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Exploding Knees is a photoshopped advertisement which depicts a young boy playing with a wireless Nintendo joystick and explosions erupting from his knee caps.
According to the tech news blog Geekosystem, a Nintendo apparel ad was run by the company Homer’s in 1994, featuring a young boy wearing a Super Mario hat and a Nintendo sweater while playing with a wireless joystick (shown below, left). On August 9th, 2007, a photoshopped version of the Nintendo advertisement was posted to a thread in the /b/ (random board) on 4chan, which included explosions superimposed over the child’s knees with the caption “Exploding Knees” (shown below, right).
On January 24th, 2010, YouTuber xXUltraSushiXx uploaded a video featuring the exploding knees image macro, accompanied by a looped audio file of a text-to-speech voice narrating “Maik is pro in Sonic games, but just because he’s gay” for 10 minutes (shown below).
On August 4th, 2011, DeviantArtist Valenmere uploaded an illustration titled “Exploding Knees,” featuring several renditions of the Nintendo ad (shown below, left). On September 5th, a Facebook page titled “Help Raise Awareness of Exploding Knee’s Syndrome” was launched. On November 30th, a T-shirt with the Exploding Knees image macro printed on the front was put up for sale on the online retailer Red Bubble (shown below, middle). On December 5th, Canvas user darkexecutor posted a photoshopped image of professional golfer Tiger Woods with exploding knees (shown below, right).
On April 6th, 2012, the Internet news blog Unreality Mag highlighted the original 1994 ad, which was subsequently reblogged by the tech news sites Geekosystem and Geeks Are Sexy within the next week. On October 1st, an anonymous 4chan user mentioned exploding knees while listing several of the imageboard’s older memes.