dajiangyou reports: a series of fieldwork notes on Chinese digital folklore by a PhD in anthropology of the digital // Gabriele de Seta
Although rarely mentioned by Western observers hooked on Grass Mud Horses, River Crabs and other political parodies,
Jinkela is one of the most popular and long-standing Chinese Internet memes. Originally a brand of purportedly miraculous
fertilizer supplement produced by a self-proclaimed US-based company (美国·圣地亚戈 American·SHENGDIYAGE) and
distributed in iconic yellow&green plastic bags, 
Jinkela (金坷垃, "Golden Lumps of Earth" or "Golden Soil") went all the way
from appearing in poorly shot regional television ads to spawning one of the largest repertoires of egao videos in China.
:我要金坷垃非洲农业不发达 必须要有金坷垃!
:我要金坷垃日本资源太缺乏 必须要有金坷垃!
日非:金坷垃我的我的 (扭打...
:不能打架!金坷垃好处都有啥? 谁说对了就给他
(边说边甩手):肥料掺了金坷垃不流失 不蒸发 零浪费
:世界肥料都涨价 肥料掺了金坷垃! 一袋能顶两袋撒!
:用了金坷垃小麦亩产一千八 日本的粮食再也不向美国进口了! 哈哈
(想):小鬼子 真不傻!金坷垃给了他 对美国农业危害大 绝不能给他
:非洲农业不发达 我们都要支援他金坷垃你们日本别想了
:狡猾! 狡猾! 没有金坷垃怎么种庄稼金坷垃!金坷垃!
: "Jinkela! Jinkela! It's ours! It's ours!"
A small truck loaded with Jinkela gets stopped...
U.S.: "What do you guys think you're doing?"
"Jinkela! Jinkela! It's ours! It's ours!"
Africa: "I want Jinkela, Africa's agriculture is not developed, we need
to have Jinkela!"
Japan: "I want Jinkela, Japan's resources are too scarce, we need to
have Jinkela!"
Japan&Africa: "Jinkela is mine! Mine! (scuffle)
Africa: "Fuckin' Jinkela is mine!”
: "Don't fight! What are the advantages of Jinkela? Who gets it
right I'll give him Jinkela!"
Africa: (Speaking and swinging hands) "The fertilizer mixed with
Jinkela does not drain away and does not evaporate, zero waste!"
Japan: (Snatching Jinkela bag) "The fertilizer mixed with Jinkela can
absorb minerals two meters deep!"
Africa: "Fertilizer prices all over the world are rising, if you mix
fertilizer and Jinkela, one bag becomes worth two!"
Japan: "Once using Jinkela wheat yields will rise to 1,800, Japan will
not need to import it from the U.S. anymore!"
U.S.: (Thinking) "The little devil really isn't stupid! If I give Jinkela to
him the American agriculture will suffer greatly, I definitely can't give it
to him”
U.S.: "Africa's agriculture is not developed, we all have to support it,
you Japanese forget about Jinkela"
Japan: "Clever! Clever! How to plant crops without Jinkela?! Jinkela!"

(egao videos: from egao 恶搞, literally "make-bad": parodic, satirical and
humorous videos usually based on fast remixes and cut-ups of other clips,
often synced to popular songs in the tradition of Japanese MAD videos)
Golden Soil was quickly debunked as a
scam product and withdrawn from the
market, but its series of maximalist television ads, splicing revelations about US presidents, scenes
from Chinese village life, boisterous agrochemical claims and sterotyped foreigners arguing over a
Jinkela-filled truck, have provided endless humourous references to user-generated montages,
animations and jokes for more than seven years already. Along with the product bag, featuring a
pensive middle-aged Westerner, recurring Jinkela  references include the overacted gestures of
enthusiasm of the multiethnic cast, the amateurish camera takes, and the goofily dubbed dialogue
between Japan, Africa and the United States.
“dajiangyou reports: jinkela”, Gabriele de Seta, 2014

all materials for this essay were collected on publicly accessible pages of online platforms, and are reproduced for educational purpose under fair use rights

What is is quite interesting in the advertisement's script, reproduced above, is the way in which it is potentially readable as a folk treatise on foreign policy between stereotypical national
imaginations: the economically successful corporate US selling solutions and delocalizing factories of top-quality products to China, Japan as a jittery pest scheming for autarchy, and
Africa as poor and underdeveloped. The irony of having this dialogue set in some backalley in the Chinese countryside brings forward the link to the "agricultural" tropes of rural China,
often entailing backwardness and credulity, and to the universe of often mistrusted guochan (国产, nationally produced goods).

With its whirlpool of video remixes, animated .gifs, image macros and textual references, joking on Jinkela can be seen as a means of making fun of boastful advertising, stereotyped
marketing, rural culture, national products, weird foreigners on the loose, news narratives, international relations and commodity fetishism. But more importantly, the materiality of
these contents does also say something about the users who generate them, inscribing Jinkela as an absurdist symbolic panacea in the context of their everyday lives: videogames,
Japanese animation, digital platforms, international media, popular and consumer technocultures, and leisure.