The Bigger They Are…

The Chinese government’s paranoia hit new heights this week when it banned songs by Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and the 1990’s boy band wonders, the Backstreet Boys. Clearly these performers’ songs represent a unique threat to harmony and stability. What are the Central Committee geezers so afraid of?

According to a recent article, top censors in Beijing believe that the citizenry should not be exposed to the lyrics in these songs. Evidently the words themselves and the imagery and symbolism suggested by them are so poisonous, and so inflammatory, that if 1.4 billion Chinese heard them, they might stampede into Beijing and burn the place down. Gosh. Why do the censors feel this way?

Hu Zhed Dat, of the Ministry of Paramount Paranoia, says that not only the title but also the lyrics of the Backstreet Boys hit single “I Want It That Way” include such incendiary phrases as “Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache” and “Ain’t nothin’ but a mistake,” which he feels are nothing less than naked exhortations for the people to revolt.

Katy Perry’s song, “Last Friday Night”, refers to a ménage à trois, which Mr Hu found to be not only vulgar and tasteless, but also very unlikely in China, as the One Child Policy has led to a shortage of girls.

Hu believes that Lady Gaga’s song, “The Edge of Glory“, which includes the line “I need a man who thinks it’s right when it’s so wrong” is right out of the pages of some perverse protest manual.

Beyoncé’s song, “Run the World (Girls)” is all about girls taking over, which is not to be tolerated in the male-dominated mainland. The singer revealed at the Video Music Award (VMA) ceremony last night that she is pregnant. It is not known if the baby is a girl, in which case a Chinese adoption agency may wish to buy it.

The director of China’s music censoring protectorate, Noh Toh Tapping, has issued a comprehensive list of other musical artists that are also banned from play in China: Tiny Tim, AC/DC, Mongolian throat singers, ABBA, The Chords, Blues Image, Devo, The Five Stairsteps, and Pat Boone. Punishments for airing these one-hit wonders and screechers of scrannel were not made public.

Fine arts censors also released a long list of other, non-musical artists who have been banned, either for content that is deemed too revolutionary, too contrary to harmonious Chinese values, or for simply being too non-Chinese. These proscribed artists are: mimes, especially those who do that irritating ‘stuck-in-an-invisible-box’ shtick, The Blue Man Group, all sculpture by Rodin, all paintings by Leonardo DaVinci, the paint can spill stylings of Jackson Pollock, all Lego structures, and all of the episodes of the Scottish sitcom “Still Game“.

Last on this vast taboo list would be any and all works of art known popularly as “domino toppling” configurations, since the Peoples Bullying Party fears anything that has to do with toppling. While the government censors did not explicitly ban Irish step-dancing, this fear of toppling has led them to stomp a tap-dancing shoe on the throat of social media.

Just a few days after the ban on selected songs was announced, one of China’s Twitter-like microblogging services, Sina Weibo, announced to all of its 200 million users that a handful of them were to be publicly spanked in Tiananmen Square by members of the Chinese Olympic ping pong team. Their crime? Spreading “fake and misleading rumors.” As defined by Beijing, if information is provided by official channels, it is “factual, truthful, legal and correct.” If it comes from regular people or foreign governments it is “false, illegal, incorrect and complete crap.” And if the dissemination is really critical and embarrassing to government officials, and too close to the truth regarding official government corruption and incompetence, then officially it must be defined as gibberish, but gibberish that must be stamped out.

When Weibo users heard that some of their own were to have their accounts “suspended” for a month they went ballistic, complaining — much like Americans or Europeans would — that their right to say what they want online is being thwarted. They believe that the Chinese government is behind this move, since only the government would want to prevent free speech, and only the government would have the clout to order such a large company to impose these draconian restrictions.

Indeed, last Monday a high-ranking member of the Politburo, the only arm of the Communist Party authorized to carry whips, paid a friendly visit to corporate headquarters of Sina.com. Liu Qi, the party’s Committee Secretary, is used to getting what he wants, and holds a degree in – I am not making this upsmelting. He told the company’s managers that they have been naughty and lax in allowing the unrestricted flow of criticism directed at officials of the Peoples Bullying Party.

Not only will the guilty bloggers be prohibited from collecting new followers, and forbidden to post destabilizing messages and disharmonious grievances for a month, during that time they will be beaten, hand-cuffed and gagged in a harmonious and stable wheelbarrow while being re-educated.

In recent years Chinese citizens have been enjoying unprecedented freedoms because of the Internet. (Or, if your last name is Bush, “Internets.”) Average people have been communicating like never before, and discussing news and politics just like folks from other parts of the globe. One of the trends upsetting the Peoples Bullying Party is that ordinary netizens are – gasp! –complaining openly for the first time about corruption and incompetence in government and industry, and directing anger and sarcastic criticism at specific officials. Government and industry leaders once considered untouchable are getting dumped on, and the Communist Party does not like it.

If this ominous trend continues, the “criminals” risk being severely punished. The penalty for using smart phones for the crime of spreading false and misleading rumors through social media is heinous indeed. The Chinese government will force repeat offenders to turn in their old phones, and will be issued fake iPhones made by Foxconn. Not only will these phones be pre-loaded with approved songs and videos, but will feature fingerprint-recording capabilities and GPS.

Built-in word filters will censor unsuitable messages before they are sent, and phone-hacking software provided by experts from News of the World will be listening. If the user attempts to over-ride the phone’s software, the phone is programmed to melt in the culprit’s hands, a feature developed by Liu Qi himself. And top officials at the Ministry of Paramount Paranoia announced that those microbloggers who persist in spreading false and misleading rumors will be forced to watch – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – horrible, tortuous footage of Lady Gaga strutting and babbling as “Jo Calderone.” 

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