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China Memes & Viral

Behind The “One Finger Selfie Challenge”

The One Finger Selfie Challenge, a new online trend, has got international media and netizens talking. After the A4 waist and iPhone 6 legs, another Weibo hashtag gives netizens an opportunity to show off their slender bodies.

Manya Koetse

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After the A4 waist and iPhone6 legs hype, there is a new online challenge in China and beyond where women share risque photos of themselves on social media. The ‘One Finger Selfie Challenge’ comes shortly after Alipay’s social platform sparked controversy in China for the flood of nude pictures. What is up with this nude selfie hype?

UPDATE: All images of the challenge in this article have been removed to stay in compliance with google’s policies, sorry for any inconvenience.

A new online trend has got international media and netizens talking. After the A4 waist and iPhone 6 legs, another Weibo hashtag gives netizens an opportunity to show off their slender bodies.

In the so-called One Finger Selfie Challenge, women take nude photos of themselves through a mirror while covering their private parts with just one finger.

The challenge was triggered by a manga illustration from anime artist Sky-FreeDom, who is active on multiple social media platforms.

 

WHERE IT ALL STARTED

“One finger is not enough to cover everything..”

 

The ‘One Finger Selfie’ manga was first posted August 15 of this year on Twitter, where it received over 1800 likes and 800 shares. A day later, the artist also posted it on Japanese online community Pixiv.

On Pixiv, Sky Freedom is known as “Sky” (スカイ). The artist, who describes himself as a Malaysian Chinese cartoonist, is also popular on Weibo as @Sky Freedom (253.170 followers), and has a following of 8580 on Twitter under the @sky_freedom_ handle.

When the ‘One Finger Selfie Challenge’ initially became trending after mid-November, the artist responded with a clear “Hahahahahaha!” on his Weibo account. When the trend spread to more countries like Russia and Australia by late November, the artist reacted surprised but seemed happy about the hype.

“This whole thing makes Sky happy as a child,” one of his fans commented.

Another Weibo user seemed disappointed: “I have tried it but this is not working for me, one finger is not enough to cover everything.”

 

ONE FINGER COVERS THREE SPOTS

“Why are you willing to sell your morals for a challenge?”

 

On Sina Weibo, girls are posting nude one finger selfies under the hashtag ‘One Finger Challenge’ (#单指挑战#) or ‘One Finger Covers Three Spots’ (#一指遮三点挑战#).

Although there are many pictures floating around Chinese social media, a great number were taken offline by the time of writing.

Sina Weibo does not allow ‘pornography’ or ‘illegal publications’ (扫黄打非) to be shared on its platform, although it not always clear what the boundaries are.

Many Weibo netizens seem happy with the picture trends. “These girls are pretty cool,” some netizens said.

When others complained that the girls all had small breasts, another commenter said: “They wouldn’t be able to do this challenge if their breasts were bigger.”

Some netizens could not appreciate the challenge: “I hope I won’t see these pictures again on my timeline. I am a bit older, and I don’t understand this hype. Why are you willing to sell your morals for a challenge?”, one female netizen said.

 

SOCIAL EXHIBITION

“Sending nudes is a way of getting attention and compliments to build self-confidence.”

 

The One Finger Selfie Challenge is just one among the many selfie trends that have come up on Chinese social media over the past year. There was the collarbone coin challenge, the iPhone6 leg trend, or the A4 waist hype – all big hypes that involved posting selfies with containing (partial) nudity.

Earlier this week, e-finance app Alipay sparked controversy when some of its newly introduced social groups turned into erotic platforms where women posted nudes of themselves.

Why is this kind of social exhibition so ubiquitous on (Chinese) social media? According to recent studies on selfie-sharing, the need to belong and the need for self-representation play an important role in this (Sorokowska et al 2016, 119).

With the sharing of nude selfies, exploring sexuality also plays a role besides the need to ‘fit in.’ Especially for women, sending nudes is a way of getting attention and compliments about their looks to help build self-confidence (ESRC 2016).

In Sexting and Cyberbullying (2014), Shaheen Shariff explains the phenomenon of nude female selfies in the context of popular culture, where powerful female celebrities are marketing the ‘modern woman’ as being strong and sexually assertive. Shariff points out that although many women might feel empowered by sharing their own sexualized images, they often do not realize that they are also sexually objectified through them (2014, 45-46).

