The #huhchallenge is juvenile, yet surprisingly inventive

Possibly the most intelligent of 2016 Internet sensations makes its debut


Throughout the past few weeks, the #huhchallenge has been trending on multiple social media sites

By Mark Lu

I n addition to being a fairly depressing year overall, 2016 has provided for the development of countless infantile Internet sensations.

To name one, the Cincinnati Zoo shooting of Harambe the gorilla has blossomed into a web-infused legacy of erotic gorilla Photoshop contests and Internet cartoons. Meme artists incorporate the use of Comic Sans, emojis and references to social predicaments and pop culture.

The presidential election and uneasy political atmosphere of 2016 has facilitated the growth of an unconventional brand of meme. Rather than an intellectual connection to individuals who consume this medium of comedy, these Internet cartoons feature boresome language manipulation rather than astute pantomime.

The latest of this year’s Internet products is the “‘Huh’ Challenge”, in which an individual takes a video of someone else, mocking them and ending with an elongated “huh” sound, the infamous noise of hopelessness and insecurity first made popular by a recording of a breakup call last year.

A compilation of “Huh” Challenge videos can be found here. They do contain strong language and references to adult material, so watch at your own discretion.

If one were to look at the surface of this challenge, they would see a pointless and unexplainable type of funny. However, dig a little deeper, and one would find an intellectually rigorous provocation that challenges both wit and quick thinking.

In the abstract of the essay “A new economy of jokes? #Socialmedia #Comedy,” author Skidmore College professor Rebecca Krefting states that “social media is giving rise to tribalism among like-minded comedy fans, which has an impact on audience composition and the content of comedy.”

Putting several inapt words together in an unusual manner to generate a “that’s stupid, but funny” reaction is one thing, but putting together a mentally adept insult that would yield an “oh, that’s clever” return is quite another.

The “Huh” Challenge is more than just an insult followed by a scintillating noise; it’s a mentally demanding task that features wit.

In summary, web humor seems to be stagnating in content. The “Huh” challenge defies this downward trend of Internet comedy and demands that the challenger think critically instead of stylistically, which is hugely important if we are to continue valuing today’s meme kingdom.