One of the weird off-shoots of our interconnected digital age is that anybody can pick a fight with anybody. And this is true not just for celebrities sniping each other over awards snubs, but for groups as disparate as anime nerds and the terrorist group ISIS. No, seriously, anime nerds are going after the terrorist group ISIS, and they're using a super-kawaii mascot named ISIS-chan to do it.
ISIS-chan was created early this year on the largest Japanese bulletin board 2ch, where users had previously, perhaps in response to the ISIS murder of two Japanese citizens, uploaded images of ISIS terrorists photoshopped into various animes as a way of subverting the group's online presence. ISIS-chan remains popular on Japanese social media and image boards, but has only recently been catching on Europe and the Americas.
According to Jose Pagliery's article on CNN Money, "Anime nerds trying to Google bomb ISIS," the ISIS-chan mascot "wears the terrorist group's black clothing. She has green eyes and dark hair. She's 19. And if she's holding a knife, it's only because she loves to slice and eat delicious melons." Beyond the utter weirdness of it all, ISIS-chan functions as traditional satire. Creators of the various ISIS-chan memes are simply attempting to make a group that bases so much of itself on fear and intimidation, into something ridiculous.
And the protest goes even further than that. The members of the ISIS-chan movement, along with efforts from Anonymous, have been flooding the accounts of Twitter users that are sympathetic to ISIS with pictures of ISIS-chan. Via Brian Ashcraft on Kotaku, "this is about message control and battling propaganda and fear with memes by reducing ISIS to anime characters."
There are further efforts underway to get ISIS-chan popular enough so that a Google image search for the term "ISIS" will only turn up a bunch of images of the adorable mascot, instead of, you know, terror and beheadings. Pagliery notes that the group organizing the campaign has rules. "No insulting Islam -- or showing its religious symbols. Always respect images of hostages. No gore. No porn."
This actually isn't that crazy of a strategy. ISIS has a sophisticated propaganda apparatus that includes online and social media efforts. Upending the efforts of such a vile group is a noble, worthwhile goal, even if the method of doing so is a little baffling.