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Aka-san (Japanese : 赤さん, lit. Mr. Baby) or Gedou Baby (外道ベイビー) is a series of exploitable macros featuring a picture of smiling American baby and a caption that typically ends with the catchphrase “Masani Gedou!” (まさに外道), which roughly translates to “Downright Heresy!” in English. The humor is derived from the juxtaposition between the baby’s innocent smiling face and outrageous captions.
Re: Masani Gedou
In Japanese, “Masani Gedou” is a colloquial expression reserved for the most condemnable situations and often associated with masculine characters portrayed in mangas and films (ex: Yakuza members). While the word Gedou literally means “way of the outside” as in non-Buddhist or unorthodox, it can be also used as a dergatory term meaning “demon” or “bad person.”
The original photograph of Stephen was posted on his father Allen Rout’s website on March 19th, 2000.
According to several Japanese sources, the earliest instances of Gedo Baby were initially posted on the Japanese imageboard Futaba Channel (2chan) circa late 2004, with Stephen’s picture superimposed over an illustration from the popular Japanese comics Hell Stadium.
“Not like I’m gonna tell you jackasses!!!!!!” / ""Take a sh*t and hit the sack!!!!!!"
Quite reminiscent of Advice Dog and similar image macro memes, Gedou Baby iterations typically carry outrageous messages or inappropriate suggestions created by Japanese internet users.
As it is always the case with Japanese manga, right words balloon is the first remark and that of left side is the second. The joke usually consists of three parts: 1) a benign introductory statement disguised in gentleness and warmth; 2) a snippy or highly discouraging statement aimed at the reader; 3) the punchline “Downright Heresy,” which implies “shame on you.”
Google Trends queries for “まさに外道” (Downright Heresy!)
The meme was imported to 2channel and exploded in 2channel’s /news4vip/ (Breaking news: VIP) board, where it spawned hundreds of iterations exploring various subject topics, such as video games and internet culture, as well as black comedy involving personal despairs like unemployment and prolonged bachelor life.
According to Google Insights, the popularity of baby macro series surged in the summer of 2005; there’s an archive collection of the images uploaded by a 2channel user on August 22nd, 2005.
By early 2006, its frequent usage on high-traffic imageboards led to the launch of “Gedo Baby image macro generator” further boosting its propagation.
In 2007 the series reached its prime through photoshopped instances and video remixes across the Japanese hubsites and blogosophere, such as Nico Nico Douga (NND) and GeoCities. The NND Wiki entry for “Gedo Baby” was submitted on May 24th, 2008.
On July 29th, parenting blog The Bad Moms Club made a blog post titled “Parenting in the 21st Century: When Your Kid Is Big In Japan.”.
On August 2nd, another parenting blog DadWagon interviewed Stephen, now ten years old, about his internet fame overseas.
The Bad Moms Club – Parenting in the 21st Century: When Your Kid Is Big In Japan / 07-29-2010
DADWAGON – Q&A: Stephen Rout, Japanese Meme Boy, and His Father, Allen / 08-02-2010