Gavin the meme kid lands on Weibo to fanfare
American Vine star Gavin Thomas has inspired thousands of Chinese memes
When gymnastics superstars Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez took gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, they tweeted a meme of Gavin Thomas.
“There’s a Gavin meme for everything,” Biles later added.
And she’s right. The boy from Minnesota, who first rose to stardom on Vine, is arguably the most memed child on Earth. For many, Gavin and his Oscar-caliber facial expressions are highly relatable -- the perfect expression of a wide of range of universal emotions.
So it may not come as a surprise to know he’s just as popular in China as he is in the US.
This week, the 7-year-old started an account on Weibo -- China’s equivalent to Twitter. Within one day he amassed over 1 million followers, with his first video being re-posted more than 155,000 times and still counting.
Jokes are often lost in translation, and memes are no exception. For instance, most people in China probably wouldn’t understand Star War memes, having grown up without the George Lucas’ franchise.
But Gavin and his facial expressions transcend national boundaries. In China, Gavin is mostly known as “The Boy with a Fake Smile”. That’s because in many of his Vine videos he is seen in awkward situations where he has to force a smile.
The Chinese Gavin memes are often used to show a sense of helplessness, with the hope of attracting sympathy. They're also meant to convey the emotions of someone trying to stay positive despite feeling vulnerable.
Upon seeing Gavin’s first post, Chinese internet users were quick to confess their love.
Many wrote, “Son, your mom is coming for you!”
Check out the slideshow above to see more Weibo reactions!