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“My third leg can be flexible and unbending”

This catchy Chinese-language song “People of the Dragon” by Malaysian filmmaker and recording artist Namewee has had 7.5 million views since it was posted two weeks ago. For centuries the Chinese have used puns and wordplay to poke fun at the powerful, and it seems Namewee’s song is so full of coded uncomplimentary references to Xi Jinping and the CCP – in addition to completely uncoded ones – that there are whole videos devoted to explaining them all, many of which have received tens or hundreds of thousands of views in their own right.

I think I might just possibly have guessed that it was being a bit rude about Xi Jinping, and a bit rude full stop, from the number of references to long thin intermittently rigid things, one of which forms the title of this post.

The fun begins in the very first second. Up pops a green screen with official-looking writing on it, which I gather resembles the CCP censor’s certificate that is shown before every film. Look hard at the head of the dragon. Look, too, at the number 8964 which seems to be the number given to this particular film. 89-6-4, the fourth of June 1989. A day in Chinese history when, famously, nothing happened. Fourteen seconds later, the ugly splotch that appears at the top left of the first Chinese character in the video’s title seems to let down the fine calligraphy of the rest. One would have expected someone to catch something looking like that before it all went viral… oh, wait.

I first heard of this song from this post by Victor Mair at “Language Log”, who says that the AI replication of Xi Jinping’s voice at the beginning and the end of the video is uncannily good.

7 comments to “My third leg can be flexible and unbending”

  • The Wobbly Guy

    It’s packed full of satire, pretty good stuff. The rapping and the captions are a bit too fast for me to catch, will need several runs to parse them all.

    Lots of puns revolving around that… uhm… appendage, some of which I think require some knowledge of common dialects of the SEA region (teochew, hokkien, cantonese).

    Even had a nice shoutout to Singapore for how we’re becoming a refuge for disaffected PRCs who are scared of having their wealth (ill-gotten or otherwise) confiscated in China.

    Also a nice dig at all the Sinosphere celebs who kowtowed to the PRC in order to earn more money.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Also a nice dig at all the Sinosphere celebs who kowtowed to the PRC in order to earn more money.

    Yes, it is good to see a popular figure within the Sinosphere pushing back at the likes of Jackie Chan. I used to really enjoy Chan’s movies, and his whole persona. Now I turn away with a wince whenever I see him on the screen.

    Chan’s views on Hong Kong politics have gradually shifted from a pro-democratic stance in the 1990s to a pro-Beijing stance since the 2010s. Since 2013,[16] Chan has been a pro-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) politician, having served two terms as a delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference,[17][18][19] and, in 2021, expressing his desire to join the CCP.[20][21]

  • Paul Marks

    The People’s Republic of China is very powerful.

    For example, they bought Joseph “Joe the Big Guy” Biden by paying him one million Dollars a year – via the University of Pennsylvania (the university of the lying fraudster Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann), other members of what is now the Biden Administration were also bribed by the People’s Republic of China Communist Party dictatorship.

    It is good to see this “Social Justice” Communist Party dictatorship being mocked.

  • phwest

    Paul – The University of Pennsylvania (a private, Ivy league school) should not be confused with Pennsylvania State University (a public university) – although it is a long-standing gibe within the Ivies to mock Penn as a “state school”. It’s an easy mistake to make, as Penn is the only case of “University of ” not being a state institution, that name generally being reserved for the top public university in each state.

    Michael Mann is at Penn State. Penn has its own share of unsavory characters, but Mann isn’t one of them.

    Some additional trivia along these lines (I have a fascination with odd exceptions to what are fairly standard naming conventions) –

    New York University (NYU) is a private school and is not affiliated with the State University of New York system. The flagship state university in New York is actually Cornell University (Ivy), a unique case where a private university is part of a state system. It’s an odd hybrid where some of the colleges are state funded and subject to the rules that govern state universities across the country while most of the colleges are fully private.

    The flagship state university in New Jersey is Rutgers, because at when it became a state institution Princeton University (private, Ivy) was called the College of New Jersey. There was a bit of a to-do a while back when a small college within the New Jersey state system took “College of New Jersey” as its official name (Princeton having abandoned it at the end of the 19th century).

    Yale was for period in the 19th century the state university of Connecticut before the State Legislature changed its mind and established the University of Connecticut.

  • KrakowJosh

    Michael Mann was at Penn State, but is now at U. Penn, just to add to the confusion.

  • phwest

    Also, for those of you outside the US and not familiar with how our government universities are organized, such school are run at the state level, along with a handful of local ones (most locally funded higher education are what are called “Community Colleges”, but there is the City University of New York). The federal government did not get involved in funding education at all until the Civil War, when the Land Grant system was set up giving each state a quantity of federal land to be used to support one or more state colleges. In the older states this support was often assigned to an existing institution, in some cases already run by the state, in others privately run. The high-level public universities across the country are almost all land grant schools from this act and its successors. The other common history of public universities is to have grown from what were called “normal schools” and were 2 year post-secondary schools mainly for training school teachers, which account for most of the lower level public colleges and universities that grew out of the great post-WW II expansion of higher education.

    As is the case with a lot of Federal programs, higher education funding is a combination of funding directed to state governments for them to use supporting their institutions and grants and loans to students which they can use to cover tuition and other expenses at public or private institutions. Federal law sets the conditions which must be met before such funding can be received, but the Federal government does not directly run or establish any schools.

    Lincoln and the Republicans were quite busy during the Civil War. In addition to the war itself, the Republicans established the land grant system of public higher education, the Homestead Act allowing citizens to gain title to public land after living on it and improving it, and passed the law that would see the construction of a transcontinental railroad after the war. You will note that all three were funded by the sale of public lands (the railroads were financed by grants of land along the route). It’s interesting to contrast American expansion, which mainly consisted of Washington setting some basic ground rules and then letting citizens, businesses and states run with it, with the Canadian, which was much more tightly controlled and managed by the British and later Canadian government. Not surprising really, given that Parliament’s attempts to control Colonial expansion across the Appalachians into the interior of the continent were one of the prime grievances that led to the Revolution.

  • Paul Marks

    phwest – I apologise for my error.

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