But for many netizens, the One Finger Selfie Challenge is also just all about fun. Shortly after women posted their (nearly) nude selfies for the challenge, other netizens responded by interpreting the challenge in their own way, some girls posing with their clothes on. Some male netizens also posted pictures of themselves, many making fun of the challenge.

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“We’re blessed with this challenge on Weibo,” one male netizen responded. Another person said: “I’ve been practicing for half a day now, and did not manage to cover three spots with one finger, but I did manage to cover one spot with three fingers.”

– By Manya Koetse
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References

ESRC. 2016. “Why are young people sharing nude selfies?” Economic and Social Research Council, November 3 http://www.esrc.ac.uk/news-events-and-publications/news/news-items/why-are-young-people-sharing-nude-selfies/ [3.12.16].

Shariff, Shaheen. 2014 (2012). Sexting and Cyberbullying: Defining the Line for Digitally Empowered Kids. Cambridge University Press.

Sorokowska, A., Oleszkiewicz, A., Frackowiak, T., Pisanski, K., Chmiel, A., & Sorokowski, P. 2016. “Selfies and personality: Who posts self-portrait photographs?” Personality and Individual Differences, 90, 119–123.

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China History

Mourning Jiang Zemin, Weibo Turns Black and White

Since the rise of Chinese social media, Jiang Zemin became a recurring part of Chinese memes.

Manya Koetse

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Following the announcement that Jiang Zemin (江泽民), the former president of the PRC, has passed away, various Chinese online platforms have turned into ‘grey’ mode as a sign of mourning. Jiang Zemin died due to leukemia and organ failure. He was 96 years old.

Besides Weibo, the home page of major Chinese websites such as Baidu, Sogou, Taobao, Alipay, Xinhua, People’s Daily, The Paper, and many others all turned into black-and-white mourning mode on Wednesday.

Bilibili turns into grey mode on November 30.

Search engine Sogou also in black and white mode.

On Weibo, one post about Jiang Zemin’s passing received a staggering one million reposts and over two million ‘likes.’ The hashtag “Comrade Jiang Zemin Passed Away at the Age of 96 in Shanghai” (#江泽民同志在上海逝世享年96岁#) had received over 2,5 billion clicks by Wednesday night.

Jiang Zemin was appointed as President of the People’s Republic of China in 1993. In the years before, the former Shanghai Party chief already held official positions as the chairman of the Central Military Affairs Commission and general secretary of the Party. In 2003, Jiang Zemin retired and was replaced by Hu Jintao (Sullivan 2012).

Since the rise of Chinese social media, Jiang became a recurring part of Chinese memes. Jiang had created a wide group of online fans, who are commonly referred to as ‘toad worshippers’ as the online phenomenon of ‘worshipping’ Jiang Zemin is called mo ha (膜蛤), ‘toad worship’ (Fang 2020, 38). The entire phenomenon has become its own subculture that is called ‘mo ha culture’ (móhá wénhuà, 膜蛤文化).

What started as a joke – nicknaming Jiang a ‘toad’ due to his big glasses, signature pants, and wide smile, – became an actual online movement of people who were appreciative of Jiang Zemin.

They loved him, not only because the former leader spoke many languages and other talents, and because of his unique appearance, but mainly because he was not scared to show his emotions, was very expressive, and good at telling stories.

One famous example of this, is when Jiang Zemin got upset with a Hong Kong journalist in 2000 and told them off using three languages (link to video, also here). The much-repeated quote “too young, too simple, sometimes naive” comes from this noteworthy moment as Jiang told journalists that they still had a lot to learn, whereas he had gone through “hundred of battles,” saying “I’ve seen it all.” This also led to Jiang later being called ‘the Elder’ (长者) by netizens.

Another popular Jiang Zemin video is when he met with American journalist Mike Wallace in August of 2000 in Beidaihe. During the interview, the two discussed sensitive topics including the Falun Gong and Tiananmen protests. The interview reportedly was one of the longest ever between an American journalist and a Chinese head of state (watch here).

A study by Kecheng Fang (2020) about ‘China’s toad worship culture’ suggests that for many online fans of Jiang, the cult around him is apolitical, playful, and part of a shared digital cultural tradition.

For some, however, it does hold some political meaning to ‘worship’ Jiang, who only became a popular online meme around 2014, after Xi Jinping took power as a conservative strongman who is not as emotionally expressive. Fang describes how one meme creator said: “We couldn’t express our criticism through normal channels, so we turned to other indrect ways, including lauding Jiang’s personality and characteristics in various ways” (2020, 45).

