The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.
At this point, we here at WIRED should definitely be done writing about Dune. (Or at least tired of it.) But frankly, that’s just not the case. We might be over writing about the book’s connections to global conflict and Burning Man or about stillsuits and maxi pads, but when it comes to Denis Villeneueve’s movie adaptation, there’s still, uh, so much more melange to mine. And the spice this week has definitely been the memes.
Unfortunately, for copyright reasons, we can’t put all of them here, but please believe us when we tell you that there have been scores of Dune memes. Jokes about sandworms, gags playing on Joey Tribbiani’s “How you doin’?” line from Friends. (It’s “How you Dune?” Get it? Oh, it was obvious? Never mind.) There was even one floating around of Shania Twain saying “So you’re Maud’Dib? That don’t impress me much.” A veritable bounty of Arrakeen artistry is snaking through the internet right now, and it couldn’t be more well-timed.
Why? Because this week has been beyond weird. All weeks exist on some plane of weird in 2021, but this week jumped around from Covid-19 vaccine booster shots to Considering the planet is burning, let’s maybe break off a few billion to President Biden and the Pope. And people are still talking about Dave Chappelle and Netflix. Oh, and the 4-hour workweek is back. It has been, to borrow a phrase, like riding a roller coaster.
Or, perhaps, a sandworm. And the fact that we can even make that joke and trust that people know what it means shows just how much Dune has taken over the zeitgeist in recent days. It’s everywhere—in a way that feels both predictable and unbelievable at the same time. It’s predictable because Dune is a big studio movie, bolstered by a massive promotional campaign that’s fronted by the movie’s internet-beloved stars Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet. Also of note: Dune is a book that’s been beloved by nerds for decades, and, well, nerds like making memes. Anyway. On the other hand, Dune remains a dense text with concepts and terms so oblique it’s hard to wrangle them into an image macro. As much as Dune’s time has come, it could’ve easily never come at all.
Credit Villeneuve with making a movie that allowed this to happen. Unlike, say, David Lynch, who took an overly sobersided book and transformed it into a movie that was giving nothing but camp and Sting in fancy underwear, Villeneuve made a film that took Dune as seriously as it took itself. And if there’s one thing the internet is good at, it’s poking holes in pretentiousness. It will take your (admittedly brilliant) art movie and find ways to yuck your Gom Jabbar. It’ll also turn your silly space worm into Wendy Williams. And during a week when Mark Zuckerberg had the audacity to look the internet in the eye and ask its denizens to call Facebook Meta, these images were desperately needed.