Why The 'Mei Overwatch Rule 34' Trend Is OK

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It goes without saying the internet is a strange place. It’s basically infinite, which means almost anything is possible here. Those of us tasked with delving into the web for trends (clickbaiters) occasionally get insights into unique cultural moments, like the latest trend for the last 24 hours “mei overwatch rule 34.”

Mei is getting Overwatch fans hot under the parka. Photo: Google Trends

Anytime ‘rule 34’ is invoked there is generally a collective eye roll alongside it. But it's so significant a trend that no less than The Washington Post explored the issue a few months ago, and it's highly trafficked Urban Dictionary page all but cements its legacy as an internet touchstone. Of course, rule 34 is all about context. Poke around Google (away from work) and you might be surprised/horrified at how much you find. The ‘mei overwatch rule 34’ trend itself is fairly predictable, but not without its own surprises.

For starters, there are plenty of other female characters in Overwatch that seem like more obvious choices for a rule 34 spike. Like, pretty much any of them seem like they’d inspire a bit more sexual fetishism than Mei. But they’re not. Mei’s rise to the top of the Overwatch rule 34 heap is significant, since it stands to reason the launch of competitive play in Overwatch this week resulted in a flood of new/returning players. And somewhere amidst this surge of gamers a zeitgeist of sexual curiosity arose. Mei, with her oversized parka and Velma glasses, is causing all sorts of randiness.

Is it the parka? There is plenty of evidence that less is more when it comes to attraction and maybe fans are focusing on Mei because she leaves the most to the imagination. And, to be fair to the artists slaking the Mei thirst, the depictions are fairly body-positive . Mei would be right at home in a Dove campaign. There is certainly some exaggeration to her form, but it’s more Venus of Willendorf than Barbie of Malibu.

Mei doesn’t exude much sexuality either, especially compared to Tracer’s cockney accent and controversial posterior or Widowmaker’s whole vibe of lithe purple maneater . Mei seems nice. If you asked her to coffee she’d probably say ‘yes’ and order cocoa instead. She’s the gentle, unintimidating girl next door who wears your hoodie while you’re away at summer camp because she misses you. The “mei overwatch rule 34” results are a little less wholesome, of course, but don’t stray into anything all that outrageous or creative.

And so what if they did? It’s not like Mei is a real person. When it comes to the porn-opticon available online there is still a certain stigma attached to cartoons and comics and hentai. Everyone getting their jollies to some “mei overwatch rule 34” content is passively supporting the most ethical porno around. Think about it. The real, physical, flesh and [redacted] porn industry enjoyed by the overwhelming majority of the population is by most accounts a terrible thing. Whether its graphic tales of mistreatment from stars or lawsuits against revenge porn sleazebags or STD epidemics the porn industry is anything but victimless.

So maybe we shouldn’t treat the rule 34 stuff as fringe or freakish. Overwatch is undeniably the hottest game in the world right now, boasting millions of players every week. Its players ARE the mainstream. And those players are more interested in the contents of a cartoon parka than they are almost anything else in the game. And while we might never know why, I won’t complain. For better or worse gaming has a perception of having a seedy misogynistic underbelly obsessed with shallow, sexualized women. So it’s nice for gamers when our rule 34s say otherwise.

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