If you believe Ellen DeGeneres taking a selfie with 11 of the world’s biggest movie stars was just Hollywood drivel and blatant marketing, you are probably right.
But she did spawn a meme that is now helping to draw the world's attention to the continuing struggle of protesters in Turkey, who are demanding greater democracy from their government.
On March 10, Ali Emre Mazlumoğlu tweeted a photo of 14 demonstrators crammed into the back of a police van. For their seemingly dire situation, they all appear as happy as if they were at the Oscars.
The photo has been shared thousands of times.
As the Independent pointed out, Ellen only managed to squeeze 12 faces into her photo taken at the Academy Awards, which set a world record for most shared image on Twitter (it has been retweeted nearly 3.4 million times), and won Samsung a major advertising coup.
Everyone from politicians to cartoon characters to athletes has jumped on the group selfie trend. But Turkey’s 14 protesters used it for a much greater purpose.
The photo has also spawned copycats, with a pair of Turks posting a follow-up photo of them grinning widely … with a line of riot police behind them.
Protests in Turkey, which first began nearly a year ago, reignited this week after the funeral of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan. The teen spent nearly nine months in a coma after getting hit by a tear gas canister during last summer’s marches.
Protesters in Turkey say they are fed up with corruption and repression from Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s government. Two more deaths in recent days have added fuel to the fire.
Commentary from Today’s Zaman, one of three English dailies in Turkey, suggested protesters are slyly reminding the world that it's just regular people who are waging this street fight.
The two selfies this week are the latest in a long line of viral photos from the streets of Istanbul and beyond, the newspaper said.
“While police are old-school agents of the repressive state, protesters are young, hip and interconnected to viral cultural phenomena,” the newspaper writes.
“Or in other words: ‘We’re here, we’re cheery, get used to it.’”
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