Analysis of a Meme

To keep to my topic I wrote my research paper around, I chose to analyze a K-Pop meme. Upon first glance to anyone who doesn’t understand the context of the picture, it may raise some questions. Why is it being used as a meme? Why is there a presumably 10-year-old Chinese boy posing next to a gun that size? Why is he happy to be standing next to it?

I’ll break down the photo from the obvious parts. From the locations, the size of the gun, the casual attire, and the earmuffs on his ears, you can decipher that he’s out at a shooting range of some sorts. The lighting indicates that it’s during the day and the coloring of the photo shows that it’s quite modern and probably taken within the last 10 years (also the gun shows the modernity of the picture). The framing of the picture and where he is located in the forefront with the gun by his side just shows that he’s posing for a picture, probably being taken by one of his parents. The gun could be seen as threatening, especially when depicted at the hands of a small child.

The cultural part of it is what might get to most people that are seeing it for the first time without any context. Had I not known who it was, I would be almost shocked to see a small child next to a large gun and not find it amusing. As American’s, our traditions and views of guns can be and are significantly different from other countries views of said guns. Especially guns of that size. Upon seeing a small Asian child with a gun of that size, it may raise some questions: is it normal for children of that size in Asian countries to be around guns of that size? But this is an ignorant question considering children in America are also exposed to guns at such a young age.

The person depicted in this picture is none other than Zhong Chenle, a member of popular K-Pop group, NCT Dream. Born in Shanghai, China, Chenle started singing when he was very young. He was born to a wealthy family and grew up comfortably. He debuted in NCT Dream at the ripe age of 14 (almost 15) years old. Knowing his background and knowing who he is makes this picture make sense and also insanely hilarious to any fan of the group or performer. Since he comes from wealth, it makes sense that he’d be able to afford going to a shooting range and (based on generalizations), wealthy people are typically desensitized to guns. There is a series of pictures similar to this one with him holding other guns, so his parents putting him in front of these guns makes almost perfect sense.

This meme depends on the audience severely, as does most memes. Being a fan of the group makes it seem a lot funnier and makes a lot more sense as to why someone may find it funny. Pre-debut pictures are typically funny in K-Pop fandoms and Chenle’s are no exception. Memes of people always are seen as hilariously funny and when the person behind depicted is someone you idolize, a picture like this may be one of the funniest things in the world. The ominous side to it and that there was frankly no reason for him to be behind such a large gun (besides assumptions of his family background that can be made) when this picture surfaced on the Internet, make it even funnier to the viewer. The tone and feeling the odd picture emits makes for good conversation between fans and the boy, and good memes to arise online.

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