Item Details

The Momo Challenge: Exploring the Emergence of a Major Online Demonic Hoax

Issue: Vol 33 No. 4 (2020) ADVANCE ACCESS TO FORTHCOMING ARTICLES

Journal: Journal for the Academic Study of Religion

Subject Areas: Religious Studies Buddhist Studies Islamic Studies Biblical Studies

DOI: 10.1558/jasr.41907

Abstract:

From 2018–2019, the spectre of Momo haunted the internet. Momo is depicted as a gaunt Japanese woman with long black hair, an enlarged mouth, and bulbous, haunting eyes. Allegedly, Momo responds to those who text her phone with violent imagery and explicit threats. She also encourages children to self-harm and shows them triggering images of gore, sometimes interspersed amidst innocent cartoons. Of course, Momo is not real and no one has hurt themselves in response to her ‘challenges’. From the start, Momo was very clearly a novel urban legend whose influence was magnified in the popular press and by their deeply-held suspicion of internet predators, peer pressure, and an online world in which technology makes any kind of sinister attack possible. Momo is thus an important case study in establishing the recent history of online demon fear, which feeds into broader trends surrounding ‘Satanic panic’ gateways into the occult. This article positions Momo as the latest manifestation of a fear that children are especially susceptible to evil, and that parents must remain vigilant to the corrupting forces of the demonic.

 

Author: Zoe Alderton

View Original Web Page

References :

Adejobi, A. 2019 Stacey Solomon terrified of ‘Momo Challenge’ for her children’s safety. Metro, 27 February. Online: https://metro.co.uk/2019/02/27/ stacey-solomon-terrified-momo-challenge-sons-safety-police-warning-suicide-game-8762585/

Alderton, Z. 2018 The Aesthetics of Self-Harm: The Visual Rhetoric of Online Communities. Routledge, Abingdon.

AlmightySosa00 2018 Reddit /r/Creepy, 10 July. Online: https://www.reddit.com/r/creepy/comments/8xq0ap/_/

BBC News 2019a Momo challenge: ‘Freaky game’ described as hoax. BBC News, 28 February. Online: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-47359623

2019b Momo challenge: The anatomy of a hoax. BBC News, 28 February. Online: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-47393510

Buenos Aires Times 2018 Police suspect 12-year-old girl’s suicide linked to WhatsApp terror game Momo. Buenos Aires Times, 25 July. Online: https://web.archive.org/web/20180821003815/http:/www.batimes.com.ar/news/argentina/ police-suspect-12-year-old-girls-suicide-linked-to-whatsapp-terror-game-momo.phtml

Channel Mum 2019 The Momo Challenge: How to Talk to Your Kids About It. Channel Mum, 27 February. Online: https://www.channelmum.com/a/momo

Chess, S. 2012 Open-Sourcing Horror: The Slender Man, Marble Hornets, and Genre Negotiations. Information, Communication & Society 15(3): 374–93. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2011.642889

Clark, N. 2019 Government is ‘extremely concerned’ about Momo challenge, Andrea Leadsom says. The Sun, 28 February. Online: https://www.thesun. co.uk/news/brexit/8530967/government-is-extremely-concerned-about-momo-challenge-andrea-leadsom-says/

Cohen, S. 2011 [1972] Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers. Routledge, Abingdon.

Dellinger, A. 2019 Viral hoax Momo is getting its own movie. Engadget, 10 July. Online: https://www.engadget.com/2019/07/10/ momo-challenge-movie-orion-pictures/

Drewett, Z. 2019 Police warn on Momo ‘suicide game’ after boy, 8, told to put knife to his neck. Metro, 26 February. Online: https://metro.co.uk/2019/02/26/ police-warning-momo-suicide-game-boy-8-told-put-knife-neck-8753358/

El Deadpool 2018 Le mando mensajes a momo ‘numero maldito de whatsapp’. YouTube, 10 July. Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cI3Mg_kdJNQ

El Rincón De Giorgio 2018 AGREGO A MOMO AL WHATSAPP Y ESCUCHA MIS AUDIOS!! *+81 3 4510 2539*. YouTube, 13 July. Online: https://www.youtube.com/ channel/UCDZsyOkn-WTiTwgAvZSQ_cg

flamethrowerjd 2019 Momo, Peppa the pig, and your child when you step out of the room. Twitter, 1 March. Online: https://twitter.com/flamethrowerjd/ status/1101243755213082624

Foster, M. D., and K. Shinonome 2015 The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Herrman, J. 2019 Momo Is as Real as We’ve Made Her. New York Times, 2 March. Online: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/02/style/momo-mania-hoax. html

