The Crying MJ meme refuses to die, and according to Charles Oakley, his good buddy Michael Jordan is no fan.
Jordan, who we can’t imagine spending too much time online, has said in the past that his camp is “monitoring” the fad so that no one profits from it.
The New Yorker, of all publications, took a good hard look at this bit of irresistible Internet stupidity:
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) May 12, 2016
If you’ve spent any time on the Internet recently, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an image of Michael Jordan’s tearful face superimposed on someone else’s body. The meme, known as Crying Jordan, has been around for several years, but became ubiquitous on the Web starting this past fall. Whenever someone—an athlete, an actor, a politician—fails in a public way, his face will promptly be replaced by Jordan’s. When Donald Trump lost the Iowa caucuses, he became Crying Jordan. When the quarterback Cam Newton lost the Super Bowl, he became Crying Jordan. When Michael Jordan himself, sitting in the stands at the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball championship, watched as his alma mater North Carolina lost to Villanova, he became Crying Jordan. (The meme also works on non-human objects, like taco bowls.) At this very moment, someone, somewhere, is failing, and Crying Jordan awaits.
The Crying Jordan image itself, as the Wall Street Journal noted in February, dates back to 2009, when Jordan gave a speech at a ceremony marking his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The connection between that speech and the meme it helped spawn is important. Hall of Fame speeches are, generally, warm and generous—former players looking back fondly on legendary careers. But Jordan took a different approach. After crying briefly at the beginning of his remarks, Jordan re-litigated, one by one, individual battles he had fought with coaches and Bulls executives over the years, focussing his speech on the people who had doubted him or threatened his success. He was bitter and aggrieved, and even his jokes had a hard edge. For a player famous for his on-court grace, the speech was anything but. It was also, for many people, the most that they had heard Jordan say about himself and his years in basketball. Where was the affable hero of “Space Jam” and Wheaties boxes?