Horse Head Mask

Horse Head Mask

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About

Horse Head Mask is a soft vinyl and latex mask that is worn by people all over the world for humorous effect and a symbol of Anonymous on the Japanese web, similar to the use of Green Masks Guy Fawkes Masks.

Origin

The original horse head mask was manufactured by the Seattle-based novelty dealer Archie McPhee & Co.[1] and made available for sale through websites as early as February 1st, 2002.[2]


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The concept of wearing a horse head mask for purposes other than as a Halloween costume can be found in the The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel published on June 29th, 2005.[4] In the book, one of the social experiments called “Horse Head Adventure”[5] suggested one of the travelers to wear a horse mask while the group were touring places on vacation.



Spread

Tom Green’s House Tonight

Canadian talk show host Tom Green once ran an episode where he wore the mask and started screaming while shaking his head around, seemingly as a parody of Mitchell Henderson. This is currently the first known usage of the mask in web video.



On Nico Nico Douga

On the Japanese video-sharing website Nico Nico Douga, many who wish to remain Anonymous wear masks, one of the most popular choices being the horse head mask. It eventually took off and became one of the signature masks to be used by the community, alongside the Scream Mask and the Darth Vader Helmet. However, in contrast the two other masks that became iconic through popular films, the horse head mask gained its popularity though spontaneous, mass adoption, possibly influenced by Japanese performance artist Wotaken.

Wotaken’s Videos

As more and more NND users began mirror-uploading their content to YouTube, the horse head mask soon grew popular in the English-speaking communities, most notably a video titled “Dancing Japanese Man Wearing a Horse Mask Cooks Wild Mushrooms” featuring Japanese performance artist known Wotaken uploaded by YouTuber mrhorseshoe[6] on January 9th, 2008. The video was featured on numerous blogs and news sites such as BuzzFeed[7], 3Yen[8], and Urlesque.[9] It was even given its own Facebook group.[10] PC World called it one of the most disturbing YouTube videos of all time.[11]



Mrs Johnson

One of the most popular usages of the horse mask is by YouTuber TomSka in some of his videos. It is used for his character named “Mrs Johnson”, who first appeared in his Coming Out video (upper left, at the 2:27 mark). Her origin was only explained, however, in the Meanwhile 2 video (upper right, at the 1:14 mark), where it is told that she is a hyper-intelligent horse person from a parallel universe known as Equestrion who has been banished to our universe for her crimes and lives here in exile. She has a catchphrase usually interpreted as “I LOVE IT!”, and she always wears a white nightdress.

She has been featured in a video entitled “HORSE”, where we see a day in Mrs Johnson’s life (lower left). Here, she is portrayed as a psychotic, yet happy-go-lucky troublemaker who sometimes infiltrates other people’s homes and sleeps the night there without the people living there acknowledging it.

(TomSka’s only other usage of the mask is in his Super Good Impressions video (lower right) for the horse.gif and Suspicious Horse Portrait impressions.)


Horse Boy on Google Maps

A man named Dobbin Horsome donned the mask immediately when a Google Street View car was driving by and was photographed by the passing vehicle. The picture was taken in the Hardgate area of the city of Aberdeen, Scotland. According to Dobbin, he was just heading to a pub where his newly wedded friend was at when he noticed the Google car driving up towards him. Since he had the mask with him, he decided on a whim to wear it so that the car would take a picture of him with it on.



Having just been heading back to the pub to see my recently-wedded Scottish mate with the infamous mask in my hand, only to spot a famous Google car, in a split-second moment of thinking “I’ll only regret this if I don’t at least give it a go.”

The split-second decision can be seen in this picture compilation. Dobbin, nicknamed Horse Boy, became a viral internet phenomenon and caused BBC News to be e-mailed by webbies from all over Europe stating that they knew the identity of “Horse Boy”, many of which proved to be false. Dobbin Horsome has his own blog[12], Twitter account[13], YouTube channel[14], and Facebook account.[15]



Search Interest

Search queries for “horse head mask” had a small spike in October 2009, but didn’t pick up again until July of 2010.



External References

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Top Comments

PHR16384
PHR16384

On the one hand, this is kind of awesome, obviously because horses are awesome.
On the other hand, the face is forever frozen in an unblinking, soul-penetrating stare…
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK NOW!

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