NATOWave refers to a series of pro-NATO memes, including music remixes and photoshops using NATO-related imagery, videos and audio edited with a vaporwave aesthetic, comparable to other synthwave movements like fashwave. NATOWave began with a music remix posted to YouTube in February 2021 and became increasingly popular during the 2022 Russian-Ukraine conflict, particularly on the r/NATOWave subreddit, 4chan, YouTube and Twitter.
The earliest known post using the term "NATOWave" is a YouTube video posted by Schizo Pilled on February 19th, 2021 titled, "N A T O W A V E" (shown below). The video features the song "Little Dark Age" over war footage, particularly of fighter jets and tanks, edited with a VHS-like vaporwave aesthetic. The video gained over 22,700 views in a year.
On April 19th, 2021, the r/NATOWave subreddit was created. That day, user LEFTOID_DESTROYER created a lounge post to discuss the subreddit's intentions and use. The subreddit is used to share pro-NATO memes and vaporware mixes in the vaporware aesthetic. For example, on April 29th, 2021, Redditor GMMestimator posted a photoshop to /r/NATOWave of the NATO council, gaining over 410 upvotes in a year (shown below, left). On May 3rd, Redditor 420thWarCrime posted a photoshop of a NATO aircraft carrier with the text, "CHINA WILL NOT TAKE TAIWAN" overtop, gaining over 500 upvotes in a year (shown below, right).
NATOWave memes became increasingly popular during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, including on the subreddit r/NonCredibleDefense. On March 6th, 2022, r/NonCredibleDefense user Blazing_The_Trail posted a NATOWave meme, gaining over 7,000 upvotes in a month (shown below).