Tag Archives: Video

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).

A Minor Inconvenience

While we were up in dongbei shooting a documentary last month, we ran into this situation completely unintentionally. We walked to this street, Kedong’s main thoroughfare, in the hopes of catching a cab, only to discover there were no cars on the road. We shot a good bit of it; here’s what happened:

Passing of the Governor from ChinaGeeks on Vimeo.

I didn’t bother editing this video for color or anything, but it’s not going into the documentary, so I thought it might be worth sharing and discussing here. Obviously, as official transgressions go, this is quite insignificant. And it wasn’t a huge hassle for us to wait half an hour before being allowed to cross the road, since we didn’t have anywhere we needed to be anyway.

I’m posting this because I think it’s indicative, more than anything, of an attitude that plagues Chinese officials. How much of an inconvenience would it really have been for the provincial governor to drive through town with other cars still on the road? Surrounded by an army of police cars and with police standing guard up and down the street, he certainly wasn’t in any physical danger. And it’s not like Kedong, which has remarkably wide streets for its tiny population, was going to have a traffic jam at three in the afternoon.

I’m also wondering what people think. In the evening, I mentioned this to the family that I was staying with, some of whom are devout government supporters, expecting them to say that the governor deserved special treatment. To my surprise, not a single one of them said that. “You should have filmed it so you can post it online and expose him,” someone said. Everyone agreed that closing the road for hours so that the governor could drive through Kedong (a process that took about 30 seconds, as you can see in the video) was ridiculous, and they wondered why I was told not to film it (it’s not like they were trying to travel undercover, after all…)

So what do you think?

Catching Up With Ai Weiwei

We’ve written an awful lot about Ai Weiwei over the past year, but things have been fairly quiet from him in the past few months. Well, until recently.

First, there’s his hourlong documentary on his attempt to testify in Tan Zuoren’s court case. The entire video is on Youtube and you can watch it, complete with English subtitles, at CDT, but in case you haven’t got an hour to kill watching people yell in Chinese, here’s what we took away from it:

  • The film does include audio footage of Ai Weiwei being hit (the camera was on but the lens cap was covered). Of course, it’s impossible to tell what really happened but there’s the clear sound of Ai’s hotel door being broken down, followed by what sounds a lot like a very solid punch. Ai said he was hit in the head, and eventually he needed surgery for the injury. He is only hit once, although in this case it seems as though once was enough.
  • Most of the film concerns Ai and his team (which includes lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan as well as one of Tan Zuoren’s lawyers) wading through red tape to attempt to negotiate the release of Ai’s assistant, who had been detained in the same midnight raid that Ai was beaten during, but never released. They are sent from one police officer to the next, each offering very little help, and often making them wait or refusing to respond directly to any questions.
  • The lawyers repeatedly attempt to handle the situation responsibly, reminding the police that the law dictates they can only detain someone for 12 hours if they aren’t being arrested. Unsurprisingly, though, Ai Weiwei often bursts into the conversation with more heated words. He’s clearly very, very angry, and while his outbursts are totally unproductive, in the face of the things they’re being told, his frustration is understandable. As he notes, he had already been arrested twenty-two times in 2009 (at that point) and was likely getting tired of the same excuses.
  • The police, too, get frustrated, as Ai’s group is knowledgeable enough in the law to be a policeman’s worst nightmare. Both sides are extremely distrustful of each other, and one of the last arguments finally reaches a fever pitch that concludes with someone screaming, “FINE, LET US SHOW OUR IDs TO EACH OTHER THEN!” (Mutual identification and the sharing of ID credentials is a contentious issue throughout)
  • As they leave the building, they are harassed by more police, who attempt to confiscate their cameras, although they are already on a public street and were filming the police station from the outside. A long argument ensues, but perhaps the most interesting part is when one of Ai’s lawyers offers his ID and the policeman takes it. In desperation, several members of Ai’s crew all lunge for the ID before the man can confiscate it, shouting, “Just look, you cannot take it!” The fear in their eyes is palpable, a sobering reminder of just how much rides on something as simple as having proper ID.

Of course, the whole reason Ai was in Sichuan was to support Tan Zuoren and his Citizen’s Investigation into the deaths of the students in the Sichuan earthquake. While Ai has released his list of names before, we thought we would link to it again, as he’s now posted it in a much more readable Google spreadsheet. There’s not much to translate, but the columns read as follows (from left to right): Name, Gender, Birthdate, Age (at time of death), School, Class/Grade. So far, there are 5,212 names.

