Earlier this week, Elliot Tebele, who has 500,000 followers on his Instagram account "@f--kjerry," shared a photo that echoes the recent trend of mocking the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge -- but this one also carried a racist message.
The photo in question depicts a heavy black woman eating a bucket of KFC fried chicken with the caption, “Bucket Challenge” attached. Presumably, the image plays on the tired stereotype that black Americans like to eat fried chicken. While some may see the post as racist, Tebele’s followers have embraced it – liking it more than 37,000 times. It's a surprising absence of criticism: The majority of the comments are positive ones, where users poke fun at the campaign that has dominated social media circles since June.
“To be completely honest with you the fact that the girl is heavyset and/or African-American didn't even cross my mind when I posted it,” Tebele told International Business Times in an email about the photo. “The only factor of importance to me was that they switched a water bucket for a KFC bucket. I thought that was hilarious.”
And so did a good percentage of his followers.
Similar photos of black women eating buckets of KFC chicken with the hashtag #KFCBucketChallenge have been circulating on Twitter and Instagram:
— Jay Watkins (@JayWatkins83) August 21, 2014
“I see the ice bucket challenge all over [Instagram]. Honestly, in my opinion, I (sic) think its stupid. but here is a lil humor over the stupidity of it all,” one user wrote in a caption to a similar meme Tebele posted.
If someone is challenged to do the Ice Bucket Challenge by a family member or friend, they have 24 hours to either pour a bucket of ice water on their heads, donate to the ALS Association or both. So far, the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised more than $40 million and garnered the attention of celebrities, athletes and politicians including former President George W. Bush who shared his squeal online.
Just like anything that’s trending – regardless of the reason – the Internet has found a way to make fun of it. Not all have been offensive, and some point the legitimate problems of wasting gallons upon gallons of water when so much of the world is facing a drought.
Some use stills from popular films like “Titanic” and “Zoolander” to show that the campaign is “so hot right now.” Others have used popular meme subjects like “Bad Luck Brian” – a high school photograph of a “nerdy” teenage boy wearing a plaid sweater vest and braces -- to show how dunking large quantities of freezing water on top of people’s heads may lead to diagnosis of the disease itself.
Others highlight the problematic logic of wasting clean water in order to avoid donating to charity.
— ❤Stella Rivas❤ (@Stella_Bella98) August 20, 2014
Actor Orlando Jones has suggested an Ice Bucket Challenge alternative. In wake of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, he launched the “Bullet Bucket Challenge” where he poured a tub of shell casings over his head to represent all the lives lost to gun violence.
“I wanted to do what ALS did, co-opt a viral thing and make it my own, to talk about the insanity happening in Ferguson and just around the world,” Jones told Fusion. While others have yet to imitate Jones’ act, his YouTube video has been viewed more than 53,000 times and is shared numerous times on Twitter.