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“Jia Jun Peng, your mother wants you to come home for dinner” (贾君鹏你妈妈喊你回家吃饭) is a popular catchphrase that spread across the Chinese internet in 2009. The phrase was first posted on a Chinese WOW forum and from there, it spawned thousands of user comments and photoshopped images that amounted to an epic story surrounding the fictitious character Jia Jun Peng and his mother waiting for her son’s return.
At 10:59pm on July 16th, 2009, the message was posted on a World of Warcraft forum operated by Baidu, China’s largest search engine. The first responses came within minutes from random members viewing the forum: “I’m not coming back home for dinner today. I’m eating at the internet café. Tell my mother for me, will you?” and “If you don’t come back home right now I’ll make you kneel on the washboard.” The thread soon gave rise to an unprecedented flash flood of public creativity, resulting in over 300,000 responses within the first 48 hours.
More responses began to pour in by the second, with many forum members forming a fictional “Jia family” by modifying their handles to Jia Junpeng’s aunt, grandfather, sister, so on and on:
“Peng Peng, come back. Your mother has accepted we can be together. Let’s not argue.”
- Jia Jun Peng’s Girlfriend
The story was soon picked up by various Chinese news publications and blogs like Sina, Sohu and QQ, as well as English-language blogs like China Hush, China Smack and Juxtapoz. On September 5th, 2009, Los Angeles Times also published an article about the phenomenon reporting that “the catchphrase has gone viral in recent weeks.”
The original thread came to a lock after reaching its maximum capacity at 1:30pm on July 20th, 2009, with a total of 315,649 comments translated into 10,421 pages.
The photoshop artists were also quick to get involved and hundreds of images began to surface featuring the slogan “Jia Jun Peng, your mother wants you to come home for dinner!” in similar style to All Your Base Are Belong to Us.
During the onset of “Jia Jun Peng” phenomenon, a group of World of Warcraft players speculated that there is an allusion to China’s WOW servers being out of service, a hidden meaning behind the viral phrase. They asserted that the phrase can be interpreted as millions of Chinese WOW players’ plea towards Netease, the company overseeing most WOW servers in China, to resume service following a month-long WOW blackout across the country in May 2009.
However, many readers rejected this notion as an overly complex reading of the text and argued that it is a typical example of randomness often found in Chinese Kuso humor. Meanwhile, others viewed the “Jia Jun Peng” phenomenon as a social commentary on the growing prevalence of Internet addiction among Chinese youths who spend many hours of the day playing computer games at Internet cafes.
Since rising to its viral stature, the phrase has been used for a variety of novelty merchandises and musical tributes, as well as for other purposes in marketing and political activism.
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