The translocalism of Hong Kong popular culture: An analysis of a critical Internet meme co-created across Hong Kong and China

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Abstract

This study aims to analyze and demonstrate the translocalism of Hong Kong popular culture through uncovering the sociopolitically alternative characteristics of an Internet meme that traveled across Hong Kong and China. In the theoretical sections, I explain how the culture-based concept of “translocalism” differs from the geography-based concept of “translocality,” review current studies that discuss the translocal characteristics of Hong Kong popular culture, introduce relevant international studies of Internet memes, critique current studies of Hong Kong memes, and provide an overview to the context of translocal meme-making across Hong Kong and China. In my empirical analysis, I examine a very popular Internet meme named “sorry, being wealthy really lets one get away with anything,” originally invented by Hong Kong netizens in 2014 and widely used and popularized in China in 2017 and 2018. Since 2018, Hong Kong netizens accepted the Chinese enhancement and used it broadly in Hong Kong’s social media. This meme illustrates how an originally Hong Kong-based cultural item successfully traveled across borders without the help of established institutions or groups, how Chinese co-creators contributed to enriching its usage and meaning significantly, and how the meme’s critical social value was enhanced with translocal co-creation. This study’s data were primarily collected from online sources and secondarily from informal interviews with meme-users. I traced numerous instances of the use of this meme to find out how netizens used and developed it between 2014 and 2019.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalHong Kong Studies
Volume3
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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