Men were once raised to believe that society preferred the strong, silent type; that they were to remain stoic at all times, keeping complex emotional anxieties simmering beneath the surface. Currently, however, with confessional, soul-baring music from the likes of Kanye West and Frank Ocean topping charts and movies like I Love You, Man becoming hits, the paradigm has shifted. It’s perfectly fine for dudes to express their fears and empathize with each other. There’s even been a popular meme celebrating (and perhaps gently mocking) this trend; a meme that’s found its best possible treatment in a series by artist Chris Gerringer.
The “I Know That Feel, Bro” meme has been around for the last couple years or so. In Gerringer’s series, the meme is used to illustrate the mostly unexamined inner pain of some pop cultural icons.
Both Harry Potter and Batman, for instance, lost their parents at a young age and therefore just might feel each other’s pain, hypothetically. Similar connections are explored, such as the literal blueness of both Watchmen‘s Dr. Manhattan and Arrested Development’s Tobias Funke (in his Blue Man Group getup). Drawn in a playfully condensed style, each of the figures in the series–no matter how heroic they might normally be in their element–are little needy creatures yearning to connect. Just like most of us.
Have a look through more images in the slide show above.