Here are five things to know to put the phenomenon in context:
1. Overnight sensation
The slickly produced video shows journalist Chai Jing presenting a comprehensive slide show, intercutting with fast-paced footage of her travels across China and the rest of world, to find answers to three questions: What is smog, where does it come from and what can be done to tackle it?
As shocking levels of air pollution continue to choke much of China regularly, the video has struck such a chord with the audience that, in two short days, it’s easily attracted over 100 million views — a hugely impressive number even in the world’s most populous nation.
And the cacophony surrounding it seems to have caught even China’s seasoned censors off guard. Heated arguments have raged online, including blaming pollution on China’s political system due to its lack of accountability.
By late Sunday night, although the video remained online, all mention of it had been scrubbed from homepages of web portals and news sites.
With discussions on the video shifting to social media, a common consensus seems to have emerged: Love it or hate it, Chai’s documentary has stirred an important debate in a country where authorities censored air pollution data from the U.S. embassy as recently as November.
Some internet users have compared “Under the Dome” phenomena to the discussion over “the dress”— you can fight over the color but what’s important is that it’s being talked about.