Hughes, S. 2017 American Monsters: Tabloid Media and the Satanic Panic, 1970–2000. Journal of American Studies 51(3): 691–719. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021875816001298

itopronet 2015 怨念ガールズ アパートメント 〜秘密の花園 内覧会〜. YouTube, 20 May. Online: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkJZ2RWRSvWniYzrJnlDtxA

Josephson, J. Ā.# 2012 The Invention of Religion in Japan. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

j_s_rock 2016 台風だから幽霊の絵見てきた幽霊はいいぞ. Instagram, 23 August. Online: https://www.instagram.com/p/BJafZIwjD-r/

Kelly, T. 2019 People are trying to make Momo a positive meme. The Daily Dot, 28 February. Online: https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/momo-memes/

Know Your Meme 2019a Momo Challenge. 11 July. Online: https://knowyourmeme.com/ memes/momo-challenge

2019b Momo Challenge: Image Gallery. Online: https://knowyourmeme. com/memes/momo-challenge/photos

Le Monde 2018 « Momo challenge »: Un père porte plainte contre YouTube, WhatsApp et l’Etat. Le Monde, 5 November. Online: https://www.lemonde.fr/ police-justice/article/2018/11/05/momo-challenge-un-pere-porte-plainte-contre-youtube-whatsapp-et-l-etat_5379254_1653578.html

Lewis, J., and P. Freshwater 2019 Everything you need to know about the Momo Challenge. Grimsby Telegraph, 27 February. Online: https://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/ news/local-news/momo-challenge-suicide-game-help-2590535

Lewis, S. 2019 Kim Kardashian warns parents of ‘Momo challenge’, but YouTube says it sees no evidence. CBS News, 28 February. Online: https:// www.cbsnews.com/news/kim-kardashian-warns-parents-of-momo-challenge-youtube-take-action/

Link Factory 2019 19/9/13 〜 9/29LINK FACTORY presents「怨念ガールズレボリュー ション. Facebook, 8 September. Online: https://www.facebook.com/245098212249692/photos/a.2425384934220998/2425384900887668

Luxumberger Wort 2018 ‘Momo Challenge’: Kein Fall in Luxemburg. Luxumberger Wort, 6 November. Online: https://www.wort.lu/de/lokales/ momo-challenge-kein-fall-in-luxemburg-5be1c22d182b657ad3b98ef8

MacDonald, K. 2019 Parents: Don’t panic about Momo—worry about YouTube Kids instead. The Guardian, 28 February. https://www.theguardian.com/ commentisfree/2019/feb/28/parents-momo-scare-youtube-kids

Martin, A. 2019 Japanese artist behind ghastly creature in viral ‘Momo Challenge’ baffled by disturbing hoax. The Japan Times, 6 March. Online: https:// www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/06/national/social-issues/ japanese-artist-behind-ghastly-creature-viral-momo-challenge-baffled-disturbing-hoax/

Mayer, F. H., and Y. Kunio 1952 ‘Yanagita Kunio’: Japanese Folk Tales. Folklore Studies 11(1): i–97. https://doi.org/10.2307/1177324

Mirror Now 2018 Momo challenge claims first life in India, Class 10 student commits suicide in Ajmer. Mirror Now, 22 August. Online: https://web.archive. org/web/20180822135419/https://www.timesnownews.com/ mirror-now/in-focus/article/momo-challenge-claims-first-life-victim-india-class-10-student-commits-suicide-ajmer-rajasthan/272664

Moore, M. 2019 BBC conceals how it fell for Momo hoax. The Times, 1 March. Online: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ bbc-conceals-how-it-fell-for-momo-hoax-js77fk0bg

National Online Safety 2019 Today we’ve heard from hundreds of concerned schools and parents about the horrifying #Momo challenge. Twitter, 27 February. Online: https://twitter.com/natonlinesafety/status/1100453894814158848

NDTV 2018 After Two Deaths, Bengal Grapples with Suicide Game ‘Momo Challenge’. NDTV, 26 August. Online: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/after-two-deaths-bengal-grapples-with-suicide-game-momo-challenge-1906357

N’Duka, A. 2019 Lance Reddick Joins ‘Faith Based’; Rapper YG Cast in ‘Tuscaloosa’. Deadline, 14 May. Online: https://deadline.com/2019/05/lance-reddick-faith-based-rapper-yg-tuscaloosa-getaway-horror-film-cast-1202614920/

nexpoyt 2019 I’m on a mission to turn this Momo thing around. Twitter, 1 March. Online: https://twitter.com/nexpoyt/status/1101217318816940033

Notopoulos, K. 2019 How Momo Went from Viral Hoax to Viral Hottie. Buzzfeed Newpaper, 6 March: 3.

