The Japanese artist who created the creepy, big-eyed sculpture that inspired the YouTube “Momo” meme said he has now destroyed it.
The “Momo Challenge” has drawn controversy and viral attention, with allegations that the scary-looking statute of a girl with a twisted face popped up in videos meant for kids, advising them to harm or even kill themselves. While the allegations are in doubt, the artist who created the original sculpture said he decided to destroy it in a bid to bring the issue to an end.
Keisuke Aiso told The Sun that he decided to destroy his statue, originally called “Mother Bird,” after the viral attention the image had gotten.
“The children can be reassured Momo is dead,” Aiso said.
“She doesn’t exist and the curse is gone.”
As CNET reported, the sculpture itself had a bit of a scary history. Aiso said he was inspired by the Japanese legend of Ubume, about a woman who dies in childbirth and returns in a grotesque form to haunt the living world.
But Aiso said that the sculpture had run its course, and it seemed a natural time to dispose of it.
“(The sculpture) doesn’t exist anymore, it was never meant to last,” he told The Sun.
“It was rotten and I threw it away.”
Parents had been warned to be careful of what videos their children watched on YouTube, with the Momo character allegedly being inserted into otherwise normal-looking children’s videos and advising the children on how to harm or kill themselves.
There are questions about whether the so-called “Momo Challenge” actually existed as people claimed it did. While there was some evidence that showed up online in the form of people showing off supposed videos that contained the creepy character Momo, others claimed that it was really a hoax.
— The Sun (@TheSun) March 3, 2019
This week, YouTube responded to the reports to clarify that there was no evidence that the Momo character actually showed up in videos on the site.
“Contrary to press reports, we’ve not received any recent evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube,” a spokesperson for the site said (via Comic Book).
“Content of this kind would be in violation of our policies and removed immediately.”
It was not clear why those creating the Momo videos — fake or otherwise — would be doing so, but some experts believe it is intended to spread fear among those watching videos. YouTube had already acted to demonetize any videos where the Momo character appeared, so it did not appear that money was a motivation.