How the internet turned the dadcore staple, “Fish Fear Me,” into viral fad

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It’s hard to pinpoint the origins of “Women Want Me. Fish Fear Me,” and it’s even harder to pinpoint the exact moment it was co-opted by young people, especially young gay people.

In its early days, the phrase adorned t-shirts and the backs of pick-up trucks along with other wacky fishing mottoes, from the chaste “Good things come to those who bait” to the cheeky “Of course I come fast, I have fish to catch! Documented scouting saw him appear at a Alan Jackson concert in 2002 and in a 2009 column in The Oklahoma Dailyin which writer Jackie Papandrew shared that her dad “probably wants to be buried in” his “Women Want Me. Fish Fear Me” shirt.

Throughout the late 2010s, just when Bass Pro Shops Cap become ubiquitous, the fishing motto has seeped into the mainstream. But Google research because “fish fear me” really started picking up in June 2020. Anika Padin, a student at Northeastern University and fan of the hat, once thought it was an inside joke that stemmed from a show big audience like Office. The birth of “fish fear me”, however, is far more elusive. Perhaps, in a certain Jungian twist, it has always been inside of us.

Know Your Meme, an indispensable chronicle of internet culture, credits the “Women Want Me, Fish Fear Me” Hat Parodies to a photoshopped meme of a baseball cap emblazoned with the following copypasta: “Women want me, fish fear me / Men look away from me as I walk / No beast dares make noise in my presence / I am alone on this barren land Earth.” A cap is comically high (perhaps to fit the massive brain of the wearer); another one (from Cool Shirtz for $40) has an exaggerated bill. Nowadays, the slogan adorns pixels as well as textiles – often paired with grandpa sweaterscargo and New Balance 990.

Lesbians, in particular, have kissed the phrase. Queer indie musician Lucy Dacus even released an official $30 merchandise hat that reads “Lucy loves me, daddies fear me” and features an embroidered rainbow trout.

“I identify with dads. I would make a good dad, especially when it comes to stereotypical things like grilling, building things, having a dad’s sense of humor,” said student Lillian Pearce 21-year-old, who owns and frequently wears one of Lucy Dacus’ hats. “It’s not that queer people like fishing, it’s just that co-opting dad’s expression is really funny,” says -she, before her friend, Mik Dietz, adds that “it’s about playfully poking fun at that kind of hyper-masculinity. When people recognize the hat, Lillian says she feels a sense of camaraderie .

The peach hat evokes a platonic dad: an aloof and unflappable patriarch who cares more about function than fashion; who is proud to mow the lawn; who eats the end of the bread; who doesn’t want to part with his old, grass-stained denim shorts and thinks fishing is the greatest thing in the known world. It is simple. He is macho. He is irresistible.

The semi-ironic embrace of fishing lore – Big Mouth Billy Bass wall hangings, flippant slogans and a broader trend of peach stone – flirts with mainstream appeal. And it’s not just bobs: it’s chunky cargo, rubber boots, sea shanties and corny mantras on tattered t-shirts. Young people are embracing the dadcore principles of being comfortable and enjoying a light beer by the lake, even as they fish at lower rates than previous generations (a statistic that has prompted lawmakers worried about the Kansas to hilarious suggest Wi-Fi in parks).

The tongue-in-cheek motto splintered into variations, having its own Cambrian explosion: “Mermaids have mixed feelings about me” and “Fish love me, women fear me cause I fuck fish” and “i want fish women.” There are fishing products for DB Cooper lovers Where animal crossing. Let any fish that meet my gaze learn the true meaning of fear for I am the harbinger of death,” a variant begins. In 2009, a chronicle of Port Charlotte Sun noted an opposite statement, “Fish fear me, women revere me”, observed in the back of the cars, and since, the variations have become endless. The fish move quickly and descend into a deranged gibberish. Attention, “the fish and i entered into an uneasy alliance against women.”

One day last summer, I ordered a black baseball cap that read “Women like fish, I’m scared of me” that I saw on Instagram. Of course, I don’t particularly like fish and I’m not scared of myself enough to hat it, I just fell victim to the temptation to semi ironic meme clothes.

In just a few days, Photoshopped meme-y concept art can become real apparel on your doorstep — a meme you see on Monday can be in your closet by the end of the week. The path from internet joke to tangible product is lightning fast compared to the dot-com days when running a virtual store required computer servers, programming prowess and a commitment to logistics. . Today, approximately 1.7 million people run stores on Shopify. Other low-code sites like Redbubble handle the dropshipping logistics once you’ve uploaded the image you want to slap on a product.

“Fishing memes are hilarious and I’ve never really fished before. Instilling fear in aquatic creatures is sexy, which is why women love me,” says Jackson Weimer, a 24-year-old recruiter who manages the Instagram meme page. @hugeplateofketchup8.

Gabe Hockett, a 15-year-old high school student from Minnesota, bought a super top hat because he likes when things are mangled until they don’t make sense. “Fishing hats are so absurd but they’re a perfect fit with modern humor,” he says.

John Manheimer, who runs various ultra-popular graphic t-shirt social media accounts, thinks a lot of the fishing humor is part of a “whole genre of tongue-in-cheek stuff that’s super meme-based and super fried”.

“We’re all a little wild after over a decade of social media,” he says, “so we start saying things like ‘women like fish, me I’m scared’, you know?”

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