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8 iconic photos, videos and memes that best sum up 2016

The year 2016 seemed packed with unthinkable events, such as Brexit and US President-elect Donald Trump's shock victory at the polls.

And while the world-changing events were met with grim humour, everyday life was peppered with light-hearted moments to keep things interesting. Denizens of the digital age dutifully recorded everything with their cameras and computers at the ready.

We take a look back at the photos, videos and Internet memes that capture a slice of life around the world this year.

1. Fake plane photo fools Nikon


The original photo (top left) and the ensuing memes after it was exposed as a manipulated image. PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK

Local photographers were up in arms in January when Japanese camera maker Nikon awarded a prize for a photo that had been digitally manipulated.

Amateur shutterbug Chay Yu Wei submitted a black-and-white photograph that ostensibly showed an airplane framed by a ladder, but was lambasted for what critics called a crudely done cut-and-paste insertion of the image of an airplane into the picture.

Other social media users mocked Mr Chay's photograph by inserting images of everything from trains and rollercoasters to Godzilla and Darth Vader.

2. I have a pen...

Japanese comedian Daimaou Kosaka caught the attention of Internet users with a music video in August.

The minute-long Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen was as mindless as it was catchy. In his flamboyant alter ego Piko-Taro, Kosaka gyrated and mimed holding household objects while chanting: "I have a pen! I have an apple!"

Piko-Taro went on to win a Guinness World Record for the shortest song to make it to the US Billboard Hot 100 charts.

He performed an extended version of the song - "I have a long pen!" - at the celebratory press conference.

3. Potus and 'Brotus'


US President Barack Obama (right) and Vice-President Joe Biden address publicly for the first time Mr Donald Trump's shock win in the presidential election. PHOTO: AFP

In the shock aftermath of the US elections, some fans of the status quo clung to the relationship between US President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden for its veneer of normalcy.

A new genre of memes emerged, captioning photographs of the two with imagined dialogue that mocked the upcoming installation of the Donald Trump administration.

https://twitter.com/pieceofjay/status/797187300723752960

Mr Biden, whom the public fondly calls "Uncle Joe", has a reputation for being laidback and straightforward. Mr Obama typically plays the straight man in the memes, while Mr Biden is cast as the mischief-maker - such as booby-trapping the presidential residence with Lego bricks and burning Mr Trump's alleged wig.


Mr Obama blows out candles on birthday cupcakes brought to him by Mr Biden in the Oval Office on Aug 4, 2016. PHOTO: OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO

The two are also close friends - Mr Obama offered to help with medical costs when Mr Biden's son Beau died of cancer earlier this year.

4. Laugh, and the world laughs with you


Ms Candace Payne enjoys a bike ride with "Chewbacca" at Facebook HQ, days after a video of herself laughing hysterically while wearing an electronic mask of the Star Wars character went viral. PHOTO: MARK ZUCKERBERG/FACEBOOK

Texas woman Candace Payne found unexpected Internet fame as "Chewbacca mum" in May, when a Facebook Live video showing her laughing hysterically in an electronic Chewbacca mask gained more than 50 million views in a day.

Ms Payne, 37, wore a mask that emitted the Star Wars character's characteristic groaning call whenever she opened her mouth. She had purchased it for her birthday because she found it irrepressibly amusing.

Her good humour was so infectious that she was invited to Facebook headquarters and appeared in interviews with numerous media outlets.

5. 'Aleppo Boy' Omran Daqneesh

The five-year-old became the haunting face of the country's brutal civil war when a rebel group released a photograph of Omran in an ambulance, frozen in shock and covered in blood and dust.

His 10-year-old brother Ali died of internal bleeding and organ damage in the same attack.

The photo led to global condemnation of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the city of Syrian city Aleppo.

6. Reign of the killer clowns


Clown costumes displayed for sale at a store in Mexico City. PHOTO: AFP 

"Bitte nicht den Horror-Clown (please not the horror-clown)," one German newspaper headline begged the day before the US presidential elections, accompanied with a picture of Donald Trump - but horror-clowns were in fact on the loose long before Americans went to the polls.

In August, news broke of people dressed as clowns trying to lure children away in a small town in South Carolina. The phenomenon rapidly spread across the United States, fuelled by both threatening and terrified posts on social media.


Student Joel Wong apologised for dressing up as a clown in an attempt to scare people. PHOTOS: @JOELFERDON/INSTAGRAM, SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

Clowns made an appearance in Australia and even sparked physical attacks in Europe. The lone copycat in Singapore, however, got little attention from nonplussed locals. He received a police warning and professed himself sorry for his antics.

7. 'Afghan girl' refugee deported


"Afghan girl" Sharbat Gula as a 12-year-old in 1984 (left) and on Nov 9, 2016. PHOTOS: STEVE MCCURRY, REUTERS 

Sharbat Gula became the face of the Afghan refugee crisis in the 1980s when National Geographic magazine ran a cover photo showing her piercing green eyes staring hauntingly into the camera.

Gula, then 12, was living in a refugee camp in Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

In October, Pakistani authorities released a similar photograph of Gula, now 45. But it was a mugshot, taken in a jail in Peshawar.

Gula, an illiterate mother of four, was among the thousands of Afghan refugees who had obtained Pakistani identity documents in order to avoid being returned to their war-torn birthplace. She was arrested, imprisoned and deported.

8. Look lively with the mannequin challenge

Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo did it. US politician Hillary Clinton did it. It's a viral video trend that had a brief but illustrious tenure, beginning with a group of Florida high school students in mid-October and peaking in mid-November.

The mannequin challenge involved large groups of people keeping very still in elaborate poses that made full use of their environment - whether that was a locker room or the interior of an airplane.

The trend has been taken up in Singapore by groups as diverse as a wedding party, a Singapore Airlines crew, theatre company Wild Rice, a church congregation and national bowlers.