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The MOMO Challenge

Have you heard about this? If you are under sixteen, you probably have. I saw it on the local news. The “MOMO Challenge” is a viral phenomenon encouraging violent acts and suicide among young people. People are taking it seriously. Like I said, I saw it on the evening news. But here’s the thing: it’s a hoax. To be more precise, the challenge itself is a real thing, but the dangers associated with it have been greatly exaggerated. There have been no credible accounts of any violent activity or deaths linked to MOMO.

The image that appears as MOMO is actually a sculpture created by Italian special effects artist Keisuke Aisawa. (Just seeing if you were paying attention, there. Keisuke Aisawa is actually Japanese.) The image was stolen, and Aisawa has no involvement with the MOMO challenge. The sculpture itself represents an “ubume”, the ghost of a woman who died in childbirth and now carries around her dead infant in her arms, trying to trick passersby into holding it, at which point the child is transformed into a stone. Certainly it was also influenced by the Kuchisake-onna, or “slit-mouthed woman”, a frightening figure still reportedly encountered in Japan and other Asian countries.

The MOMO Challenge has been compared to the Slender Man phenomenon, which does make me wonder how long it will be before we see a crappy Slender Man vs. MOMO movie.

TheCheezman • December 21, 2018

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