But some see a more troubling side of the Internet's fascination with Ramsey.
These observers say the Ramsey memes are reminiscent of the viral fame foisted upon people like Antoine Dodson ("Hide yo' kids/hide yo' wife") and Sweet Brown ("Ain't nobody got time for that") -- in other words, poor, black people in scary situations whose emotional reactions are turned into punchlines.
"It's difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform," Aisha Harris wrote Tuesday for Slate. "Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers living in the 'ghetto,' socially out of step with the rest of educated America."
Huh acknowledged that some viral takes on these instant celebrities are more tasteful than others. But he downplayed the importance of race for most viewers.
"I've seen this happen to every race, every color, every situation," he said. "They love this guy, not because he is some funny black man, but because he did something great and didn't walk away from a bad situation."
That said, Huh predicted that on the Web of 2013, Ramsey's appeal may fade more quickly than, say, that of Mr. Trololo or the "Double Rainbow" guy, because much of the reaction has grown predictable.
"It's almost like there's a cottage industry of people now trying to get famous by turning things into a meme," he said. "That kind of takes the fun out of it.
"Charles Ramsey is probably going to have a much shorter shelf life ... but one of the nice things about a story like this is we get to celebrate a person who did something good."