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Is Xiao Xiao a meme?

Last posted Oct 03, 2009 at 02:01AM EDT. Added Sep 26, 2009 at 02:05AM EDT
11 posts from 5 users

This is copypasta’d from Jamie’s wall in regards to a question I asked him a few minutes ago. I’ll just reword it so it seems that I’m asking all of you collectively instead of just a direct question to Admin # 1:

Do you know of the flash movie series, Xiao Xiao, which first appeared on the net on April of 2002? In most sites I’ve seen it mentioned, it was called an internet meme, especially the third episode, but I need confirmation from you guys to be sure of this.

Here’s how they described it on’s Internet Meme Timeline:

With the rise of flash animation based entertainment sites such as NewGrounds and eBaum’s World, XiaoXiao became an instant with its simple but pleasing flash animation The fighting stick figures have lead to dozens if not hundreds of spin offs and have inspired flash movie and game makers across the internet.

Now, I know that Dipity’s list can’t always be trusted but it’s not the only site that mentions it being an internet meme. There are more:
- Wikipedia
- DuckDuckGo
- Wapedia
- ||l|ll||||l|||ll|l|||
- Gourt

Here’s the infamous third episode:

Here’s a bunch of Xiao Xiao parodies from Newgrounds:

Well, thoughts?

Initially, wasn’t that thing meant to be an improvement of the “pivot” article about animations involving stick figures ?
While, as far as I’m concerned, Xiao Xiao is one of the first, if not the first, to do that kind of stuff inspired by Asian fighting movies, there are ton and ton of stick figures animations on differents themes.

Also, it was enough popular to be part of various commercials.

Xiao xiao city plaza:

Heineken ad:

Part 1

Part 2

Nike stick figure inspired ad:

Anyway, it’s definitely something to be researched.

That explains things much more clearly. The way the Pivot article tried to call the software a meme was confusing. But if Xiao Xiao was the first stick-death flash to inspire a bunch of imitators, then it sounds like a meme to me.

Stick Figure Animations are pretty broad. I’m not sure how far back they can be traced online, but they don’t start with Xiao Xiao.

Here’s a huge gallery created in 1999:

If you really want to cover stick figures, I’d probably use this wikiepedia article for some of your info:

The wikipedia article on Xiao Xiao is pretty interesting too:

Others have seized on Xiao Xiao’s popularity to make animations exploiting the easy-to-draw style of stick figures and minimalist backgrounds, often creating cartoons that are sequels or takeoffs of the official Xiao Xiao cartoons, especially Xiao Xiao #3. This practice has been frowned upon by many in the Flash cartooning community."

“In June 2004, Zhu filed a lawsuit against Nike for plagiarizing his cartoon stickmen in their commercials. Nike representatives denied the accusations, claiming that the stickman figure lacks originality, and is public domain. Zhu eventually won the lawsuit, and Nike was ordered to pay $36,000 to the cartoonist(AP, 6/16)[1]

So it would seem that Zhu Zhiqiang does not like it when others imitate his Xiao Xiao cartoons, and he sues people to protect his copyright.

I’m not really understanding how it is that Zhu won the lawsuit. I would agree with Nike that the stick figure lacks originality. It’s probably a good idea to read through whatever documentation we can find on the court case so we will know what makes a stick figure resemble Xiao Xiao and what doesn’t. As far as I can tell, a Xiao Xiao is just a stick figure doing martial arts, and that concept was not started by Zhu.

Also, not only did Xiao xiao make videos but also flash games from his serie.
In the world of stick figures animations, there are tons and tons of flash games as well.

The subjet may be too widely vast, actually…

Stick figures might be too broad, considering they started with cave paintings. But ANIMATED stick figures might be worth covering. Home-produced animations were difficult to produce until people had computers in their homes. So stick figure animations should probably be considered a part of interent culture.

I’m not exactly sure. Thinking about this…

What really gets under my skin is that the Beijing court actually confirmed Zhu’s copyright over the appearance of his stickman. I don’t see how his stickman is unique compared to any other stickman created with Pivot, Cutout Pro, Stykz, etc.

It makes for an interesting story, and is something I’d like to figure out.

The earliest fighting sticks on the internet I can think of came from, which started at the end of the ’90s.

The website doesn’t seem to active now, but it might be worth mentioning.

IMO ‘Xiao Xiao’ is a series of viral videos (I still have the AVI I downloaded from someone’s FTP account back in 2001) but the fad of putting stick figures in unexpectedly bloody and gruesome situations might be memeworthy.

If memory serves me right, the sharing of violent or pornographic stick figure animated gifs (possibly the inspiration for Zhu Zhiqiang’s ‘Xiao Xiao’?) has been around since the mid 90’s.


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