

“If you say ‘cool is dead,’ then you’re opening yourself up to freedom in that moment,” Rodolfo, who was on the front line and chose to give only his first name, told Mashable. He wore a Shrek shirt and Shrek ears, with four friends, two of whom were in donkey gear from head to toe. “Speaking out, not following the mainstream, not following any kind of trend or anything.”

Once the group of five entered the room, they went to the ballroom and danced to the music of the Shrek soundtrack – an album that peaked at no. 28 on the Billboard 200 in 2001, with songs like “I’m a Believer” performed by Smash Mouth and “I’m on My Way” by The Proclaimers. A testament to its mainstream appeal at the time, the project was nominated for a Grammy Award. The film itself won Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.

Group of Ravers dancing

Oscar worthy
Credit: Samuel Harris

Inside Webster Hall, DJs put their own spin on familiar hits. There is a scene in the first Shrek film in which Lord Farquaad, a man who has many failures including his short stature, encourages his knights to rescue Princess Fiona from the highest tower of a castle surrounded by lava and guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. It’s a key element of the film, when he says “some of you may die but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make”, a line that has become a full-fledged meme.

At Shrek rave, that signature line blares over the speakers as the first rave beat drops. Everyone – dressed as characters from the movie like Lord Farquaad, the Three Blind Mice, Shrek, Pinocchio, the Dragon and the Fairy Godmother – dips their hips to the floor, lifting their drinks in the air and cheering. Later in the rave, HelloGoodbye — the artist behind “Here (in your arms)– takes a turn at the DJ’s table. A drag queen dressed as a fairy godmother leads the crowd in a chant of “fuck bitches, get money” before lowering her dress and showing her breasts.

The fairy godmother from the film Shrek on stage

I need a hero.
Credit: Samuel Harris

Crowd at shrek rave in costume

We went lower.
Credit: Samuel Harris

shrek rave crowd in costume and dancing

Where is Waldo
Credit: Samuel Harris

Two Shrek ravers kissing

True love
Credit: Samuel Harris

The same kind of wild, sometimes confusing, uninhibited joy you see at the Shrek rave is reflected on the subreddits and Instagram accounts dedicated to the film. Rave has been described to me more than once as “a meme coming to life”. But it really looks like a shit became a sentient aura and spilled over a crowded dance floor.

Rave isn’t alone in trying to bring Shrek fans together in real life. Every year, since 2014, ShrekFest hits Milwaukee, a free event for all ages with live music, games, a costume contest, a roar, an onion-eating contest and a screening of the movie that inspired it all.

It may seem strange that Shrek has maintained its cultural relevance two decades after its release and has found its place as a mainstay of meme pages despite being released long before memes existed. But ShrekThe relevance of transcends the Internet.

person in donkey mask

Credit: Samuel Harris

The film is one of the only animated films to be held by the Library of Congress. It came out at a precarious time in American history, poised to be a hit and an irrevocable part of our cultural consciousness. The resurgence of Disney’s animation department with films like The little Mermaid and Aladdin inspired a wave of tired kids movies that relied on boring tropes of princesses in need of something more. As Collider reported, moviegoers were ready for a film that was its opposite: Shrek. It’s a movie about an ogre that nobody likes and wants to stay home, which is a stark contrast to a beautiful princess looking for adventure.

person in flexing donkey hat

strong shrek
Credit: Samuel Harris

person in shrek ears and tie dye shirt

green shrek
Credit: Samuel Harris

Politically, the film was released on April 22, 2001, just five months before the September 11 terrorist attacks reshaped American life and less than a year after George W. Bush narrowly won the presidency via a court case. Supreme Court. Many people might consider Shrek as a marxist movie or one libertarian movie or simply anti-authoritarian. But at the end, Shrek was the escape; and it represented the last unfiltered bits of millennial childhood remembered before the war became a mainstay of American debate. Shrek was posted before Myspace and YouTube and Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and COVID-19, all of which threatened to take away even more youthful joy. No wonder we lean on Shrek once again, and the next generation is now embrace his fantasy.

person in a rave crowd wearing a shrek hat

black and white shrek
Credit: Samuel Harris

person in dance costume

fairy tale creatures
Credit: Samuel Harris

“It’s something from your childhood when things were really good, still really funny, still holds up to this day and it’s one of the last media that we all really loved,” Ka5sh said.

Ka5sh alludes to something important: the whole concept of media has changed dramatically since 2001, and with it, many young people’s access to innocence. the year Shrek was published, Wikipedia was launched for the first time, and Mark Zuckerberg had yet to graduate from high school. The full reach of social media was instant messaging on AIM and a few blogs. We’ve seen how the upsurge of new platforms affects young users: leaks from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, known as Facebook Papersshowed that “Instagram harms a significant percentage of [teens]especially teenage girls. CDC noted the rate suicide among people aged 10 to 24 increased by 56% between 2007 and 2017, making suicide the second leading cause of death among young people, after accidents. Some experts attribute part of the rise to social media. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly twice as many teenagers reported using the internet “almost constantly” in 2018 than in 2014.

person in the crowd

It’s exhausting
Credit: Samuel Harris

And now it looks like we’re going even further in the online world. Earlier this year, Facebook became Meta, heralding a new era of interconnectivity. Zuckerberg says he intends to create a maximalist set of experiences that are all connected online in a world called the Metaverse. The the metaverse doesn’t make sense yet, but there’s a paradoxical dissonance to see how tech companies drag people deeper into the depths of online life while meme account moderators fight to retain their childhood through IRL experiences. And the Shrek rave was awesome, but even its attendees couldn’t resist post on instagram on this subject.

waffle boxes on the stage floor

And in the morning…
Credit: Samuel Harris

Shrek necklace placed on the chest

Credit: Samuel Harris

Maybe we’ll find a way to bring our childhood into the metaverse. Perhaps the metaverse will learn all the lessons taught over the past two decades by the failure to keep young people safe online. But, in all likelihood, that will not be the case. We’ll have to work harder than ever to find our luxuries and relax offline in things like staying up late, swapping manly stories, and in the morning making waffles.


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