USC Digital Folklore Archives / Digital
Digital
Game

Cicada 3301

Informant:

 Zack was born in Boston Massachusetts and grew up in a house in rural Norwell Massachusetts in a secular family. His father is a musician and his mother a homemaker. Zack is a photographer who works with musicians and has traveled extensively both in his childhood following his father on tour and in his current occupation.

Original Script: “I learned about it on a web form from being posted to a form I was on. When they post a puzzle they basically come out and say solve this puzzle it will lead to the next riddle and so on and so forth. A lot of highly skilled cryptographers would sort of docu-blog on there progress as they were trying to figure out. The more they progress the more serious it began to seem, people where literarily flying places to solve clues, it was very Dan Brown. Most people who get close to solving disappear. Some people think they have succeeded and ended up requited into an intelligence organization. While it could be a hoax the difficulty of the challenges is genuine. It’s a total Mr. Robot”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Cicada 3301 is an Internet puzzles that appear mysteriously on various online chat forms annually. That focus on data security cryptography and steganography.

Context of the Performance: Annual online puzzle.

Thoughts about the piece: It seems to me that the Cicada 3301 is similar to the newer folkloric tales and myths that develop and are spread on the Internet. At the heart of this is the mistrust for the Internet and the mystery that comes with the anonymity one can find on the Internet. The informant is a member of multiple conspiracy theory forms that analyze myths, stories and other mysterious happenings so he is connected to forms that share stories like Cicada 3301.

Digital
folk metaphor
Humor

安利 Amway/Brainwash

This word is also a very popular phrase that has been widely used online for these couple years in China.
The word now means strongly recommending somebody to do something.
Usually the person who uses it personally likes the subject so much and therefore wants to share with others so badly.
The interesting thing is, the word itself actually originates from an American marketing company Amway, the sub company of which has a huge reputation for being overly persuasive when they try to sell their products in China. Then people started making fun of that company and using the word “安利” (Amway) as a verb instead of a noun to describe the behavior of strongly recommending others to try something.
Moreover, as the word has been widely spread on the Internet, it tends to mean more like “brainwash” when people use it for fun.
Digital
Folk speech
Humor
Proverbs
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

看颜值 Score of Face

“2016年人丑就要多读书,体胖就要多跑步,又丑又胖的童鞋们,读书和跑步这两项运动似乎都不大适合你,狗带吧!2016年讲段子也得看颜值了!”

“In the year of 2016, READ more if you were ugly, RUN more if you were a fat-ass. For those who are both ugly and fat, stop wasting your time, just GO DIE! In the year of 2016, you have to look good even for telling this kind of joke!”

The popular culture in China nowadays has an unusual spotlight on people’s face, and there is a standard look that pleases the majority people. Ironically, that standard is based on the look of western people. Many people there have spent lots of many to do the surgery in order to look more “beautiful,” which are stereotyped into big eyes, high nose, small face… This almost became a “must” standard for the majority to judge on others, they call it “Score of Face.”

I think this is a funny, ridiculous and creepy phenomenon that people want to fit the arbitrary standard of beauty, and eventually they almost all look the same.

 

 

 

Reference:

http://lizhi.shangc.net/a/201601/12159.html

Digital
Folk speech
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

王八蛋 Son of a bitch

A “wángbādàn 忘/王八蛋” is the offspring of a woman lacking virtue. Another meaning of 王八 is 鼈 biē, fresh-water turtle.[4] Turtle heads reemerging from hiding in the turtle’s shell look like the glans emerging from the foreskin, and turtles lay eggs. So a “wang ba” is a woman who has lost her virtue, and a “wang ba dan” is the progeny of such a woman, a turtle product, but, figuratively, also a penis product.

This profanity term has actually been widely used in China for many years, and it is a pretty offensive one to use. I find in both western and eastern culture, it is considered to be very offensive one when the subject is related to close family members.

 

Digital
Humor

吃土 Eat Dust

吃土 “Eat Dust” is a popular phrase that Chinese people started to use a lot on the Internet since 2015.

There are several different interpretations of this simple phrase:
1. the mostly recognized one is that people use it to make fun of themselves that they are too poor to buy food, so the only thing they could eat is the dust.

2. the word could also be used to attack other people, just like an euphemistic way to ask them to “eat shit.”

3. some video gamers use it because when their characters defeated in game, they will usually fall off and face to the ground, looks just like they’re eating the dust.

 

If we bring this cyber word to a lager context of real world Chinese society, this could also reflects the very imbalance of money holding right now in China. Even though it’s a decade that plenty of opportunities are coming up for people to make money, there are still a large amount of people in China don’t have a good living condition, whereas Internet becomes a perfect platform for them to release their stress.

 

Digital

MLG Remixes

The informant is a 19-year old college student.


 

BW: An MLG Remix is hard to explain.. It’s like,, making fun of the culture of like middle schoolers on Xbox Live, and everything around that. There are these gaming channels on Youtube that celebrate the highlights in a game of Call of Duty or Battlefield or something–usually CoD, and then set it to Dubstep music. MLG Remixes make fun of that by adding lots of really loud dubstep, a bunch of songs piled on top each other ’till you can’t even hear them… and also a bunch of other symbols and reoccurring.. “motifs” you can call them. Like Mountain Dew, Taco Bell, Snoop Dogg, smoking weed–they usually all show up in these MLG Remix videos. They’re meant to be funny too, like over-the-top, hyper-crazy, ironic.

What does MLG stand for?

BW: Major League Gaming. That’s the whole crowd that they make fun of, because they’re so serious about video games.


 

Various MLG Remixes:

 

Digital
Humor

Scooby Doom

Informant is a Facebook page that regularly posts memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on 1990’s & 2000’s American youth culture.

Scooby Doom

This particular post shows an early a classic image of cartoon characters Scooby-Doo & Shaggy, superimposed over popular 1993 video game Doom. Scooby-Doo was popular for children growing up in the 1990’s who would eventually go on to play these early computer games. By combining the two popular 1990’s mediums of entertainment, this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia for people who grew up in this era. Further, the contrast in the subject matter of Doom (a violent shooter), and Scooby Doo (a children’s cartoon) is funny.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Dixie Cup Ness

Informant is a facebook page that regularly posts memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on 1990’s & 2000’s American youth culture.

Dixie Cup Ness

This particular post shows Ness, a character known from successful Nintendo game ‘Super Smash Bros Melee,’ with a retro Dixie cup print on his clothes. By combining the popular 2001 video game character with the distinct folk pattern of 2000’s school cafeteria cups, this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Supernintendo Chalmers

Informant is a Facebook page that posts only memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on early 2000’s culture.

Supernintendo Chalmers

This particular post shows a Super Nintendo gaming console (1990), with a decal of Superintendent Chalmers of the popular TV show the Simpsons. The pun here is on the words ‘superindendent’ and ‘supernintendo.’ By combining the show known for its success in the 1990’s, with a 1990’s video game console , this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia for people who grew up in this era.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Flip Phone Accessories

Informant is a Facebook page that regularly posts memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on 1990’s & 2000’s American youth culture.

Flip Phone Accessories

This particular post shows an early 2000’s cell phone with an excessive amount of Pokemon accessories. Such accessories were a fad in the days of the flip-phone. The Pokemon attached to the phone are from the years 1996 to 2006, highlighting the target audience of this meme page. By combining the retro mobile phone with an excessive amount of once-trendy, Pokemon themed folk objects, this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia for people who grew up in this era.

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