From People’s Pornography: Sex and Surveillance on the Chinese Internet (Intellect Books)
While much of my meanderings through Chinese pop and porn culture usually originate from conversations with friends and colleagues, occasionally I receive a message from an anonymous party whose motivations are unknown. I once received a zip file attachment with DIY photos of a young couple “caught in the act”, photos snapped outside the window of a university dormitory. To receive such a gift, from an unknown and untested source,it made me a bit paranoid, but I also realized that I had to take it at face value, as it was saying” We do have sex in China. Please include us in your collection.”
The chapter Subterranean Journey into Cross-Dressing and Transsexualism starts in Shatin’s New Town Plaza! (a hotspot of queer rebellion! ;))
I have received lot of reactions on the Internet and in the media to my forthcoming book People’s Pornography: Sex and Surveillance on the Chinese Internet. It will officially be released on 26 november and soon thereafter be available on amazon.com.
Meanwhile I have signed a contract with the Hong Kong publisher UP publications for a Chinese translation of the book. The editor Chak interviewed me about the history of banned books for their monthly magazine Life and Reading Culture. I talked about the 1960s ban of Jean Genet’s books in the USA and said “I just hope that my book will not be banned in China.” I asked him if he thought it would be safe in China. He said he was not sure and pointed to the stuffed animal on my desk, the Chinese anti-censorship animal grass mud horse (ca0 ni ma) . The problem would be the horse. Now I need to think about a horse-less version of People’s Pornography.
For many years I have been asked to censor my publications and take out all kinds of sexually explicit images or vulgar language. I have always tried to compromise but somehow cannot separate from the horse –all the surreal motions of of power and lust that it represents–how it allowed me to project my own fables and finish my book.
So do you think that the book can exist without reference to the grass-mud horse?
While being interviewed extensively yet prematurely about People’s Pornography: Sex and Surveillance on the Chinese Internet, I am so impressed with Kim Renyi’s text about DIY porn for Marie-Claire Malaysia. This article came out a few months ago, and it is ahead of its time in respecting the thrust and flavors of DIY.
Today is my 45th birthday and I had a very sweet day. I received gifts and kisses, a message from my ghost. I also actually attended a lesbian wedding organized by the Filippino lesbian organization Filguys. The young couple Jeczer and Shey were accompanied by their butch-femme “parents” and “grandparents,” and many other lesbian couples, and—-0h my goddess—-what an amazing showcase of queer pride and performance artistry. I have never seen so many beautfiful butches in my entire life, not to mention their sexy looking femme-girls, and it was indeed a very emotional moment for all those involved. Hong Kong can feel like a crusty cold patriarchy but then here we entered a space of love and subversion. Of course this is not a legal wedding but a hijacking of that sacred space of male-female entitlement, and it maintained very traditional Filippino wedding elements, like the wedding rings, and the coins, and the couple being tied together by means of a cord. The young butch Jeczer was dressed as a golden prince and gave a long and tearful speech, which was much better anything in the British royal wedding. It was also just so nice to be welcomed so warmly, to be invited to give a speech, it was one of the best queer events that I have ever had. And let’s also hope the butch-femme couple is having good sex right now. And thank you my student Ada Lee for inviting me along.
Images and Excerpt From my forthcoming book People’s Pornography: Sex and Surveillance on the Chinese Internet.(Forthcoming with Intellect Books, 2011)
The Grass-Mud Horse is supposedly a species of the alpaca. The name is derived from cào nǐ mā(肏你妈), whose near-equivalent word translates as “fuck your mother”. The greatest enemy of the grass-mud horse is the “river crab” (河蟹, héxiè) whose name resembles 和谐 héxié meaning “harmony”, referring to government censors who wish to create a “harmonious society.”(和諧社會, hexie shehui) (Lam 2009) .The grass-mud horse spurred people’s imagination as evidenced in the thousands of image-collages and mockumentaries that have appeared online. The fad spread like a benign virus and was later popularized as a stuffed animal, an activist icon-turned commodity. The popular theme song of the grass-mud horse was banned by The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television in March 2009 together with the official blocking of the entire meme itself.
The mythic figure survived and was later creatively conjoined with “Greendam Girl” (綠壩娘, lvba niang) a the satirical cartoon character who protects state interests. She preaches a compulsive rhetoric of “harmonizing the family” ,acting like a bossy government official who enjoys saddling people with moral directives. The surreal and humorous qualities of these figures tapped into a populist stream, or indeed pop culture itself, and helped to spur a viral movement of protest.
Three fairy sages transformed themselves into pitiful old men and begged for something to eat from a fox, a monkey and a rabbit.
The fox and the monkey both had food to give to the old men, but the rabbit, empty-handed, offered his own flesh instead, jumping into a blazing fire to cook himself.
The sages were so touched by the rabbit’s sacrifice that they let him live in the Moon Palace where he became the “Jade Rabbit.”
Van Sinterklaas en Zwarte Piet from the Low Lands. Make sure to be bad so I can come and get you in the new year! Yummie!