What's Trending

Trumped-up surname and strains of pasta-mania

Comedian attempts to rename US presidential hopeful and S'porean demonstrates his 'faith'

WHAT'S IN A SURNAME

"Donald Drumpf" has been making the headlines all week.

No, that isn't a spelling error, but part of an ongoing campaign by English comedian John Oliver to take a little steam off Republican candidate Donald Trump's incredible run to the White House.

The hashtag #MakeDonald DrumpfAgain was coined by Oliver in a 20-minute Last Week Tonight expose, where he likened Trump to "America's back mole that is no longer wise to ignore."

Mr Trump's last name, argues Oliver, has been carefully cultivated to be associated with success. "It is the sound produced when a mouthy servant is slapped across the face with a wad of thousand-dollar bills," he enthuses.

Instead, Oliver encourages netizens to popularise an older version of the name - Drumpf - which was reportedly changed by Mr Trump's grandfather upon emigrating to the US.


Mr Tang wore a pasta strainer in his Australian driving licence photo, expressing his belief in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. PHOTO: DAN TANG

The video also tackled Mr Trump's tough-guy image, his penchant for suing people who disagreed with him and his claims of being truly independent.

"(Mr Trump) has taken in US$7.5 million in individual contributions, and if he didn't want it, maybe he shouldn't have two 'donate' buttons on his website," says Oliver in his video, which has been watched more than 57 million times.


Rock's skit using Asian children at the Oscars did not sit well with many as he was expected to address racism. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The other components in the campaign include a Chrome browser extension (found here: www.donaldjdrumpf.com) which changes all instances of "Trump" to "Drumpf" and merchandise which Oliver says he is selling at cost, "a fact that will probably irritate Mr Drumpf".

Has it worked? The hashtag has been tweeted thousands of times, by personalities like Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and actress Kerry Washington.

In fact, the second-most searched for candidate in the United States on Google, in the lead-up to Super Tuesday, was Donald Drumpf, says economics Professor Justin Wolfers in an article in the New York Times.

  • NOTABLE TRENDS

  • #DAMNDANIEL: A short video of a Californian high school student complimenting his friend on his style has gone viral, with one tweet being favourited more than 450,000 times. The two teens have since been featured on news networks and Ellen DeGeneres' talk show.

    #WORLDBOOKDAY: The hashtag trended as World Book Day was celebrated in Britain last Thursday. Children dressed up in costumes of their favourite book heroes or villains, and many books were sold at discounted rates. It falls on April 23 in the US.

    #ZERODISCRIMINATION: Zero Discrimination Day aims to highlight efforts to reduce HIV-related stigma and other forms of intolerance. "Everyone has the right to live with respect and dignity," said the United Nations in a tweet.

The most searched-for candidate was Mr Donald Trump.

"I'm led to conclude... that Mr Oliver and his #MakeDonald DrumpfAgain movement has executed a more successful campaign than either Mr Marco Rubio or Mr Ted Cruz," Prof Wolfers says.

The other Trump-related story which made waves on social media last week was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's expression as he endorsed Mr Trump. "He is bringing the country together. That, ladies and gentleman, is not a campaign, it's a movement," said a despondent- looking Mr Christie in an address sorely lacking in energy.

His vacant and somewhat sad look was immediately picked up by news outlets and sharp-eyed netizens. "Chris Christie spent the entire speech screaming wordlessly. I have never seen someone scream so loudly without using his mouth before," said columnist Alexandra Petri for The Washington Post.

"Christie enthusiasm level: Hostage video,"said Twitter user Matt Duss. This spawned a hilarious hashtag #FreeChrisChristie, which many believe to be the main highlight of Super Tuesday.

Mr Christie eventually addressed all the accusations last Thursday: "No, I wasn't being held hostage. All these armchair psychiatrists should give it a break."

A MAN AND HIS STRAINER

A Singaporean man wore a pasta strainer on his head in a photograph for his Australian driving licence last week.

In doing so, 43-year-old Mr Dan Tang is believed by many to be the first local to express his religious beliefs as a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in such a way.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or FSM in short, is a parody religion that began more than a decade ago.

Dedicated to an airborne serving of spaghetti and meatballs, also called His Noodliness, the social movement opposes the teaching of creationism and intelligent design.

Over the years, several adherents have attempted to demonstrate their "faith" by taking photos with a strainer for their driving licence.

Only a handful of believers - from the US, Russia and Australia - have succeeded.

Mr Tang said he received astonished and bewildered glances as he was getting the photo taken.

"I thought it was a funny and light-hearted way to make a stand in a non-offensive way. This strainer, which I borrowed from a friend's kitchen, has been used for cooking many yummy dishes," he says.

His feat was first published on the website of the Humanist Society (Singapore), of which he is a founding member, before getting picked up by several local news outlets. The society currently has about 3,500 followers on its Facebook page.

"We champion the ideals of a secular, compassionate and rational society," says its vice-president, Ms Zheng Huifen. "Each individual has the right to choose their way of life, of course, subject to not hurting anyone else."

ASIAN JOKE FALLS FLAT AT OSCARS

Controversial comedian Chris Rock has been slammed for being a hypocrite after many thought a joke he cracked at the latest Oscar awards went too far.

Ironically, Rock was expected to address Hollywood's systemic racism against black actors, which had been trending earlier under the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

In the gag, Rock brought out three Asian kids dressed smartly in tuxedos and introduced them as accountants.

"They sent us their most dedicated, accurate and hard-working representatives," he said. "I want you to please welcome Ming Zhu, Bao Ling and David Moskowitz. If anybody's upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was probably also made by these kids," he added.

Indeed some people, like Jeremy Lin, the first American NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, did take his advice seriously.

"Seriously though, when is this going to change?" he tweeted. "Tired of it being 'cool' and 'ok' to bash Asians #Oscars"

In another tweet, Fresh Off The Boat actress Constance Wu said: "To parade little kids on stage with no speaking lines merely to be the butt of a racist joke is reductive & gross. Antithesis of progress."

To make matters worse, the mother of one of the children later said they were unaware of what the joke was till after the rehearsals, in which case they were already contractually bound to see it through.

But there were also many others who felt the issue was overblown.

"Chris is a comedian. He makes jokes. Live with it and move on," said a Twitter user.

WATCH THE VIDEO ONLINE
How 'Make Donald Trumpf Again' started http://str.sg/ZyFJ

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 06, 2016, with the headline 'What'sTrending Trumped-up surname and strains of pasta-mania'. Print Edition | Subscribe