Cui Jian’s Revolution with Beer

“The German Die Zeit published this glimpse of an anti-Olympics concert by veteran rocker Cui Jian, held in a Beijing bar outside the Olympic zone. As the greatest symbol of the “nothing” generation, Cui Jian still bottles a rebellious spirit for his fans, even if it sells next to cans and drafts these days.” Translated by Steve Cotner in the Foreign Expert blog:

Cui Jian knows that he is guilty of his reputation as a rebel — the concert begins with music from Tibet. Immediately, the swinging floor quakes before the small stage, the enormous box-towers waggle; Bavarian technology has certainly not diminished. Cui Jian is a Niu Bi, call the fans. The meaning of this is rather prurient, and what it’s actually called is even worse; anyway the word cannot be printed. It is the intimate parts of the common dairy cow.

Again and again, the red flag with the picture of the singer is unfurled. As with the famous Che Guevara icon, his face shows up on it in a kind of shadow. Over the years, he has managed to take one or another state symbol and appropriate it and deconstruct it; the red star, for example, adorns his cap and the fans’ t-shirts. He reverses the colors of the Chinese flag, where the big yellow star on a red background stands for the Communist Party (the four small ones represent workers, peasants, intellectuals, and the rest of the people). Many concert-goers wear the Cui Jian star as stickers on their cheeks — even as an ironic refraction of the Olympic hysteria, with the Chinese flag tattoos having become unavoidable.

“You’re younger than Liu Xiang,” shouts the audience, by which the rocker is honored, since the tragically bushed hurdle sprinter was born two decades after him.


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