The Man Behind the Meme: Distracted Boyfriend

Me. Work. The last viral meme of the summer.

You’ve seen it, the “Distracted Boyfriend” meme that made its rounds on the internet over the past couple weeks. It starts with the picture:

Then text is added to label each person in the photo. The guy is subject, the girl in red is whatever is distracting the subject, and the girl in blue is whatever the subject should be paying attention to.

According to The Meme Documentation Tumblr, the meme first started in January and used by a Turkish Facebook group dedicated to progressive rock (of all things).

But of course it nothing happened with this Turkish group’s meme for months, until August, when a Twitter user kept the format but rejigged the text, and it went viral:

So what’s the deal with this photo anyways? It’s clearly not a candid of a couple on the rocks. The man behind the meme is 45-year-old photographer Antonio Guillem from Barcelona. He works for a company which produces the stock photos we see online, and focuses on people as subjects, instead of objects like cups of coffee or picturesque landscapes. Antonio usually works with the same people, including the “couple” in this photo, who he’s deemed “Mario” and “Laura”. A couple years ago, Antonio felt like he needed to shake up the scenes of his photo series, so he went with this jealousy storyline. “We decided to take a few risks, planning a session representing the infidelity concept in relationships in a playful and fun way,” he told Wired Magazine.

So, Antonio, “Mario”, “Laura” and misc. model who doesn’t work for the company anymore, went to a cobblestoned city in Gerona, Spain, and proceeded with their photoshoot. Just imagine seeing this play out IRL. It obviously garnered some attention.

“It was quite challenging to achieve face expressions that were believable,” Antonio said. “Mainly because we always have a really great work atmosphere, and almost all the time one of the models was laughing while we were trying to take the picture.”

“Mario” added, “I remember that it was kinda embarrassing because there where people watching and laughing, and I had to make this silly face. But in the end, like we always do, I just forgot they were there and did my job. I remember it like a learning experience, and I had fun with my team.” In case you’re interested, here are some photos from the series:

And Antonio is the most surprised out of everyone that a picture he took two years ago has resurfaced in the weirdest way – he didn’t even know what a meme was until his pic went viral. “I never thought that one of my images will be that popular. I didn’t even know what a meme is until recently, when the models started to tell me about the memes that people were doing with our work.”

“Mario” and “Laura” also never saw this viral internet fame coming, but “Laura” says she appreciates the “imagination”people have when coming up with the text. Antonio added, “Regarding what I think about the photo has gone viral, I think the image was a good foundation to whoever had the great idea to turn it into a metaphor that works for almost everything.”

That much is true. Here are some standouts from the last big meme of the summer.

 

actually me while sipping tea:

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