What Happens When You Become the Face of a Popular Meme?

One of the weirder ways to become famous

A popular meme has a surreal afterlife.
Lauren Mancke/Unsplash

In a world where social media posts can go viral at a moment’s notice and concepts of fame have expanded dramatically, the ways in which a person can become famous (or infamous) are legion. But in most of these cases, the people in question actually have some sort of vested interest in their own public profile. But what about someone becoming inexorably associated with a meme without necessarily seeking out that particular form of fame?

And yes, we realize that this is the concept behind a recent Saturday Night Live sketch. But it’s also the real-life experience of one Josep Maria García, who lives not far from Barcelona. You’ve probably seen his face, even if his name is wholly unfamiliar to you. That’s because a photo of García was used to illustrate Clickhole’s “Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made A Great Point” story in 2018 — and it’s given García a strange version of fame ever since.

A new article in The Guardian traces just how García’s photo ended up used for Clickhole’s story, and the occasionally bizarre fallout from it in the years since. Apparently, García’s brother-in-law is a professional photographer, and took the photo of him in 2014 — which ended up being added to Getty Images’ library of photos. It was from there that, four years later, Clickhole selected the image to accompany their article.

And while The Guardian notes a few online commenters who haven’t quite figured out that García is not the character described in Clickhole’s article, García himself seems fairly relaxed about the whole thing. “I find it quite funny, it’s a good article,” he told The Guardian. “It doesn’t disturb me or anything.” One might even say that he’s making a great point.

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