Brow Beat

The Wes Anderson Cannes Actors Meme Is Like The Breakfast Club, Basically

We love it because … we seek connection.

U.S. actor Bill Murray, British actress Tilda Swinton, U.S. director Wes Anderson and French-U.S. actor Timothee Chalamet pose during a photo call for the film "The French Dispatch" at the 74th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France.
Not the meme. Christophe Simon/Getty Images

Good news, everyone! There’s a hot new meme in town, thanks to the following photo:

Four people stand in a row: two men, then one woman, then another man.
Timothee Chalamet, Wes Anderson, Tilda Swinton, and Bill Murray at this year’s Cannes. Samir Hussein/WireImage
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That’s four truly iconique figures in four truly iconique outfits, right there: Ya got Timothee Chalamet, slightly hunched, wearing lots of jewelry and a T-shirt that I’ve definitely seen a knock-off of at Urban Outfitters recently; Wes Anderson in a nice blue suit; Tilda Swinton in a way nicer blue suit; and Bill Murray, dressed like a stylish grandpa and wearing the same sneakers that I’m pretty sure he also wore in Space Jam (1996). They’re posing together because they’re all part of The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson’s much-delayed film that finally premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday.

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The internet is obsessed with this photo. It has proliferated all over everyone’s Twitter timelines today, to the point of being a trending topic. The way the meme works, if you haven’t been online yet today, is that someone will post or quote-tweet the image below a list of four items from a certain category. For example, they’ll do something like, “Allegra Frank, Allegra Frank’s editor, Allegra Frank’s final draft, and Allegra Frank’s first draft.” That’s a bad example (because, my editor says, the distance between the first and last draft of this post is not Murray to Swinton), but the point is that each of the four people in the photo correspond to each of the four things in the list, in order. I promise it’s much funnier when other people do it, like so:

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Why does everyone love this meme so much? My easy explanation is that human beings long to identify with each other, to define themselves as to make themselves easier to understand and thus connect with. The best, oft-funniest way of doing this is by pointing to some character or animal or fruit and saying, “That’s so me.” That way, everyone who’s familiar with that character or animal or fruit will instantly understand who you are based on their own understanding of said character/animal/fruit. It’s why The Breakfast Club is so popular: It simplifies the complexity of existence into five teenage avatars, assigning them brands that we can then attach ourselves to, so that we ourselves can be seen. (I’m a Wes Anderson wishing I were a Tilda Swinton in this pic, by the way.)

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But we don’t have to over-intellectualize this! And here are some great ones:

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