O’Malley, K. 2019 Momo ‘challenge’ appearing in Peppa Pig YouTube videos, parents are warned. The Independent, 27 February. Online: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/momo-challenge-youtube-fortnite-peppa-pig-video-parents-a8799776.html

Papp, Z. 2010 Traditional Monster Imagery in Manga, Anime and Japanese Cinema. Global Oriental, Leiden.

Partridge, C. 2004 Alien Demonology: The Christian Roots of the Malevolent Extraterrestrial in UFO Religions and Abduction Spiritualities. Religion 34(3): 163–89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.religion.2004.04.014

Partridge, C., and E. S. Christianson (eds) 2009 Introduction. In The Lure of the Dark Side: Satan and Western Demonology in Popular Culture, 1–22. Equinox, Sheffield.

Pendergrast, M. 2017 The Repressed Memory Epidemic: How It Happened and What We Need to Learn from It. Springer Science+Business Media, Berlin.

Photoshop Contest #115: Enter for a Chance to Win $25 2019 EBaum’s World, 28 February. Online: https://www.ebaumsworld. com/contests/photoshop-contest-115-enter-for-a-chance-to-win-25/85899506/

Reider, N. T. 2010 Japanese Demon Lore: Oni, from Ancient Times to the Present. Utah State University Press, Logan.

2015 A Demon in the Sky: The Tale of Amewakahiko, a Japanese Medieval Story. Marvels & Tales 29(2): 265. https://doi.org/10.13110/marvelstales.29.2.0265

ReignBot 2018 Exploring the Momo Situation. YouTube, 11 July. Online: https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jLuF0OQZ-g&bpctr=1574735608

Reilly, J. 2019a Momo is Dead: Momo ‘suicide’ puppet maker says kids shouldn’t fear horrifying beast because it’s been destroyed insisting ‘the curse is gone’. The Sun, 3 March. Online: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8551299/ momo-dead-suicide-challenge-game-statue-killed/

2019b ‘You should die’: Momo creator reveals he and other Japanese artists received death threats over ‘suicide’ puppet. The Sun, 3 March. Online: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8553203/ momo-creator-japanese-artists-death-threats-suicide/

Ruffin, A. 2019 I’m taking Momo back. Twitter, 1 March. Online: https://twitter.com/ ambermruffin/status/1101157375543832577

Samuelson, M. 2019 I gave #Momo a makeover so everyone can just relax now. Twitter, 1 March. Online: https://twitter.com/merirsams/status/1101218350510891015

Simmons, L. 2013 The Perils of Shape Shifting: Harry Potter and Christian Fundamentalism. Pastoral Psychology 62(1): 53–68. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-012-0478-4

Sugiura, L., and A. Kirby 2019 Momo challenge shows how even experts are falling for digital hoaxes. The Conversation, 5 March. Online: http://theconversation.com/ momo-challenge-shows-how-even-experts-are-falling-for-digital-hoaxes-112782

Tarantola, A. 2019 Adults are the only ones who fell for the Momo hoax. Engadget, 5 March. Online: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/05/ adults-only-ones-fooled-momo-challenge-hoax/

Vanilla Gallery 2016 https://www.vanilla-gallery.com/img/archives/2016/20160815ab/ flier.pdf

Vonow, B. 2019a Girl, 7, banged her head against school walls after seeing Momo video. The Sun, 28 February. Online: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8529522/ girl-banged-head-school-walls-momo-video-challenge/

2019b Mums’ rage at sick Momo videos STILL appearing in YouTube Peppa Pig videos. The Sun, 1 March. Online: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8536746/ momo-game-youtube-peppa-pig-videos-still-appearing-mum-rage/

Waterson, J. 2019 Viral ‘Momo challenge’ is a malicious hoax, say charities. The Guardian, 28 February. Online: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/28/ viral-momo-challenge-is-a-malicious-hoax-say-charities

Williams, T. 2019a Fears Momo spread to Britain as boy tells friends creature would kill. Mail Online, 21 February. Online: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ article-6728427/Fears-Momo-spread-Britain-boy-tells-school-friends-creature-kill-them.html

2019b Terrified girl ‘hacked her own hair off after being caught up in Momo’. Mail Online, 27 February. Online: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ article-6752323/Terrified-girl-five-hacked-hair-caught-sick-Momo-challenge-online.html

Wojcik, J. 2019 The Real ‘Momo’... And the Grudge Girls! BOO-GLEECH. Online: https://www.bogleech.com/halloween/hall18-momo.html

yuzuko16 2019 仕事終わりの姑獲鳥先輩とタピオカ女子先輩がキャッキャウフフ してる所を撮らせてもらいました❤. Twitter, 17 September. Online: https://twitter.com/yuzuko16/status/1173929985255460874