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Pop-cultural references abounded, including — like pretty much every other comedy released that year — a parody of The Matrix.
Disney had always vehemently denied rumors about hidden, X-rated jokes in its films. The crass, "edgy" jokes feel like a grade-schooler desperately posturing by repeating bad words he overheard from an older cousin.
Invaluable internet meme encyclopedia Know Your Meme tracks Shrek's unlikely rise to internet infamy to 2010 — around the time Forever After hit theaters — when a Deviant Art comic pairing Shrek with the Sonic the Hedgehog character Shadow the Hedgehog went viral.
The years that followed sparked a boomlet of ironic appreciation for Shrek, resulting in hundreds of memes: awful puns, half-assed Photoshops, bizarre fan fiction, and a horror video game in which Shrek stalks the player through a swamp. The most notorious — the X-rated, undeniably horrifying story "Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life" — went viral in its own right, and gave the internet's weird Shrek movement its rallying cry.
(Myers disputes the figure.) But when Shrek finally arrived, all the trouble of its production proved to be worth it.