Crying Seal / He Was Forced to Eat Cement When He Was 6
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Crying Seal, refers to a series of GIF captions and videos based on a video of a seal which appears as if its crying, with the memes usually captioned to give an impression that the seal was abused in some unique way. The caption He Was Forced to Eat Cement When He Was 6, a derivative of an earlier meme featuring Robert Downey Jr., also gained popularity.
On April 29th, 2020, the official Twitter account of Toba Aquarium in Japan (@TOBA_AQUARIUM) uploaded a video of its Baikal seal Nico lying on the floor. The video received over 95,100 views, 1,700 retweets and 8,400 likes in ten months (shown below). In one point of the video, the reflections in seal's eyes give an impression that the seal is crying.
ニコ君で皆さんが笑顔になりますように💗 #鳥羽水族館 #バイカルアザラシ #ニコ君 pic.twitter.com/WlrrRKjuEv
— 鳥羽水族館（TOBA AQUARIUM） (@TOBA_AQUARIUM) April 29, 2020
In the following weeks, the video went viral, with users commenting that the seal had a face of an old man and with several outlets reporting on it.
On June 20th, 2020, the official YouTube channel of Toba Aquarium uploaded the full version of the video (shown below).
In August 2020, Redditor eufouric started spamming an image of the seal in their Discord group chat, with the image becoming an inside joke. On September 7th, 2020, Discord user Guy 2 captioned the GIF of the seal "He was forced to eat cement when he was 6," posting it in the group chat (shown below, left and right), with members of the chat then spreading the GIF caption to other servers. The caption references the "his dad forced him to smoke weed when he was 6" meme which originates from a 2018 video about Robert Downey Jr (screenshot shown below, right).
The GIF caption did not see viral spread until October. On October 4th, 2020, iFunny user grantvzombies posted the earliest found derivative meme that used the caption, using a similarly-styled video of a dog (shown below, left). On November 6th, 2020, YouTube user Yogurt Cap posted an Among Us meme which used the caption, gaining over 56,200 views in four months (shown below, right).
Starting on October 9th, 2020, users on Twitter and Instagram posted the original GIF caption and videos based on it. For example, on October 10th, 2020, Twitter user @chefmaeda reposted the GIF, gaining over 130 retweets and 420 likes. On the same day, Instagram users woomy_2 and hambubrger reposted the meme, with the posts gaining over 9,700 and 10,800 views, respectively.
In the following months, the GIF of the seal has become popular source material for GIF captions, with users captioning it in a way to give the impression that the seal was abused in some unique, usually perceivably harmless, way. Additionally, the caption He Was Forced to Eat Cement When He Was 6 also gained popularity both as a catchphrase and a snowclone.
— ephedrine (@msirxv) February 2, 2021
 Twitter – @TOBA_AQUARIUM
 Pop! – Internet captivated by ‘cute but strange’ baby seal because of its human-like face.
 The Asahi Shumbun – Seal cub named Niko that looks almost human makes its debut
 YouTube – Toba Aquarium
 Facebook – Robert Downey Jr.: From troubled teen to Tony Stark
 Facebook – Jay Shetty
 iFunny – DoctorPines
 iFunny – grantvszombies
 YouTube – cement.mp4
 Twitter – @chefmaeda
 Instagram – hambubrger
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