How the Internet Became Shrek’s Swamp

The cartoon ogre’s long online afterlife has led to some weird, messy, and hilarious pockets of fandom.

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Episode Notes

On today’s episode, Rachelle and Madison chronicle the long, complicated life of Shrek online. They argue that the film, which premiered in 2001, was primed to become an internet meme before Shrek fans even got their hands on it. And then they explain all the different iterations, some funny and some downright creepy, of Shrek content that have kept the green ogre alive on the web for 20 years.

The Shrek Syllabus:

YouTubers react to “Shrek Is Love, Shrek Is Life”

• “Shrek Retold” on YouTube

• “Re-enacting the entirety of Shrek 2 for charity” on YouTube

• “How Shrek Blew My Band Up,” by Rachel Brodsky in Vulture

• “A Cultural Evolution of Shrek, from Blockbuster Hit to Historic Meme,” by Ella Kemp in Vice

• “How Shrek Changed Animated Movies Forever,” by Elamin Abdelmahmoud in BuzzFeed

• “The Internet’s Shrek Obsession Will Live on Forever” by Claire McNear in the Ringer

Podcast production by Daniel Schroeder and Derek John


About the Show

Join Madison Malone Kircher and Rachelle Hampton twice a week as they gaze deep into the online abyss—and tell you what’s gazing back. All episodes


  • Rachelle Hampton is a culture writer and reporter at Slate. Her work has appeared in the New Republic, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian Magazine, and In These Times. She still hasn't recovered from Tumblr's demise.

  • Madison Malone Kircher is a senior writer at Slate. She was previously a staff writer at New York magazine, where she covered internet culture and edited New York’s Approval Matrix. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Vulture, and the Cut. Madison lives in Brooklyn, where she regularly drops her phone on her face watching TikToks in bed.