'Cheese challenge': Viral hilarity or just plain cruel?
The so-called ‘cheese challenge,’ in which people record themselves throwing slices of cheese at unsuspecting toddlers, is leading to viral videos and a sizable backlash from people who consider the practice cruel. (@anjel_ine via Storyful)
The newest craze sweeping the internet is considered funny by some, cruel by others, and likely downright bizarre by most.
The so-called ‘cheese challenge’ has exploded in popularity in recent days, with new examples and commentary being posted to Twitter on almost a minute-by-minute basis over the weekend.
But scanning through the tweets reveals that in addition to the videos and jokes one would expect from such a viral sensation, there is also a sizable backlash from people calling the challenge mean-spirited and unfunny.
The craze appears to be able to trace its origins back to Feb. 26, when Charles Amara of Macomb, Mich., posted a video to Facebook of himself throwing a slice of processed cheese at his young son, who was sitting in a high chair. The video ends with the cheese resting on the face of the boy, who appears to be somewhat uncomfortable with the situation.
The video’s popularity exploded two days later, when it was posted to Twitter by user @unclehxlmes. In an unlikely twist – particularly for the internet – @unclehxlmes deleted his tweet once it went viral, evidently because he had never intended for it to be seen by a large number of people.
“I deleted it because it genuinely got way out of hand,” he wrote by way of explanation, noting that news agencies in the U.K. and U.S. had been asking him for permission to use the video.
“It was very invasive for the family and I would like to apologize.”
A screenshot posted by @unclehxlmes suggests that his tweet had been viewed more than 10 million times and liked more than 750,000 times before he pulled it down.
The deletion and apology did nothing to dissuade the social media hivemind from creating cheese challenge videos of its own.
Many of the videos follow a similar pattern, with a cheese slice being thrown at the face of an unsuspecting toddler. The toddlers often appear to be unfazed or confused by what is happening to them, while the older people in the room seem to find the whole thing hilarious.
The contrast between amused adults (or older children) and nonplussed youngsters has led to a significant volume of anti-cheese challenge voices, with many Twitter users calling out the entire concept as ridiculous at best and potentially abusive at worst.
The entire sensation seems reminiscent of last fall’s ‘dog cheese challenge,’ which inspired similar videos and did not receive as much criticism.