Although Jiang became popular among younger Chinese on online platforms over the past decade, he was not necessarily that popular at the time of his leadership, and opinions vary on the legacy he leaves behind. Jiang continuously pushed for reform and opening-up after Deng Xiaoping’s rule.

As summarized by Foreign Policy, Jiang oversaw two crucial transitions that shaped and improved the lives of the people of China: “First, he peacefully guided his country out of the shadow of China’s founding revolutionaries, who had spent decades purging one another and at times caused great pain and sorrow for everyone else. Second, although hesitant at first, Jiang came to embrace the market economy.”

As various places across China have seen unrest and protests over the past few days, the announcement of Jiang’s death comes at a sensitive time.

Many on Chinese social media are burning virtual candles in memory of Jiang Zemin today. “I will fondly recall your style and manners,” some say.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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References:

Fang, Kecheng. 2020. “Turning a communist party leader into an internet meme: the political and apolitical aspects of China’s toad worship culture.” Information, Communication & Society, 23 (1): 38-58.

Sullivan, Lawrence R. 2012. Historical Dictionary of the Chinese Communist Party. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press. See page: 3-43, 208.

 

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China and Covid19

Chinese Students Are Making Their Voices Heard, from Nanjing to Xi’an

“Tonight is the night when students are flooding the internet,” some on Weibo said during a dark night filled with students’ bright lights.

Manya Koetse

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The Communication University of China in Nanjing (南京传媒学院, abbr. CUCN) is trending on Weibo on Saturday night, with one hashtag receiving over 180 million views on Weibo before 23:00 local time.

Students at the university gathered on Saturday evening, chanting slogans such as “long live the people” and turning on the lights on their phone as a tribute to victims of the fire in Urumqi.

Over the past few days, there has been ongoing unrest in various parts of China. The fire that occurred in Urumqi on November 24 triggered waves of anger online (read here), and at the same time there have also been other incidents that further intensified the anger, which some also took to the street.

Another incident that attracted a lot of online attention this week happened in the Shunde District of Foshan, Guangdong, on November 24. Online, the incident was referred to as a “stampede,” but the hashtag “Foshan Stampede” (#佛山踩踏#) was soon taken offline. According to China Daily, the incident happened when a crowd of people gathered at a Covid testing place in the Xincheng community of Leliu subdistrict at about 8:30 am. The situation became chaotic when people fell down due to the slippery ground, but nobody reportedly was injured.

Nevertheless, the incident surely did not help to calm the growing tensions, especially this week when we also saw protests and unrest at Foxconn in Zhengzhou and the third consecutive daily record for new Covid cases in mainland China following by local (semi-) lockdowns across the country.

Meanwhile, on Saturday night, Weibo flooded with comments in support of the students who stood up to make their voices be heard.

“I’m not there with you, but I’m there with you,” one commenter wrote, with others posting: “Brave young people. This society is no longer giving them a way to live. History is repeating itself. If we don’t do this now, it’s our children who will have to struggle.”

“CUCN come on!” some cheered, while others wrote: “We’re proud of you.”

Some screenshots claiming to come from people at the scene said that it was the students’ intention to show solidarity with the people who passed away in the Urumqi fire and those in Xinjiang who were treated unfairly in light of the ongoing lockdowns the region saw since August of this year.

An anonymous poster warned people not to believe rumors regarding the protest being a conflict between the school leadership and the students: “The school is protecting its students, although some on the internet would like you to believe otherwise.”

Lights at the CUCN scene were allegedly turned off to prevent students from being identifiable on videos and photos.

As soon as the live commenting section on the CUCN protests was shut down by Weibo, another topic came up before midnight.

Students at the Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts (西安美术学院) were also taking their anger to the campus streets, where they allegedly demanded for freedom amid Covid lockdowns.

One commenter wrote: “Tonight is the night when students are flooding the internet, their fire [torch] will burn forever, what a magnificent night!”

“The students are very brave, they are the first to stand up. I hope the workers will stand up, and finally, all people will stand up.”

Many people on Chinese social media posted references to La Jeunesse (New Youth), a Chinese literary magazine that was founded in 1915 by Chen Duxiu and also influenced China’s May Fourth Movement (sometimes referred to as the Chinese Enlightenment), which was all about the Chinese youth being the catalyst for transformation.

“You are the heroes of the awakening,’ others wrote.

Read more about the “11.24” unrest in China here.

For more articles on the Covid situation in China, check here. If you appreciate what we do, please support us by subscribing for just a small annual fee.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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