Imagine being immortalised an Internet meme, at the already-awkward age of 16, while ‘trying to hold a fart next to a cute girl in class’.
This is the every day nightmare of Mike McGee. You’ll almost certainly recognise him as the guy from the meme which has been used to call out all the globe’s main players and their stifled senses of self across the world wide web.
No one is safe. So far, vegans, DJ Khaled, President Donald Trump and even Bitcoin have all been given the ‘fart meme’ treatment with varying degrees of hilarity and mild offence.
The male student depicted in the photograph was identified as Michael McGee, a now 20-year-old former student at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas.
UNILAD tracked McGee down to ask the big questions.
Namely, did he succumb and let one rip?
Speaking exclusively to UNILAD, McGee confirmed he wasn’t actually flatulent, laughing:
No, I was not flatulent, by any means!
McGee added it’s ‘kinda weird’ to kick up such an online stink for The Flatulence That Never Was, but added, ‘I enjoy the recognition for the most part!’
So much so, he agreed to show us how it’s done in the video below:
McGee explained what was really going on in the photograph, recalling:
Well, the guy who took the picture has been a good friend of mine since I first moved out here to Texas, so he knew I was able to make the face anytime I wanted.
So he wanted to make a funny twitter caption and told me to make the face. He posted it and like to or three months after he posted it, it took off!
The picture was taken during a class and shared to Twitter by his friend and original caption culprit, Mathew Rosero, now 19, on October 24 2013.
As Mike admitted, it captured little attention at the time of the upload, alongside the uninspiring hashtag ‘Booty Had Me Like’, with a meagre 37 likes at time of writing.
Yet when Redditor aaduk_ala submitted the same photograph titled Trying to hold a fart next to a cute girl in class to the /r/funny subreddit on March 2 2014, McGee’s life would change forever.
Prior to being archived, the post gained over 2,500 votes (88 per cent upvoted) and 500 comments – in layman’s terms, the people of Reddit – the font of all things online and the front page of the Internet – loved McGee and his straining veins.
McGee explained how he can reconstruct the famous meme anytime, joking:
It’s quite the party trick. I kind of just hold my breath and flex my head, if that makes sense?
Similarly, the meme can be applied to almost any situation, apparently evidenced by Redditor Professorloth64, who submitted a photoshopped version of the image titled ‘Feminists’ to /r/ImGoingToHellForThis on Christmas Day.
In 72 hours the post garnered upwards of 3,600 votes (89 per cent upvoted).
On December 28, the same photoshop appeared on Instagram with the caption ‘When all men are pigs and you haven’t told anyone in 8 minutes’.
Thanks to heroic efforts from Internet feminists to see the funny side of the crass joke about gender equality – and the guffaws of the feminist-hating corners of the web – in less than 24 hours, the post accumulated more than 136,000 likes.
I got 3,000 different captions of memes with my face? https://t.co/Jp9OsHqxbW
— Mike (@McGeezyyy) July 31, 2017
Since his face was the subject of the ultimate caption competition, it’s been up and down for Mike, who was trained at a broadcast media academy in high school and understands the wiley ways of the web.
He gets recognised ‘all the time’ by ‘random people’ who ‘come up me in the street ask if I’m the meme and what not’.
Just in case you need a meme class, here’s a rundown of some of the best:
My parents don’t really understand how big and widespread it is so they overlook the whole thing. My friends find it hilarious though!
The worst and most annoying thing was pretty recent, when someone in Italy found my Facebook and messaged me, so I saw no harm and replied.
Well, I guess he posted it on his Facebook, because instantly I got flooded with hundreds of people from Italy and the rest of Europe trying to message me and be friends on Facebook.
The onslaught lasted about a week.
He added, ‘But the best was when I received free taco bell for doing the face. I love Taco Bell!’ Shame the same doesn’t apply to Bitcoins, however.
While Mike seems pretty happy to be a self-confessed ‘retired meme‘, what of the ‘cute girl’ who sits blissfully unaware next to the history-maker?
Mike confirmed he’s ‘very good friends with the girl in the photo’, Amber Potter (pictured above), the 21-year-old unwitting viral legend held up on the world wide web as an object of beauty.
Amber told UNILAD exactly how she feels about the whole scenario:
It’s actually pretty funny! I remember the first comment I read on Reddit was, ‘wow she couldn’t even smile she looks so rude and will probably be a manager of Burger King at 47’.
It’s crazy people have so much free time to come up with something like that just from one’s side profile! But besides that, it’s been pretty interesting along with flattering!
I don’t think it’s really affected me at all! If anything people will just ask ‘Is that really you!?’ But other than that, I’m not the star of the show, we’ll leave all of that to Mike!
I still think it’s so funny how much attention the picture got and still receives in the first place!
It was my junior year in high school – which was almost four years ago – so it’s still crazy when people ask about it!
At first when he made the face I was like, ‘oh my gosh what is he doing, I hope he’s okay’? It really does look quite painful and concerning especially in person!
I remember it as if it happened yesterday and it really was a rather odd yet humorous situation to be a part of.
I still keep in touch with Mike to this day and we laugh about it now! I think the part that gets me the most is that his face made it to the meme game!
That’s so crazy to me especially since it was just taken as a funny picture in our math class and half of the class didn’t even realise we took it until after it blew up!
— amber (@amberenee_) November 21, 2016
Funnily enough, Mike went to the same high school as Overly Attached Girlfriend, now known as successful YouTuber, Laina Morris.
Laina hit the big time when she uploaded a webcam video of her own rendition of Justin Bieber’s single Boyfriend with parody personalised lyrics that send shivers down any commitment-phobe’s spine.
The video, a response to Bieber’s announcement of an online sing-off contest to promote his perfume, has 19,023,591 views at time of writing and we’re thinking there must be something in the water fountains at this school.
Yet a picture is worth a thousand song lyrics and Mike tells us his personal highlights:
My favourites have been ones where people have drawn on me, to make me look like a certain character, but have still kept my face.
Just like this beauty:
Asking Mike whether he had any regrets, he joked ‘copyright copyright copyright’, adding:
I could’ve be a freaking millionaire by now but I learned that if I successfully wanted to get my money for my picture, I would need a very good lawyer and I’m kinda not the most politically correct guy so I didn’t even mess with that and let people enjoy the picture!
Although money is what makes the world spin, I like to entertain people and make them smile or laugh.
I’ve always been like that, so I suppose if I don’t end up with anything going for me in life I could always be a comedian?
I, for one, support this ambition and would pay good money to watch a comedy set for a self-confessed ‘retired meme’.
Imagine the stories. Failing that, the face could entertain for hours.
If you have a meme story you want to tell, share it with UNILAD via [email protected]
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.