Tag Archives: Satire

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.

http://player.youku.com/player.php/sid/XMzM5OTgwMjMy/v.swf

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).

“GaoKao Essays That Got a Zero”

Our ChinaGeeks Chinese editor 三水 pointed me in the direction of this collection of essays from last year’s college entrance examination, called “Don’t Laugh! GaoKao Essays That Got a Zero.” Many of the essays are actually quite funny, interesting, and even socially relevant, making direct or veiled references to social events. We’ve translated one of the essays below, and may translate more later if people enjoy this one.

This particular essay is quite obviously a piece of satire, and Western readers may find it reminding them of George Orwell’s Animal Farm a little bit ((In that it is a satire about a bad communist government using animals.)). It isn’t the prettiest sounding piece in the world, nor is it particularly well-organized (we must remember, after all, that there are time constraints involved in writing these essays), but the fact that it got a zero makes it pretty clear there’s a political aspect to the evaluation of GaoKao performance.

Writing Prompt

Taken from our translation of the national essay question last spring.

The rabbit is the sprinting champion of the small animal sporting games, but he cannot swim. Once, the rabbit was chased by the wolf to the riverside, and nearly caught. For the sake of developing the animals, the management enrolled the rabbit in swim training. He was in the same class as the cat, the tortoise, the squirrel, etc. The golden retriever and the tortoise learned to swim, and having acquired another skill, were very happy, but the rabbit and the squirrel still couldn’t swim even after spending a long time studying, and were very worried. Class instructor Duck said: “We, with our two legs, can swim, and you, with four legs, still can’t? 90% of success comes from effort! Come on! Quack quack!”

Critic frog sighed: “What rabbit is good at is running! Why are you only training the weaknesses and not developing the strengths? Thinker Crane said, “Life requires more than just one skill! If the rabbit can’t learn swimming he should learn burrowing, if the squirrel can’t learn swimming he should study tree climbing.”

Choose the correct perspective, firmly establish your point, choose your own style and heading, don’t write anything outside the scope of the provided material, don’t interplant or plagiarize.

Essay

Supposedly, this essay responding to the prompt above received zero points on last year’s GaoKao exam.

Oh rabbit, after reading this report, I can’t help but call you one thing from deep down in my heart: Stupid!

Haven’t you thought about what a zoo is for? Controlling animals! Isn’t the wolf an animal? You were nearly eaten by him, how is it that the zoo didn’t do jack about it? Why didn’t they punish the wolf and force the rabbit to study swimming? If there was justice, would there be any incidents of wolves catching rabbits in the zoo? Justice Lion is part of the Zoo Management, stupid rabbit!

The wolf chased you to the river, so the zoo tricked you into reporting for swimming class; next time when the wolf chases you to a cliff, will they make you report for flying class? Is the wolf chasing you just to scare you into taking this or that class? What is the relationship between the wolf and the zoo? Do you have a brain? Stupid rabbit!

I’m calling you stupid because you are stupid. Do you know who it is that runs these training classes? The zoo! Coach Duck is Park Director Tortoise’s ((The word he chose for tortoise also means, loosely, “son of a bitch”)) son-in-law. [They sent the wolf to chase you,] and now you’ve turned it around and are giving them money for training! 90% of success comes from effort, come on, quack quack! Bah! He’s a duck, are you a duck? Has it occurred to you that no one in your family can swim, from your grandfather’s grandfathers on down? After a few classes run by the zoo can they really teach you to swim? Is swimming in a rabbit’s nature? Weren’t your course entrance fees a waste of money? The golden retriever and the tortoise are even more stupid; they can swim naturally, did they spend all that wasted cash just to get a certificate? Without a certificate can they stop you from swimming? With one, will the wolf not dare eat you? Here, I need to address the golden retriever: you’ve always been a famous dog, but when running into a bad person you invariably flee, and you still spend money to study being a drowning dog? Aren’t you ashamed?

When encountering lawless people, why doesn’t the zoo encourage you to unite and rise as one to resist? Instead, they just teach you how to run. Running into the threat from a wolf isn’t a question of swimming ability, nor a question of all-around development, it’s a major question of right vs. wrong! Making money without doing any work, I think there’s no reason the zoo even needs to exist! The administrators do nothing, and conspire with the wolf, stupid rabbit!

Rabbit, I’m cursing you because you’re disappointing, why don’t you show a little independent spirit instead of just parroting other’s words and believing what others say? The duck says that if his two feet can swim, your four feet must be able to, does that make any sense? According to that theory, the centipede would be the fastest swimmer. 90% of success is effort, bah! He just became a duck, is that “success”? Is he a peerless duck? Study from him, stupid rabbit!

