While First Time is often a reference to losing one’s virginity, “First Time?” the meme refers to a trending image macro circulating the internet in the late 2010’s.
The image stems from the 2018 western movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
A character in the movie played by actor James Franco is standing on the gallows with a rope around his neck, about to get hanged, when he sees another guy in the same situation next to him, crying.
He asks the crying guy: “First time?” to which the crier understandably responds “Huh?”
The meme is used as a reaction to situations that have been or should be unusual in society, but may happen more often than you’d think.
Origin of the meme
The trailer of Netflix movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was uploaded to Youtube in September 2018.
At the end of the trailer we see the short clip where James Franco says the humorous, iconic line, and within a few months the trailer received almost 2 million views.
In November the same year, user @Ayub_dz shared a cut from the scene on Twitter with the caption “When you’re hiding from a school shooter and the foreign exchange student starts crying.” and the subtitle being “First time?”
Spread of the meme
The new meme template spread to Reddit, and after being shared in the r/dankmemes sub, it took off.
Many versions take a dark humour perspective of modern political issues such as school shootings, anti-vaxxers, racism etc.
Others just depict silly scenarios, for example the version shared by Reddit user hunchoivs shared in November 2018, captioned “When you’re watching the new Lion King film and a six year old starts crying when Mufasa dies”, with the catchphrase as subtitle.