Long Duck Dong, freedom fighter! The NY Times has a report about a fascinating protest movement that's sweeping the Chinese internet. In response to a massive political crackdown by government censors, ostensibly targeting vulgarity and porn, millions of net users have adopted and expanded on a suggestive parody named after the country's leading search engine: the Baidu 10 Mythical Creatures.
Though they're written with completely innocuous characters, the ten creatures all have names that sound like obscene or sexually explicit slang. The second creature, 法克鱿, the French-Croatian Squid, pronounced "Fa Ke You," is probably the clearest example of the concept for English speakers.
But the animal that's become a runaway, anti-censorship hit is 草泥马, Cao Ni Ma, the Grass Mud Horse, which look an awful lot like alpacas. [Ironically for a story about obscenity and censorship, the Times can't even bring itself to hint that "cao ni ma" sounds like "F--- your mother" in Mandarin. Fortunately, Wikipedia has no hangups about explaining all ten Baidu creatures' pervy references.]
The protest's most effective incarnations are Wonder Showzen-style mashups of the officially innocent and the outrageously offensive. So there are happy children's choirs singing about "Cao ni ma! Cao ni ma!" and adorable Chinese folk rap [!?] cartoons with an awesome, calligraphic animation style.
The Nanfang Daily in Guangzhou reports that a local toymaker has produced the first batch of 150 Grass Mud Horse dolls. Named Mahler and Gobi after the CNM's desert habitat, the adorable little animals are only 40RMB apiece, less than six dollars US. I'd totally buy some of those as part of a stimulus package. No pun intended, of course.
A Dirty Pun Tweaks China's Online Censors [nytimes]
track down the videos and songs via the Grass Mud Horse tag at China Digital Times [chinadigitaltimes.com]
Baidu 10 Mythical Creatures (Internet meme) [wikipedia]