Then there’s the two experts, those charlatans. I have disliked that frog since last year when he came out with tears in his eyes, but at present I can’t be annoyed by it, as ‘there are more important things to attend to’. Isn’t that what he said last year? Isn’t the current threat of the wolf a “more important thing”? But he jumped out of this weak spot too, that’s his special ability, it’s called diverting attention and muddying the waters. Stupid rabbit! They’ve conspired to brainwash you, can’t you see?

And that crane is even stupider, living requires more than just one skill! If the rabbit can’t study swimming he should study digging! Bullshit, if you’ve already been chased to the river’s edge, is there time to dig a hole? You even believe this kind of expert advice, stupid rabbit!

If the wolf chases you, is that your fault as a rabbit? You don’t even have the opportunity to report it; if you report it justice lion might charge you with trying to subvert the zoo. The wolf and the lion are instruments of the zoo’s government, how could you report them? But if this kind of bad egg can’t be eradicated, is there any path for you? Studying swimming, could you avoid the wolf? I’m telling you, dogs can doggy-paddle, wolves can swim! The wolves are the dog’s forebears! Going to class is useless, next time you’re better off grabbing a pedicure knife ((A reference to the case of Deng Yujiao. Deng is a woman who, when being raped by an official at a massage parlor, stabbed him to death with a pedicure knife in self defense. At the time of last year’s GaoKao when this essay was written, her trial was about to begin and there was immense pressure on the government to go easy on her and punish the officials who survived. Everyone in the China could easily recognize this line as a reference to the Deng Yujiao case even now, at the time GaoKao tests were being graded, it was extremely obvious what the author was talking about.)).

Listen to me, I’m not wrong, stupid rabbit!

The editor who collected these essays commented on this one:

“I suggest the educational system encourage this kind of essay. The point of studying is not to echo what teachers or society like. The educational system will only be successful when it fosters the thinking and personality of students.”

“Government Historians’ Ten Minute Speed Program”

This is a translation of this post from Hen Huang, Hen Baoli, which seems especially appropriate given upcoming anniversaries that, perhaps, aren’t going to be accurately represented by government authorities.

Translation

  1. People in history can be fundamentally divided into two kinds: “good people” and “bad people”.
  2. In history, the working class were all always good people; the ruling class were always bad people.
  3. Historically, the working class was always industrious, courageous, intelligent, and correct; the ruling class was always lazy, weak, stupid, and wrong.
  4. In history, war hawks were all national heroes, every war they advocated was correct and patriotic, the peace advocates were degenerate scum and traitors to China, every time they advocated for peace it was a mistake and selling out China.
  5. Historically, whenever there was conflict between the Han people and ethnic minorities, [it was because] the ethnic minorities had invaded. The Han generals were national heroes. Whenever there was conflict between China and foreign countries, [it was because] the foreign countries invaded. The generals resisting the invasion were national heroes.
  6. In China before 1949, everyone who broke the laws, every thief and murderer was a rebel opposing the wicked ruling party. After 1949, they were were all class enemies, counterrevolutionaries, and after 1976 they were criminals.
  7. The collapse of every single dynasty was because of the corruption of the ruling class.
  8. At the beginning of every dynasty new ruling measures were adopted that were a step forward and should be regarded as positive; whatever measures they adopted towards the end were reactionary and should be firmly condemned.
  9. Before every peasant uprising in history was revolutionary activity, but afterwards they all became morally degenerate.
  10. In history, aside from [those waged by] the leaders of the Party, the eventual result of every revolution has been defeat.
  11. Every failed revolution failed because of lack of correct guidance on political theory, making the mistake of leaning too far left or right, not first joining the Party leadership, not founding and consolidating a worker-peasant alliance, etc. If it’s not one of those reasons, it’s definitely that the counterrevolutionary forces were too strong, Chinese and foreign counterrevolutionary forces united to strengthen the effort.
  12. Every Chinese scientific invention came at least a few years earlier than [it was invented] in Europe (if Europe had it first then don’t mention it at all).
  13. In recent times, the reason China is undeveloped is that imperialists strongly invaded and frenziedly looted, the reason these imperialist countries were strong is that they looted other countries.
  14. The governments of capitalist countries generally regard us with hostility, the people of capitalist countries are always friendly to us.
  15. It is the inevitable trend of history that capitalism will fall, the failure of socialism is just a complication along the road forward.
  16. Our current policy is always wise and correct, old policies were definitely flawed and mistaken. When “current” becomes “old”, the now-current policies will accordingly become flawed and mistaken

Our Thoughts

It’s an amusing piece and perhaps also some insight into the way official history comes off to Chinese people, as many of this site’s readers probably learned their Chinese history outside China and don’t spend a ton of their free time reading Chinese history textbooks (…right?). In light of the Tiananmen university, do you think he missed anything here?

Also, we would be remiss if we didn’t share with you this image from the post’s original source (Hen Huang, Hen Baoli often takes its posts from elsewhere):

Also of Interest Today: