Definition of 炎上 (enjou)
“炎上 (えんじょう, enjou)” or its verb “炎上する (enjou suru)” indicate when someone (esp. famous people) come under fire due/in the firing line to their inappropriate statements or behaviour. For instance, a lot of politicians and celebrities 炎上する (come under fire) when they make racist and/or sexist remarks. Non-famous people can also cause enojou by posting inflammatory/inappropriate content on the web. For instance, teens under legal age often do enjou after uploading photos of them drinking alcohol on social media.
炎上 as a Publicity Stunt
Some people cause 炎上 on purpose to attract the public’s attention for their benefit. This type of 炎上 is called “炎上商法 (えんじょう しょうほう, enjou shouhou)”, where “商法 (しょうほう, shouhou)” means “commercial strategy”. For instance, some celebrities are often criticised for doing this by posting provocative posts on social media to increase their followers. Another example is when a company advertises its product using provocative or sexual lines/scenes.
Original Meaning of enjou
Originally, 炎上 means “something is intensely burning/on fire”, as in “近所の家が炎上している” meaning “The house in my neighbourhood is on fire”. The first Kanji “炎” means “fire/flame” and the second kanji “上” means “above/up”, and hence 炎上 depicts a big fire climbing up to the sky.
The celebrity said, “Cheating on one’s wife is a necessary evil” and came under fire.
The aeroplane failed to land, and then crashed and burned intensely.