Attack on Pearl Harbor refers to a series of memes revolved around Japan’s attack on the American bases in Pearl Harbor. This WWII event resulted in America entering the war and ultimately winning against the Axis powers alongside the Allied powers in 1945. Memes associated with this historical event often involve formats of Germany saying that they are doing well in WWII before Japan reveals that they attacked Pearl Harbor, resulting in Germany’s anger at Japan and America entering the conflict. The event is a particularly common topic among historical meme communities but has also been referenced elsewhere online across a wide range of platforms and sites over the years.
The Pearl Harbor Attack took place on December 7th, 1941. On that day, after increasing tensions between America and Japan, Japan sent air forces to attack and bomb the American bases in Pearl Harbor off the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Despite being carried out by Japan to establish dominance as a strategic move, America officially declared war on Japan the following day. America would then become a major faction in WWII, which ended in 1945 after the invasion of Europe resulted in Germany’s leader, Adolf Hitler, committing suicide and forcing Germany to surrender, as well as the dropping of atomic bombs on two of Japan’s cities, resulting in Hirohito of Japan surrendering to America.
From 2017 to 2018, memes about the Pearl Harbor Attack resulting in Germany and Japan losing to America and the Allied powers started to become prevalent among memes. An early example was posted in 2017 on ImgFlip using the Gru’s Plan format. In three years, the meme received 41,650 views and ten upvotes (shown below).
In 2018, another example was posted on ImgFlip featuring the caption “Japan: attacks Pearl Harbor,” followed by an image macro of Thanos saying, “You should’ve gone for the head.” It received 35,228 views and three upvotes in two years (seen below, left). On May 3rd, 2018, an image macro of a boy representing America throwing something similar to a nuke at another boy representing Japan was posted to Reddit by GeneralVonEgglord with the caption, “When you think it’s a good idea to attack Pearl Harbor,” receiving 315 upvotes in six months (seen below, right).
On August 30th, 2018, another meme was posted by Redditor Monachi using the Blinking White Guy meme with a Hitler mustache. It was an early example of implicating that Hitler was disappointed or angered with Japan’s provocation of America. The post received over 54,800 upvotes and 870 comments in six months (shown below).
On April 13th, 2019, iFunny user ArchdukeFranzFerdinand posted another example using Godzilla from the That Wasn’t Very Cash Money of You meme (seen below, left). On October 13th, 2019, another variant was posted by iFunny user DepressedMemes4DankTeens based on Super Smash Brothers Ultimate announcements that a new character has appeared in the game, with the character being the country of the United States. The post received over 117,200 likes and 1,300 comments in just one year (seen below, right).
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