July 5, 2020

The Full Story of the ‘You’ve Been Gnomed’ Meme Universe—And How It All Began With a Village Pond

What’s it about gnomes? The rosy-cheeked, bearded creatures of legend appear to seem mysteriously in popular culture whenever you least anticipate it — which is, in fact, proper consistent with the tough spirits they’re identified to be. One gnome meme — “You’ve been gnomed,” to be particular — has been a well-liked little bit of web ephemera for years now. Right here’s what to know in regards to the unusual, capricious video that sparked the gnome meme.

Gnomes themselves are nothing new or internet-specific, in fact. We are able to hint the creatures again to folkloric roots within the 16th century and the Swiss alchemist Paracelsus, who categorized beings into elemental classes; gnomes had been related to earth. After that, gnomes started showing in Romantic works of fantastical literature and fairy tales from the period.

Quick ahead to the current time, and gnomes are species we all know finest from their cameos in books like C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, J.Ok. Rowling’s Harry Potter collection (in these books, the gnomes are backyard pests who conceal in bushes, identified to look fairly like lumpy potatoes with legs) or the Dutch classics Gnomes and The Secret E-book of Gnomes. It was these final kids’s books, in truth, that helped cohere a singular model of the gnome as a small, jolly fellow with a white beard. It’s a picture paying homage to the Disney basic Snow White and the Seven Dwarves; in that cartoon, the diminutive beings are dwarves — however a lot of their traits would later be picked up by literature and visible representations of gnomes. After which there was the recognition of backyard gnome garden ornaments of the mid to late 20th century.

All of that brings us to “You’ve been gnomed.” In typical meme trend, the time period and its related video have a twisty backstory. KnowYourMeme traces the cultural artifact to 2008, and a U.Ok.-based web site devoted to the story of a cartoon character named Noggin Clontith. In accordance with that web site, nevertheless, Noggin was really “born” in 2005. “There have been 2 women in Lengthy Itchington, a village in Warwickshire, England, who had been utilizing a small toy Gnome to boost funds to revive the village pond, and who requested artist Angela Winstanley to deliver the gnome to life, and to inform the story,” the location explains. “This led to the creation of the character (Noggin Clontith being an Anagram of Lengthy Itchington).” Winstanley herself corroborates this story; she had been residing within the U.Ok. and dealing as an artist.

“The paradox is that the Noggin factor started as a little bit of enjoyable between mates,” she instructed TIME, checking in from her present dwelling in Cyprus, “and the character appeared to attract individuals in round him — so from the unique Lengthy Itchington context, songwriters, an actor, musicians and singers obtained concerned, and developed not solely the character, but in addition the voice and music. I wrote the story, developed the characters and the art work.” She has labored primarily with collaborator Steve Cartwright, who voices the character, ever since.

Lengthy Itchington looks as if a reasonably idyllic place; the guided stroll instructed by the city council consists of visits to the “Brickyard Cottages” and the 15th century “Manor Farm,” and, in accordance with the location, is the 11th century birthplace of St. Wulfstan, the Bishop of Worcester in his day. It additionally boasts seven pubs, because the city’s info web site proudly notes, and the “largest village pond in Warwickshire.” Presumably, that’s the exact same pond the Lengthy Itchington women had been trying to save. However regardless of Noggin’s distinctive character, Winstanley mentioned the venture had “gone to sleep” from their aspect.

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By 2008 the web site was launched and a universe created. A part of that universe: a banner video of Noggin Clontith himself, rendered in blurry, retro, unusually aggressive animation. “I’m not a g’nelf, I’m not a g’noblin, I’m a g’nome, and also you’ve been gnomed!” it performed in a particular voice as Noggin ambled and jumped throughout the display, cackling in his little crimson cap and blue shirt. Winstanley moved to Cyprus “some 9 years in the past or so,” she defined, “simply previous to which” the location and video had been set free on the web.

The clip took on a lifetime of its personal after it was posted to YouTube in 2010. That authentic has racked up over 10.6 million views in a decade. Winstanley mentioned Noggin was “left to hibernate with out anyone taking a lot discover,” however ultimately it additionally made its solution to Reddit in 2015, on a subreddit devoted to random bits of YouTube. “Noggin has been extensively used on YouTube to bother streamers and is featured on plenty of outstanding streamer channels,” the location additional explains. Principally, individuals would spam one another with the video — shock assault by Noggin, because it had been.

By 2018, the workforce had reclaimed the video by opening a brand new, official YouTube channel. (She misplaced the unique account’s password and has been unable to recuperate it.) To Winstanley, all of this has come as fairly a shock. “Reality is that I’m 66 years outdated, and never a terrific supervisor of social media!” she famous; it wasn’t till she acquired an “unsolicited message” 18 months in the past about Noggin that she found his movie star standing. “I used to be perplexed,” she added, and didn’t even know what a meme was on the time.

As for what all of it signifies? Most commenters on the video and related Reddit threads see “You’ve been gnomed” as a type of inane, weird items of web flotsam that will get shared round endlessly — a form of late-stage chain electronic mail or spam assault to troll your folks — however signifies just about nothing. It’s been super-processed or “deep fried” in web parlance; it’s been was static pictures; it’s served as the premise for long-form jokes. Finally, it makes simply as little sense because it appears to make. “This video is cursed,” one viewer commented on Reddit. “I’d wish to overlook this,” one other mentioned. “I really feel like a chunk of my soul has been stolen,” mentioned a 3rd.

Noggin could have develop into a chunk of lore — as gnomes are wont to do — however he hasn’t but had a lot of an affect on the unique pond restoration venture in Lengthy Itchington. Nevertheless, in Jan. 2019, native information reported {that a} developer donated £5,000, which might be used to assist deliver the pond again to its “former glory.” In accordance with a city councillor quoted within the article, the pond was final cleaned about 20 years prior, round 5 years earlier than Noggin Clontith made his first foray onto the scene. So whereas he finally could not have made a lot of a distinction within the silt ranges of Lengthy Itchington, at the least he has on-line infamy to his identify.

And there’s extra to come back: Winstanley has worldwide trademark rights to Noggin and “You’ve been Gnomed,” with books and merchandise within the works to proceed the “jolly” character’s story into the subsequent 12 months. “Steve and I’ve created the story of Noggin in Our on-line world, primarily based on the cloning of Noggin as a baseline — which kind of displays latest occasions for Noggin,” Winstanley shared. “After which we will probably be additional supporting Lengthy Itchington pond,” she reassured TIME, “and different causes.”

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