Ai also commented today on the news that human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was giving up activism after a year of detention (and other previous instances of detention and torture) in the hopes that he will be allowed to see his family. According to numerous reports, Gao has seemed out of sorts since his “release” — though he clearly hasn’t been truly released — and Ai made it clear he holds nothing against Gao for bowing out of the fight. In a tweet earlier today, he wrote:

“Lawyer Gao, no one will be disappointed with you. Everyone knows who it was that has harmed your family, harmed your children, harmed the Chinese people, and shamelessly harmed you yourself.”

Ai also wrote today that “Lies and violence are two great pillars of totalitarianism. One could say that lies are just another kind of violence.”

…Brother is Only Legend

Perhaps you’ve already seen this. Still, we’re going to add to the madness because it’s fun, and because sometimes even very serious China watchers like us enjoy watching videos about crazy men with knives wearing underwear and threatening their bosses.

First, the video (h/t to Ryan of Lost Laowai, click the link if the embed doesn’t work for you). It is quite entertaining, and tells the story pretty simply. Our translation of the video and the lyrics in the background music are below:
http://player.youku.com/player.php/sid/XMTQ4NDU0ODA0/v.swf

Main Title: Double Swordsman in Crowded Shopping Area Seeks Money, Police Use Special Techniques to Subdue Him.

Scrolling subtitles (loosely translated): On the 26th, a Guangzhou man took his pants off and attacked the door of his company with “pig-killing knives” after being denied workers compensation for an injury he suffered. He said: “I have no clothes, no food to eat, I can only steal [to survive]. It’s not that I don’t want to be a good person, it’s that my family environment and the reality of society today haven’t given me an opportunity. Rich people have everything, I don’t even have cigarettes to smoke. Rather than resigning myself to living like this, it’s better to use this method [i.e., taking to the road in one’s underpants and a butcher’s knife] to change my destiny.” The police used special methods to subdue him, and no one was injured. According to the man’s former boss and work friends, he was willfully causing trouble and [trying to] blackmail [them].

Song in the Background:Don’t Be Infatuated With Brother” (click to download MP3 version)

This song is one of many, many jokes to come of the popular 2009 internet meme, see this for more details. Here are the lyrics, translated:

Chorus: Please don’t be infatuated with brother anymore, brother is only a legend,
Although I hate to leave [you], I still must say it,
Please don’t be infatuated with me, I am only a legend,
I’m never lonely because you were once with me

Rap Verse (in English): Rap:When everybody says someone is a hero
No one really knows the truth about an idol
Whose inside is pretty lonely n vulnerable
Wishing therell be someone who do know
One time, he set himself a high goal
He wants to be there as a role model
Ever since then life becomes a live show
Real time show without any rehearsal

Verse: Every legend fades with time,
Every strong person has setbacks and hardships,
The reason they live free is because they understand what to accept and reject,
The reason they are aloof is that they can see through everything
Please don’t be infatuated with brother anymore, brother is only a legend,
Although I hate to leave [you], I still must say it,
You must remember me, I will always be drifting aimlessly,
Brother will not be lonely because brother has loneliness accompanying him,
Don’t be infatuated with me, I am only a legend,
Although I feign cold detachment, it’s because I don’t want to be sad again,
Please don’t be infatuated with brother anymore, brother is only a legend,
I’m never lonely because you were once with me.

(Verse and chorus repeat)

Coda: The reason love also must be given up is because it’s led to nothing,
If I say it you won’t understand, so let’s sing this song together,
Please don’t be infatuated with brother anymore, brother is only a legend,
Although I hate to leave [you], I still must say it,
Please don’t be infatuated with me, I am only a legend,
I’m never lonely because you were once with me

Fun times! But seriously, is it just me, or does this kind of thing seem to happen a lot? There’s the Chunxi Road Swordsman (pictured), crazy brick-throwing man, and I could swear I remember a story of another pantsless man taking to the streets with weaponry on ChinaSMACK, but I can’t find it anymore.

Anyway, what’s actually interesting about all this is the comments netizens have been making about it, with many expressing some sympathy for the man. One commenter wrote (translation by Fauna of ChinaSMACK):

With so many bitter/long-suffering people in society, he is just a relatively extreme one, and I sympathize.

Those people laughing, imagine for a moment if that person was your guys’ father. Would you still be able to laugh?

Clearly, netizens are quite conscious of the tension and frustration that can exist on the lower rungs of Chinese society. It is a tension that, if the number of armed, pants-less men on the street is any indication, seems to be building. It’s probably something we should take seriously. Or maybe not:

So what do you think? Serious social problem, hilarious photoshop material, or both?