A Brief History of The Honey Badger Meme

In light of the PBS Nature documentary on the honey badger airing tonight, some background on 2011's favorite viral video

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If you started watching the “Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem” episode of the PBS Nature series tonight, then you may be tempted to spend a commercial break re-watching the viral video that popularized the animal (Mellivora capensis).

People who spend too much time on the Internet will probably consider the TV documentary about “nature’s bad ass” to be a fact-check of the popular 2011 YouTube video, in which an actor who goes by “Randall” reportedly dubs a 2007 National Geographic special with sassy commentary. The narrator’s basic thesis is that “the honey badger don’t care,” and to prove it, he points to examples like, “Here’s a house full of bees. you think the honey badger cares? It doesn’t give a s*** . It goes right into the house of bees to get some larva…Ew, that’s so nasty…it’s hungry, it doesn’t care about being stung by bees.”

Now, the clip has racked up more than 65.6 million views on YouTube and has spawned a book, mobile apps, and sparked rumors about a possible TV series. Randall’s depiction of the honey badger has appeared in a Wonderful Pistachios commercial during Dancing with the Stars, has been name-dropped by Glee’s infamous cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), and has been referenced in a Vogue profile of Taylor Swift, who has memorized the video’s dialogue. Even “Randall” himself compared Arizona Cardinals football player Tyrann Mathieu to the honey badger when he was playing for LSU because of his fearlessness on the field: “He just takes whatever he wants and nothing is going to stop him,” the actor said in an AP interview, according to The Washington Post

Plus, a honey badger at the Johannesburg Zoo in South Africa would not be regularly live-tweeting sassy comments if Randall’s video had not gone viral. Think Randall’s honey badger would consider him competition? He “don’t care.”