Tag Archives: Sarcasm

In Brief: “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands”

This video has been floating around the Chinese internet for about a month now, and has accrued over 880,000 plays ((probably more, as it’s likely been reposted on other video services; the 880,000 count is just for this one Youku upload.)). It’s called “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands,” and it’s another entry in the vein of satirical independent Chinese animation.

I don’t have time to translate it line for line, but the video and a basic summary are below.


In the video, a teacher quizzes students with a series of questions. First, he asks if they know what the national emblem is used for (he points to an example of it on the 1 RMB note). They respond they do: you should run to buildings with the emblem on them whenever there’s an earthquake, since they’re the safest.

Then the teacher asks a math question: if an old lady falls down at 7:10pm, a man 200m away eating a hamburger sees it, the guy moves at 5m/sec, and the hospital is 300m from the accident site, how long will it take him to take her to the hospital. The students all do the math, but it turns out they’re wrong, the correct answer is never, because “anyone smart enough to buy a hamburger would never go help an old woman who has fallen down.”

Then, playing off the “artistic youth/dumb youth” meme, we learn that a dumb youth would kill the old lady (accidentally), and the artistic youth would just take a picture of her misfortune to post on Weibo.

Next, the teacher asks students to count the people in a photo of a luxury car. There are three sexy models in front of the car, and all the students answer three, but they’re wrong again — they’ve failed to notice that there’s a person’s arm sticking out from under the car’s rear wheel.

The following question concerns the makeup of cooking oil, and you’re probably already guessing the punchlines at this point. It’s gutter oil.

At this point, they’re interrupted by a bee, which the teacher kills, saying “this is what happens when you harm the motherland’s flowers!”

Then they get onto a bus, which crashes and breaks into pieces. All the students are killed save one, who is gravely injured. The video ends with the teacher’s ghostly voice trying to explain why students need to learn to face dangers in society (“so that later you can face more dangerous challenges”) and then the injured, armless student trying to clap along to “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands.”

The whole video is worth a watch if you speak Chinese and are familiar with net memes, as there are a bunch of other ones in there I didn’t include in this summary (and probably some references that went over my head, too).

Dealing With Protesters: A Workflow For Busy Officials

Let’s say you’re a Chinese official, and someone in your precinct is accusing you of corruption (How dare he! Just because you took a few bribes doesn’t make you corrupt!) and threatening to go public, maybe even go to Beijing. What do you do? Here’s an interesting representation of it, via Southern Weekend:

The text reads from left to right: report, slander, detain, send home.

The first step is the citizen reporting you, the corrupt official. After they report you, you accuse them of slander — not how the citizen comes out of the second shack with handcuffs on — and have them detained by the police, ideally somewhere windowless like the house shown in the picture. Who knows what might happen to them in there! Anyway, after they’re detained, they’re sent back home, properly cowed and newly obedient.

Thank god. Now you can return to matters of more pressing concern to the public, such as whether they’d rather their tax dollars go to buying you a BMW or a Mercedes.

Christmas Presents from the Chinese Government

It’s the time of year for lights, trees, bells, and creepy columns about how Christmas presents excellent opportunities for proselytizing. Even in China they’re celebrating, and the while the Chinese government may have been a bit busy fending off American ‘conspiracies’ sabotaging global efforts to combat climate change and dooming small island nations in Copenhagen this year, it didn’t stop them from picking you up a few things on the way home!

The stocking stuffer, wrapped with bright river crab-patterned paper, was chosen specially for all you internet users out there. China knows you love to surf the web, but you’re tired of all those pornographic foreign websites, and nothing irks you more than a website that isn’t registered with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Well guess what, over the next year, a fresh new crackdown on “pornography” may just require every website in the world to register with the Chinese government or be blocked. Finally! The new year is looking more harmonious already!

The true gift, though, won’t come until Christmas day itself, when Charter 08 author Liu Xiaobo is expected to be sentenced. The man wrote a document advocating democracy, equality, the rule of law, and human rights, etc. We’ve got to get him off the streets, and while nothing’s a sure bet just yet, but I feel pretty certain that all the good little boys and girls are going to see Liu Xiaobo in shackles under the tree. (UPDATE: Yup. Eleven years.)

Bad little girls and boys? Well, there’s a good chance we’ll just be getting a Grass Mud Horse.

