Watch: Meme Master Evan Ross Katz Talks 'White Lotus,' Gay Twitter Synergy

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday March 18, 2023
Originally published on March 17, 2023

Evan Ross Katz
Evan Ross Katz  (Source:Screenshot/Variety)

Social media guru, author, and podcaster Evan Ross Katz shared the stage with Variety's Adam Vary at SXSW to talk about the making of memorable memes — from beautiful butt shots to Aubrey Plaza reactions — and explain the moment he knew "The White Lotus" was something special for gay Twitter.

"Recently, following the premiere of 'The White Lotus,' the social media savant has developed a reputation of 'meme-ing' and posting Instagram recaps following the Sunday night episodes," Variety reported.

After his introduction by Vary as having authored a book, hosted various podcasts, and written for The Advocate, GQ, Rolling Stone, and other outlets — as well as being "a social media wizard" — Vary asked Katz, "Evan, when did you first realize that the show was becoming a big thing on social media?"

Katz pinpointed a moment in the first season when "Euphoria" actor Sydney Sweeney, playing the part of spoiled teenager Olivia, asked her father (Steve Zahn) — who was having a moment of identity crisis, thinking he might be gay — "if he would be a bottom if he was gay, and gay Twitter really lapped that one up, and that was, I think, the first moment that I was like, 'Oh, this show has a life cycle outside of just its presence on television.'"

Katz observed that "the show's social media presence emerged within a culture 'that is so often apathetic or hate-watch prone,'" Variety relayed. "Katz added, 'There was something about it where it felt like a family like a fan community coming together to show love for this thing that we all not only admire, but we super admire.'"

Asked about his gift for knowing what moments from the show are "meme-able," Katz said that he's "always thinking about gay Twitter first," and noting that "gay Twitter is one of those places where there's a lot of conversations that begin and you sort of like you test drive the conversation on Twitter, and you're like, what do we think collectively? Does this have legs? Is this funny?"

Like any gay fan, some of the decisions for memes drawn from Season 2 came down to the critical question: "Do you want that Aubrey Plaza reaction? Or do you want her lips a little bit more pursed?"

"It was a very joyous process," Katz went on to add.

Inevitably, the ethics of sharing images of actors in the buff came up, with Katz pointing out that, "especially with Adam DiMarco and Leo Woodall in Season 2, you get a lot of butt content — thankfully."

Katz was gentlemanly about sharing those images. "I would message them in advance," Katz said, "and I would just get their consent," because, he explained, from the actors' point of view, "You do a nude scene in the context of the work, but you're not doing a nude scene in the hope of seeing your butt all over social media the next day."

Watch the half-hour-long exchange below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.