Man of Culture Meme: Meaning & Origin?

Here’s what the “man of culture” meme means and its origin:

The man of culture meme usually comes in two forms.

It can be a self-contained joke with words used to set up and deliver the punchline.

It can also be used as a response to a comment, in which case it can be taken literally, ironically, or even sarcastically, requiring context clues to decipher the true intent.

So if you want to learn all about the meaning and origin of the “man of culture” meme, then this article is for you.

Let’s jump right into it!

"Man of Culture" Meme: Meaning & Origin?

What Is a Meme?

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Hang on a second.

We’ve all seen the word meme thrown around, and we probably each have a favorite meme (or even multiple favorites).

Despite that, do you really know what a meme is?

Can you define it?

I’m going to do that to make sure everyone is on the same page.

According to Wikipedia, “A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme.”

That’s a bit wordy, but basically, a meme is any common reference in a culture that people imitate.

On the internet, memes usually involve some type of picture and possibly a phrase. 

Here are a few common examples of memes.

But, memes don’t absolutely have to follow that format.

Back in the 90s, there was a Budweiser commercial that was extremely popular.

It involved three frogs saying the name of the beer.

That was imitated relentlessly for a few years.

Even though the entire thing was word of mouth, it was technically a meme.

The point here is that memes come in a lot of varieties, and they don’t necessarily mean what they seem to be on the surface.

Sometimes they don’t really mean much at all.

It’s important to remember that as we explore this meme in particular.

What Is the Man of Culture Meme?

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The Man of Culture meme is a particular meme that employs a scene from an anime series.

I’ll explain the origins at the end.

For now, it’s important to discuss what the meme looks like.

From there, I can get into what it means and how people use it.

The meme involves a picture with an anime character speaking, and the bottom of the picture includes the phrase, “Ah, I see you’re a man of culture as well.”

Without context, this is what it looks like

Generally speaking, the top of the picture includes some type of setup, leaving the man of culture phrase as the punchline.

The meme can also be used without a setup.

In that case, it’s a reaction meme where you’re using the picture and the phrase to respond to a comment or statement on the internet.

What Does the Man of Culture Meme Mean? (3 Things)

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As I just said, the meme is generally used in one of two ways.

It might be a self-contained joke where the words at the top set up a scenario and the culture reference become the punchline. 

Or, the meme can be posted in response to something.

While that might sound like it explains the meaning of the meme, that’s not really the case.

Whether it is a reaction or a self-contained joke, the meme is used to express a number of different ideas and sentiments.

As a reaction, it can be used somewhat ironically in order to support a statement that you see.

It can also be used ironically to support an unpopular opinion.

You can go even further down the rabbit hole and use the meme as a sarcastic response to something, essentially disagreeing with someone by posting the meme.

As far as self-contained jokes go, there are just as many possibilities, and we’ll cover some of the most common joke formats and applications a little later.

#1 You Have Good Taste

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With all of that said, let’s discuss the most basic use of the meme.

In this case, it’s a reaction to a statement, and you’re using the meme to agree with someone.

In a lot of cases, this happens when someone expresses interest in something that you happen to like but that isn’t super popular.

You recognize a fellow cult fan of the thing, and you show your support and agreement with the meme.

In this type of example, you’re suggesting that the other person really does have good taste.

There is no irony.

It’s just a positive support statement.

More specifically, the exchange could look something like this:

A random person on the internet claims that They Live is the most underrated alien action film of the 80s.

You who happen to love this movie for some reason use the man of culture meme in response.

In this made-up example, you and the stranger on the internet happen to share an appreciation for a film that isn’t widely known, much less widely loved.

When you see a fellow fan, you’re surprised and want to share your mutual appreciation of the movie.

The meme is a good way to do that.

As we delve into ironic and sarcastic uses of the meme, note the big difference.

In this case, you’re genuinely suggesting that the other person has good taste and that you agree with them.

#2 I’m Being Ironic

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Ok. I’m now about to try to explain the nuances and applications of irony and sarcasm.

We’re going to spin in a few circles along the way, so bear with me. 

While people sometimes use the meme to suggest that they agree with a statement, it’s also used to express irony and sarcasm.

Let’s talk about a common ironic use first.

Say you come across a comment on the internet with an unpopular take, but it’s one you actually agree with.

You can use the meme to support the statement and show that you agree, even though you recognize that your take is not necessarily the “cultured” take.

Let’s use a bit of a silly example.

Say someone on the internet says that puppies and kittens aren’t cute at all and are totally overrated.

As someone who’s not particularly fond of pets, you post your agreement.

You already know that this is an unpopular opinion, but you can use the man of culture meme to ironically suggest that the unpopular opinion is actually the cultured opinion.

In this case, you’re agreeing with the person, but you’re also acknowledging that you have the unpopular take.

Calling your opinion cultured is the ironic part of the whole thing.

On the flip side, the meme can also be used to disagree with someone.

This is where context clues are very important.

Sometimes, people on the internet post things that are completely over the top.

Instead of saying they dislike a specific TV show, they talk about how all of the people involved deserve horrific physical punishment (perhaps you’ve seen how bad some of these posts can get).

You can use the man of culture meme to sarcastically agree with them.

In this context, you aren’t actually agreeing or calling them a man of culture.

Instead, the entire thing is sarcastic and the meme is highlighting just how out of place and unacceptable the comment might be.

#3 Making Raunchy Jokes

Happy smiling man man using phone while sitting in a taxi

Those are all ways that you can use the meme in response to things you see, but there’s a whole other aspect to this.

As with any popular meme, the meme itself can be used to make self-contained jokes.

Since this is the internet we’re talking about, those jokes are often raunchy in nature.

I’m not going to quote any over-the-top meme examples here.

I’m trying to keep this family-friendly.

Keep in mind that plenty of the content is not safe for work and jumps right into the deep end of inappropriate humor.

You’ve been warned.

For the sake of people who don’t want to take the link to raunchyville, I’ll use a silly example to highlight the formula of the joke.

It might look something like this:

Me to friend: Coke or Pepsi?

Friend: Blended black licorice

Me: (uses the man of culture meme)

The whole idea behind the joke meme is that you’re saying something surprising and then calling it the cultured response.

That’s really the gist of it.

Where Does the Man of Culture Meme Come From?

Anime man looking in the distance at sunset. Manga style digital

That covers how the meme works and what it means—including several different possible meanings.

Still, we don’t know where it actually came from, yet.

This meme originates from an anime (as you might have guessed by the art style).

For those unfamiliar, anime is a term for Japanese cartoons, and in many cases, they are cartoons that are not catering to young children (although some do).

The anime that led to this meme is called Arakawa Under the Bridge.

It originally aired in 2010, so it’s been around for a while.

In the show, there is a character named Last Samurai.

At one point, he comes across another character who is wearing a traditional Japanese topknot (it’s a hairstyle).

Upon seeing the hairstyle, he makes the famous remark, “Ah, I see you’re a man of culture as well.” 

At some point, someone (it’s unknown who did it first) captured that moment in the anime in a still frame and added lines to it to create the Man of Culture joke meme.

That’s the origin.