Junk Explained: They Did Surgery On A Grape
Is this 2018's dumbest meme?
Have you heard the good news? Over the weekend, ecstatic cries of joy echoed out across the world: they did surgery on a grape.
If you are confused, you are not alone. ‘They did surgery on a grape’ is possibly one of 2018’s most alienating and impenetrable memes, seemingly because there is nothing to penetrate. Over the weekend, Twitter was overrun with references to a grape that had undergone surgery.
— They Did (@SurgeryOnA) November 23, 2018
Her: so tell me about yourself
Me: they did surgery on a grape
— Beans After Dark (@goodbeanalt) November 24, 2018
The internet is weird, I’m gone for two seconds and now all this surgery on a grape nonsense. I’m confused.
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) November 25, 2018
How did we get here? Let’s explain.
Well, They Did Surgery On An (Australian) Grape
Back in 2010, regional Australian healthcare provider Edward Hospital uploaded a video to their YouTube to showcase their new robotic surgery tool, the da Vinci Surgical System.
Edward Hospital travels around Australia, allowing access to complex medical surgeries: tools like the da Vinci allow for more precision and less risk of error. For example, robots don’t tremor and can perform tiny movements with precision and ease, not to mention their wrists can rotate a lot more than ours. To show that off, Edward Hospital did surgery on a grape. And now, eight years later, the internet is obsessed.
It began six days ago, when Instagram meme account SimpleDorito posted a screenshot from a Facebook video by Cheddar, one of those pages that post ‘inspirational’ videos. You know the ones — they rip a heart-warming viral video or strip a scientific breakthrough down to its most bare-bone, digestible facts, then layer it with licence-free music and dumbed-down captions in order to maximise share-ability across all demographics and ages.
‘They Did Surgery On A Grape’ might seem like an extreme example, but is it really more mind-numbing than ‘Chicken can’t afford umbrella so uses her wings to keep chicks out of rain‘?
But the ‘TDSOAG’ meme didn’t begin just yet. It would take three more days, when someone sent Simple Dorito this divine palimpsest of users endlessly stealing content through screenshots and claiming it as their own. Yet the caption — so abstracted from Edward Hospital’s original purpose, carrying none of the context of what the surgery actually meant — was always the same: they did surgery on a grape. Wow!
While dada-ist at first, ‘They Did Surgery On A Grape’ is pretty indicative of where we’re at on the internet. It’s content pulled from anywhere it can be to stretch a page’s reach and generate more ad revenue, stripped itself generically clean to climb up an algorithm, losing any purpose other than its intended vitality. ‘They Did Surgery On A Grape’ is arguably 2018’s dumbest meme, which might make it the year’s most emblematic, too.
THEY DID SURGERY ON A GRAPE pic.twitter.com/sVe0vnnRSX
— Todd 'Papi' Carlos (@TheToddWilliams) November 24, 2018
Of course, ‘They Did Surgery On A Grape’ soon exploded beyond its original format. First, people began to imagine the grape’s world. How was grape grappling with their new-found celeb status?
the grape they did surgery on: pic.twitter.com/bDcsU2mT2A
— millie x (@itsmillieiguess) November 24, 2018
Then the greedy public demanded to know what the surgery was — when rumours circulated that it was elective plastic surgery, A Very Important discussion about bodily autonomy took place in grape’s fanbase.
to all the people shaming them: first off, they look amazing and secondly it’s nobody’s business what grape does with their body
— 𝖊𝖗𝖔𝖙𝖎𝖈 𝖋𝖎𝖈𝖙𝖎𝖔𝖓 𝖆𝖚𝖙𝖍𝖔𝖗 (@urvillageidiot) November 24, 2018
Still, people in grape’s close circle began to leak screenshots of texts and Snapchats. Eager to learn everything we can, we gobbled them up. Shameful.
— blue worm red scarf (@homedepotfan91) November 23, 2018
they did surgery on a grape pic.twitter.com/ghXRzeOB2u
— taehyung’s toe warmer (@sunlitjhs) November 24, 2018
Grape has also been hailed as an LGBT icon and ally (by me). Grape’s ascent has been fast and quick, and as they recover from their surgery (which took place in 2010, but let us ignore that) we hope they feel the love and support from the world.
Jared Richards is a staff writer for Junkee, and co-host of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. Follow him on Twitter.