ChinaGeeks will be taking a short break until after Christmas, probably. Forgive us for this, perhaps the bitterest ChinaGeeks post ever, but it’s been a depressing couple of weeks for freedom of speech fans who follow China. If you’re inclined to complain, be aware that you very nearly got a sarcastic parody of “The Night Before Christmas” instead of this post:

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the land,
Not a website dared stir out of fear they’d be banned;
The dissidents were locked up in prison with care,
Except for Liu Xiaobo, who soon would be there;
The citizens nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of river crabs danced in their heads;
And I, with my sweater and crushing headache,
Had just logged off WordPress to take a damn break…

The rest, perhaps, is best left to the imagination. Merry Christmas, everyone!

“Shanghai Doesn’t Welcome You”

Courtesy of Hen Huang, Hen Baoli, a sarcastic parody rock song that’s been making the rounds on the Chinese internet: “Shanghai Doesn’t Welcome You“:


(Click here for the video if the embedded player doesn’t work for you)

For those of you who weren’t subjected to blessed with hearing the song “Beijing Welcomes You” over and over in the run-up to the Olympics last year, you can check it out here to get an idea of what “Shanghai Doesn’t Welcome You” is mocking.

The complete lyrics in Chinese are available at the original post, and you might want them, because the verses and the “poem” part of the song are in Shanghainese (I assume, though I don’t speak it so I can’t be sure). Here’s our translation of the lyrics minus the “poem” bit though, which should be more than enough to get the rather simple general idea (note that we’re just translating the meaning, not trying to imitate the meter or rhyming):


Shanghai is getting harder and harder to live in these days,
From the basic necessities to eating, drinking, whoring, and gambling it’s China’s most expensive,
Shanghai doesn’t welcome outsiders or people from Shanghai,
Shanghai only welcomes the kind of people whose faces are on money [i.e., Shanghai only welcomes money],

Shanghai doesn’t welcome you,
Unless you’re coming to buy something,
But we don’t have any money on us,
Shanghai doesn’t welcome you,
The 2010 World Expo [hosted by Shanghai] is really great,
All the rich people from all over the world will be united [in Shanghai]

Underground at 93 Lingling Road there lives a rock-and-roll youth,
Five rooms underground, very cheap price,
When he’s finished rehearsing he goes to a small restaurant to enjoy himself,
What a shame that at the end of this year he’ll have to move because of the World Expo

Shanghai doesn’t welcome you,
Unless you’re coming to buy something,
But we don’t have any money on us,
Shanghai doesn’t welcome you,
The 2010 World Expo [hosted by Shanghai] is really great,
All the rich people from all over the world will be united [in Shanghai]

To be perfectly honest, the song is only marginally better in Chinese. It’s certainly not a lyrical masterpiece. But it does capture the frustration that seems to be spreading about Shanghai housing prices (and prices generally), as well as the frustration people have about being shuffled around by the government to make way for new buildings they can’t afford to live in. Put it all into a rock-and-roll mockery of one of 2008’s most obnoxiously overplayed songs and, well, we can certainly see why it’s making the rounds, even if it isn’t the prettiest song in the world.

Flagrant Misrepresentation in the Guardian

Lets say you’re a journalist. You’ve got a story about how the Chinese government recently executed several Tibetans who were arrested in connection with the riots that happened last year. Your lede reads thusly: “Chinese authorities have carried out their first executions of Tibetans in connection with the deadly riots that swept Lhasa last year, according to exile groups.”

You’ve checked Xinhua for a story on it, but they don’t have one. There’s no need to actually speak to anyone in TIbet or China — after all, what would they know about it — and you’ve already called several Free Tibet groups for comment, so it doesn’t look like you favor one Free Tibet group over another (got to keep that article bias-free!). All that’s left to do? Slap a headline on that sucker and ship it off to the presses.

Now, you could title it something like “China executes Tibetan rioters” or “First Tibetan riot suspects executed”, but that makes it like the people who were executed might have done something wrong, and we all know that Tibetans are incapable of committing crimes because they are peaceful Buddhists. You need something sexy. Something that screams “Evil empire murders innocent people,” but slightly — only slightly — subtler.

If you’re a journalist for the Guardian (not sure we can blame Jonathan Watts for this as he may well not have written the headline), you would apparently go with this: China executes Tibetan protesters. Period.

Honestly, it’s not even necessary to explain why that headline is irresponsible and, frankly, appalling, so we won’t bother. Nor is it productive to speculate on the particular motives of the headline writer. The headline is grossly misleading, and serves no one. Shame on whoever wrote it, and shame on the Guardian for seeing fit to print it.

UPDATE: For some perspective, the New York Times wrote a similar story. The headline is: Group Says China Has Executed 4 for Roles in Tibet Riots.