It started with a simple, innocent tweet, but now ‘Milkshake Duck’ has been officially recognised by a real-life dictionary as their word of the year.
Macquarie Dictionary today gave it the honours as their word of 2017, after it was first thought up by Twitter user @pixelatedboat back in June 2016.
But what does it actually mean? It sounds like it’s just a nonsense phrase? Well, yeah, it is, but let us explain. ‘Milkshake Duck’ has essentially come to represent a phenomenon which keeps happening on the internet, where someone shoots to fame, before being shot down almost as quickly when it’s discovered they are somehow problematic.
It might be that they have done something bad in their past, or hold racist, sexist or homophobic views - anything that might get you ‘cancelled’, basically.
Here is the original tweet:
The whole internet loves Milkshake Duck, a lovely duck that drinks milkshakes! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you the duck is racist— popular comedy account “the pixelated boat” (@pixelatedboat) June 12, 2016
So the ‘Milkshake Duck’ represents a nice thing the internet has all fallen in love with, before the slightest bit of digging has revealed the duck, unfortunately, is a racist.
Macquarie has decided to define it as: “A person who is initially viewed positively by the media but is then discovered to have something questionable about them which causes a sharp decline in their popularity.”
There have been countless examples since the tweet first appeared, but a particularly notable recent example was Keaton Jones, the bullied teenager who celebrities rallied behind after his mum posted a video of him crying in the car after school, describing how other children had been making his life miserable.
The mother set up a crowdfunding page for him, however, it didn’t take long until people unearthed numerous racist Facebook posts she had uploaded, as well as photos of the family with the Confederate flag.
Another example is Ken Bone, a man who became an internet hero when he asked a question during a televised US election debate.
However, Reddit users then discovered he had a past of commenting on erotic subreddits, and that he argued the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012 was justified.
2017 and 2018 feel like particularly appropriate times for the rise of the ‘Milkshake Duck’, what with the #MeToo movement rightly calling out men for sexual assault, with Aziz Ansari the latest to be accused.
The only problem with the word from @pixelatedboat’s perspective, well…
It's terrifying that I created a meme that will destroy me when I inevitably do a problematic tweet. Milkshake Duck is my sword of Damocles— popular comedy account “the pixelated boat” (@pixelatedboat) June 14, 2017
The phrase just missed out on being named Oxford Dictionaries’ word of 2017, with them eventually plumping for ‘youthquake’ over the likes of ‘broflakje’ and ‘antifa’ which also made the shortlist.
’Youthquake’ is defined as: “A significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.”
It was chosen off the back of youth support in both the UK and New Zealand elections causing a surge in the popularity of left-wing candidates, although, we have to be honest, we’ve never actually heard anyone say it.