An old image of the front of a hybrid airship designed and built by British manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) made the rounds on social media this weekend, and it quickly became the “butt” of jokes due to it looking much like a person’s backside.
Though it was unclear why user Science Girl (@gunsnrosegirl3), who has 1.1 million followers, shared the image, it does seem that she may have seen what so many others quickly noted, even as she offered the very official sound caption, ” The Hybrid Air Vehicles Airlander 10, initially known as the HAV 304, is a hybrid airship crafted by the British company Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV). This unique aircraft features a helium airship structure along with supplementary wing and tail components. It utilizes a combination of aerostatic and aerodynamic lift principles for flight and is driven by four ducted propellers powered by diesel engines.”
In this case, the photo of the Airlander 10 in Hanger One at Cardington Airfield isn’t new. It is actually present on the airship’s Wikipedia page and was first posted in January 2016 by user “Philbobagshot”—a name that may elicit as many laughs as the photo no doubt!
Did HAV Leaned Into The Joke?
Though it is possible that the original photographer never saw what so many on social media so easily recognized, it almost appears that HAV leaned into the joke.
“Interestingly, this could have been avoided if HAV had simply not used that particular angle for the photo. At least move 25 degrees or more to either side or a shot from above,” suggested Scott Talan, assistant professor of communication at American University.
Of course, it should be noted that since the first prototype of the Airlander 10 was built more than a decade ago, it has earned the nicknames “The Flying Bum” and “The Flying Buttocks.”
The photo has been seen more than 36 million times by Monday afternoon, and that’s the kind of publicity that could only be described as priceless.
Social Media Is Ripe For This Humor
There are some who might think such rude responses to the photo are new to the social media era, but throughout history, there has been a case that a cigar may resemble something else in dreams or otherwise. Crass comments should almost always be expected.
“The history of sexual and sexualized images is as long as human history,” said technology industry analyst Charles King of Pund-IT. “In other words, it is an elemental part of being human. Most people tend to use slang, code words or other innuendo to allude to sex in polite company, but straightforward images and text have also been generally available.”
The difference today is that social media just makes it easier to share comments in not-so-polite company, while there is also little innuendo today!
“When you are face to face with someone being direct is much more complicated and challenging,” added Talan. “Social media lets people act/speak from a perch that is removed from in-person comments and thus gives some folks the freedom to speak more crassly and directly. Potty humor in public so to speak.”
It is worth noting that social media has allowed such comments to be far more public than ever, yet can still remain fairly anonymous.
“A key point is that most of that earlier sexual material was created and published or disseminated anonymously, meaning it has certain similarities to public websites, like Twitter, where anonymity is baked in—a feature, not a bug—where people can post whatever they like under individual or layers of pseudonyms,” King continued. “The essential structure of Twitter, with its emphasis on retweets and follows, also encourages a ‘piling on’ of posts and edited images by like-minded individuals. In some cases, it can be mildly amusing. In others, where comments and images become increasingly extreme, even to include racist memes, it can resemble bathing in a manure pond.”