20 Years of 'All Your Base Are Belong To Us' | The Mary Sue
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It’s Been 20 Years Since “All Your Base Are Belong To Us”

Greetings, Gentlemen

videogame screen with cyborg guy saying "all your base are belong to us"

Brace yourself, millennials, we are getting old. The evidence is right here on the 20th, yes, TWENTIETH anniversary of the “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” video. Yes, the one we all waited minutes to load on our desktop computers with dial-up and 56k modems and laughed at in the early days of the wired world.

It was an internet meme before we even knew the word “meme” (or thought it was pronounced mee-mee”). Today internet fads and memes come and go within hours, but it’s worth remembering just how big “All Your Base” was.

But first … let us remember.

If somehow you have never seen this video and are asking “…what?” Let me explain briefly what it was and the impact it had. The “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” meme started, according to our good friends over at Know Your Meme, thanks to some very shoddy translation work on the 16-bit Sega video game Zero Wing. As early as 1998, the phrase was in use as a repeated inside joke on gaming boards like Rage Games and Zany Video Game Quotes. It was an early .gif and image macro, and mainly contained to a very small niche of the internet.

And then, things got weird. From Know Your Meme:

In June 2000, Overclock.org posted their Zero Wing Dub Project, featuring a dubbed version of the introduction with Wayne Newton’s voice. The video is among the first response videos to the phrase. On December 16th, 2000, Tribal War Forums[14] member Bad_CRC submitted a thread titled “All your base are belong to us,” featuring a quote from the opening sequence. In February 2001, Bad_CRC released a music video for a gabber remix of the song, which was also uploaded to Newgrounds[9] on February 16th, 2001.

To say that video took the young internet by storm is an understatement. As you can see in the tweet below, this got the attention of Time Magazine within two weeks.

To understand why this video got so popular so very fast, you need to understand the context of the internet in 2000. Again, we weren’t constantly online all the time (it was nice, honestly) and so the volume of sheer weirdness we saw daily was much lower. So … this was new. This was something we’d never seen before. Heck, Photoshop was new-ish and manipulated images were still extremely rare and cool! This stuff was novel and entertaining in a way that was pretty new.

I remember vividly the first time I saw this video. I was in my high school physics class. The physics teachers at my school were the “cool” teachers who had us do our finals at amusement parks, so them hooking up a computer to a projector to play this was in line for them. They had found this … thing on the internet and it was funny and cool and believe me, the entire school was making “all your base” jokes for weeks after, as it felt like the height of edgy humor. But it was also an early example of internet virality back when we had to download these videos directly and got most of our internet jokes through forwarded email chains.

It’s wild to me that it’s been 20 years since then. In some ways, it feels like this was yesterday, and this big part of my early internet life is still important and vital to me. It’s wild that there are people voting and in college who never lived in a world without “All Your Base.” And other the other hand, it does feel like this was an entire lifetime ago, a reminder of a simpler time. A time when all my base … belonged to someone else.

(via: Kate” Willært, Twitter, image: Screenshot)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.