A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
I’ve seen some hardcore people in my time, but for the record, Justin Bieber isn’t one of them. Except — oops! — apparently, he is. Last week, the powers-that-be in the People’s Republic of China banned Bieber for — uh — “bad behaviour.” (So, play nice, children — or China spank.) Actually, with lyrics like “Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby” I can see China’s point, but just how subversive can a punk kid from Canada be? Canada is, after all, the Land of the Bland. We say “Sorry” as a greeting. Of course, this comes hard on the heels of China’s banning that other badass, Winnie the Pooh*. I’m still laughin’ about that one. Bieber now joins a pretty select group of notorious troublemakers. They include Harrison Ford (who, as Han Solo, was indeed, a member of the Rebel Alliance) Brad Pitt (who once made a movie called Seven Years in Tibet, a place China says doesn’t exist) and Richard Gere because — well — Richard Gere. They’ve also banned Sharon Stone, but it’s just her movies that are unwelcome in the Middle kingdom. She can show up anytime (assuming she keeps her legs crossed.)
Over the years, along with Iran and North Korea, China has been in the forefront of state-sponsored censorship. They’ve banned — or thrown in prison — all the usual suspects: poets, painters, writers, Nobel Prize winners, and generally anybody with an opinion who doesn’t keep their head down. They’ve also banned Google, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and all the other stalwarts of Western social media — plus a myriad of Western movies and television programs — including, oddly enough, The Big Bang Theory. (I guess Sheldon is a jackass in any language.) Of course, like all dictatorships, China has also bans books — thousands and thousands of books — and I suppose this is where things get serious. However, I have a lot of trouble not laughing at a regime that feels the need to ban Alice in Wonderland and Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. I can just hear the proclamation:
Will you ban Green Eggs and Ham?
Yes, I’ll ban it, if I can
I will ban it in Beijing
I will ban it in Nanjing
I will ban it here and there
I will ban it everywhere
Yes, I’ll ban Green Eggs and Ham
In Hong Kong, Szechuan and Hunan
*BTW, Winnie the Pooh’s offence was that people were using him as a caricature of President Xi Jinping, the guy who’s currently sitting on the Dragon Throne and running the show on the Yangtze. Clearly, dictators don’t like people laughing at them.