So what’s the problem? Antoine Dodson possibly said it best when he famously told Good Morning America that he had a “hit on iTunes” but was still “in the projects” in 2010. Now, it’s not like this guy wrote a great American novel, right? Right. The problem is that internet celebrities and memes are now making up a greater part of our “culture” than ever — and for some of us, they are almost the entirety of it. We consume them: we watch their videos millions of times, we caption their images freely and exuberantly, and the mainstream is waking up to that. But mainstream companies and their ad companies aren’t playing for the same reasons — the mainstream is here to get paid. Many of the attendees whom I spoke to, once I talked to them long enough, mentioned that they weren’t really better off financially than they had been before creating whatever they created, or becoming a meme, or finding their little corner of celebrity. The problem with this model is not that the subjects of our internet culture aren’t profiting enough off of them: it’s that literally everyone else is. The companies who make ads to sell their phones, the massive websites which post them and sell highly profitable ads against them, the makers who create Nyan Cat scarves. These are often highly successful ventures with massive corporate structures behind them. Entire websites find their bread and butter in posting endless variations of Chuck Testa images, and it’s not just highly criticized sites like I Can Has Cheezburger; even CNN routinely gets in on the game these days. Chuck himself, is in many ways, a cash cow for plenty of websites, but he’s still running his taxidermy business, and told me flat out that he is “broke.”