The rise of the porn meme

Alongside GIFs, Vines, and pictures from pop culture, clips from porn videos are increasing popular meme fodder on social media sites.

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WARNING: Some of the content linked in this piece is not safe for work (NSFW). This content will be marked as such.

When it comes to the internet, sex feels like it's everywhere – from porn sites to pop-up ads to men private messaging women on social media to send them unsolicited dick pics. But in the world of internet memes, however, sex has struggled to permeate the mainstream. While work lives, spending habits, and love of food have long been staples of the meme world, sex has remained a taboo, a “dirty” dark side of the internet that wouldn't appear on your Twitter timeline or Facebook feed. However, in recent months a new kind of meme has emerged, one that was previously relegated to the quiet corners of PornHub.

That meme trend is of course porn memes. These use porn to make jokes about both our sex lives, but also use scenes and dialogue to refer to day-to-day drudgery – and they are becoming increasingly prevalent among social media users on many platforms as a way to relate to their peers online.

Porn memes have grown exponentially especially in the last several months. At the time of writing, there are more than 54,000 posts tagged #pornmemes on Instagram, and tweets containing porn memes. Clips from porn videos are getting tens of thousands of likes and retweets in a matter of hours. On Tumblr, too, porn content is gaining strength, with one particular Tumblr account, “Porn Memes At Midnight” (a word of warning, this page is very Not Safe For Work), sharing similar content. Launched in January 2018, it appears to be one of the first accounts on any social media site to wholeheartedly embrace the trend. Many of its posts have several hundred “reblogs” – Tumblr’s sharing mechanism – and the account was posting near daily in the early months of this year, mostly commenting on sex itself. However, while many of the memes on Tumblr and Instagram were and are entirely focused on making jokes about heteronormative sex, in recent weeks the memes have increasingly branched out into content not strictly about fornication.

On Twitter, a pair of porn actresses, Rebecca More and Sophie Anderson, have particularly reigned queens of the porn meme scene. Both based in the UK, More is well-known for regularly playing the character of a Milf (a “mother I’d like to fuck”, ie an attractive older woman) and Sophie has gained popularity as a rising star in the British porn industry, winning “Best Starlet” at the 2018 Shaftas (the UK’s porn industry awards). Known as a duo as the “Cock Destroyers”, many of More and Anderson’s videos together aren’t strictly pornographic, but just the two of them, scantily dressed, speaking provocatively to the camera. This content has inspired hundreds of memes wholly divorced from talking about the act of sex itself.

Indeed, while many of the porn meme pages on Instagram and Tumblr focus on actual sex, the memes circulating Twitter tend to have nothing to do with sex at all. Some tweets include jokes about pricey food, alongside videos one or both of the Cock Destroyers saying “I’m too expensive for you” or “it will be a small fee to pay, but I’m sure you won’t mind.” Other popular memes are on a specific video of More aimlessly walking around in high heels and a trench coat, with one meme (perhaps dubiously) captioning the clip, “Kate McCann walking around looking for Maddie the night she went missing” and another “me listening to sad music on my way home and pretending to be in a music video”. One meme (which was too graphic to embed into this article) features a video of More having sex, saying to the camera: “Today’s meant to be Sunday, a day of rest… But not for me!” with the caption “me leaving my assignments to the last minute”.

The ubiquity of the Cock Destroyers is growing on Twitter, with tweets simply referencing the porn pair (even without any video attached) drawing in hundreds of likes; especially among young LGBT+ fans. Twitter is riddled with posts about their popularity amongst this particular audience, with some reading, “When will the cock destroyers start doing appearances at gay clubs”, “How have the gays managed to turn those two cock destroyers that were targeted at horny straight men into gay icons”, and “The fucking cock destroyers are LGBT icons now.”

And it would appear the Cock Destroyers have enjoyed their meme-ification amongst gay social media users as well. Responding to a tweet pondering whether or not More and Anderson had benefited from, or been hurt by, becoming a meme, More replied, “I love gays... they’ll just have to deal with it.”

Even without the Cock Destroyers, though, porn memes are experiencing unprecedented popularity. Both BuzzFeed and College Humor have run pieces in the last six months collating posts from social media pointing to the rising trend. So now when you see media attached to a tweet, a Tumblr blog, or posted on Instagram, be careful as to what you might be pulling up on your screen. While before it was Vines, Gifs, and pictures from mainstream culture, porn videos are becoming increasingly prevalent meme fodder.

Sarah Manavis is the New Statesman's tech and digital culture writer.