I am about to do something which one really should never do, which is to say I’m about to reductively explain a meme. But you fools need it, apparently. To discuss the meme in question you first need to have seen this video that is floating around Twitter this week accompanied by quote tweets where people yell things like “I HATE IT” and “WTF” and “THIS IS GROSS.”
Go ahead. I’ll wait. It’s short. Please make sure to note the TikTok logo in the upper-left-hand corner. That’ll be important later.
Okay, cool. So what do you think you saw? A video in which a guy sticks out his hand, gestures at a woman with an open palm, and each time she comes running to place her face atop it? Yes, you did see that. Is that weird? Maybe. Dumb? Maybe. Sexist? Also maybe. But you need a little more context.
The context here comes from TikTok, the short-video app taking over the world. You see, there’s a meme on TikTok in which dogs rush to place their heads in their humans’ waiting hands. Look, see how much less creepy it is when it’s a dog chin instead of a human one.
But we’re not, as it turns out, done here. The morph from dogs to humans, if you dig a little deeper, is just one of many mutations this meme has undergone in the months since its inception. Further investigation reveals this particular bit is over a year old: It started back in February of 2018, when South Korean singer Junhyuk and actor-model Lee Jong-suk posted videos doing what became known as the #IAmYourValentine challenge. Here’s a compilation video. Look familiar?
That challenge morphed into the #FoolInLove challenge, which was basically the same thing — chin in an open palm — but goofier, because, you know, April Fool’s. And then turned to dogs, and then, as of this week’s viral Twitter video, back to humans.
The arc of chin in hand is something like those songs you sing with little kids about how there’s a hole in the bottom of the sea and each verse adds a new little bit to the chorus so by the end you’re breathlessly singing about how there’s actually a fleck on the speck, on the tail, on the frog, on the bump, on the branch, on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea. Except here the bump and the branch and the log are K-Pop stars, viral Asian social-media trends, puppies, American students, and freeboot video Twitter accounts. Whew.
At this point, tons of people online doing the hand-chin thing. It’s officially become A Thing. It’ll be a year, apparently, before the trend reaches American social-media audiences. (I assume Korean TikTok is already doing something weird or cool or both we’ll be into in 2020.)
Which brings us back to this week’s viral video. (Which, you should note, was reposted on Twitter by an account other than its creator and the creator’s TikTok handle has been cropped out of the frame so I truly have no idea who the two in the video are and I’m sorry about that.) Does it still seem sexist? Maybe. Does it still seem weird? Dumb? Also maybe. But that’s the internet for you, baby.