The “grass-mud horse (草泥马)” has now become the icon of online resistance to censorship. It seems that everywhere the “river crabs (河蟹)” go, the “grass-mud horses” grow in numbers.
Professor Cui Weiping (崔卫平) teaches at the Beijing Film Academy. A literary and film critic and scholar, she is also known in Chinese intellectual circles for translating Václav Havel’s works into Chinese. She writes about the “Grass-Mud Horse” phenomenon in tecn.cn, via hecaitou.net, excerpts translated by CDT:
The Song of the “Grass-Mud Horse (草泥马)” appeared quite early, in late January 2009. The children’s chorus version was put up in early February. All these things are related to a “Special Campaign to Rectify Vulgar Content on the Internet” launched at the beginning of the year. People vent their feelings about the campaign through these spoofs.
The special campaign seems a little distant from the business of intellectuals. They may have thought that it has nothing to do with them. How can they get involved with this kind of stuff? It has to be pointed out that in many respects the latest drive resembles the Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign in 1983. Authorities announced that, “by February 10, the campaign had shut down 1,911 websites that seriously violated laws and regulations, and 269 pornographic blogs.” They have also named four batches of websites as being “vulgar,” including Sina, Sohu, Baidu and Tencent. Surprisingly, Douban, which has long been seen as a highbrow, “petite bourgeois” website, is also on the list and slated for harsh rectification.
I’ll refrain from introducing Douban from the very beginning. It will be too long a story and will sound like advertising for it. “Once upon a time, I wished Douban would become the intellectual front of our post-1980s generation, a place where we can express our thoughts and an integral
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