If, like me, you're not much into the motorcycle enthusiast scene on social media, then, also like me, you no doubt aren't familiar with @azusagakuyuki's Twitter account. And it's one of those "Not followed by anyone you're following things.
But the one known as Azusa to her tens of thousands of followers in the culture of bike aficionados in Japan has been a bit of a big deal. Until recently. When a Japanese TV show broke their collective brain by presenting her superhero-like origin story:
Source - A Japanese “female” rider, who goes under the username @azusagakuyuki on Twitter, has fooled thousands on social media as she turns out to be a 50-year-old man who used photo-editing apps, FaceApp, to transform himself into a young “goddess”.
The popular motorbike enthusiast has gained a following of 18,300 on Twitter by posting selfies and photos of bikes.
Her real identity has been kept private as she has never revealed her age, and not any of her followers had seen her in person.
Until recently, some eagle-eyed followers spotted a reflection of a middle-aged man from the rear mirror in one of her photos, which prompted a Japanese variety show to track down the “goddess” in the photo and discovered that a 50-year-old man was behind the selfies of Azusa after he took off his helmet to reveal himself.
The man named Zonggu revealed that he had used a face-changing app to make himself appear as a beautiful young woman because he wants to share pictures of him cycling but “nobody wants to see an uncle”.
“In the past, only a dozen people would like my photos, but now I gained more than a thousand likes,” he said, adding that he enjoyed the feeling of becoming a beautiful influencer.
Damn. Here are more of Zonggu's digital handiwork:
Feel betrayed if you must, but you've got to respect his game. The man has all the biker knowledge, the incredible flow and the social media savvy to be an internet star. What he lacked was the right birth year, the right gender and the right looks to gain the following he deserves. So he used the tools of modern technology at his disposal and made himself into a legend.
And obviously I'm not alone in thinking that since his - make that her - followers continue to go up as his story makes the rounds. Apparently the only thing more popular than a young, attractive, biker model influencer is a middle aged man pretending to be a young, attractive, biker model influencer.
In a way, his story is a reverse of that legendary trope of the young woman who disguises herself as a man to attain the glory she desires. Mighty warrior princesses like Mulan, Eowyn from "Lord of the Rings," Irish pirate queen Grace O'Malley or Amanda Bynes in "She's the Man."
I'm sure that much of social media is a haunted nightmare for women, dark and full of terrors. Of that I have no doubt. But it's also true that much of that landscape is owned by them. Where attractive females with model looks dominate. Where they possess a homefield advantage no man can compete with. And as we've just learned, motorcycle modeling is one of them. So our boy Zonngu used his tech savvy, his incredible flow and his can-do attitude and he leveled the playing field. And in his own way, became just what he said he never could be.
A beautiful influencer. Godspeed, Azusa. And Zonngu. The world can love you both. Even though we'll never be able to trust anyone or anything ever again.