Date of this Version
February 19, 2009 in The China Beat http://www.thechinabeat.org/
Microfilm is deadly. Deadly for the eyes, the brain and, as I recently learned here on a research jaunt to Beijing, the stomach. So when a CD booklet on the bar of a Haidian district livehouse caught my weary eye I thought I’d found a good wall ornament for the apartment and a better image to set my evenings eyes on. The only problem was the insert – a black & white sketch of a mass of punks tossing Molotovs at a grinning Mao – wasn’t big enough. I was thinking poster size, so I took it to the first place that came to mind: my local Beijing Kinko’s.
The attendant lifted the thing to her face and, yes, things got uncomfortable. There was no mistaking the message on the graphic’s palace backdrop to the Chairman: fanzui xiangfa, pohuai (criminals minds, destroy). And I felt a bit awkward walking in as an American with this suggestive graphic, so I made sure the staff took in the CD cover: two hands, a bloodied hatchet and the head of George W. Bush. These rockers were clearly out for everyone.
The manager and attendant conferred in mutters while a third staffer busied himself with the printed album lyrics, half rendered in English. (E.g. “Kill your Television. We sit back passively as OUR culture is commoditized and force-fed back to us. We have nothing to talk about except TV’s imaginary lives that are safe and sanitized, while the real hours of our own lives are sold away as advertising space to corporations. Our lives become the commodity as the things we buy, the words we speak and the way we live all become reflections of what we watch. Smash your TV and live YOUR life!”; or “We destroy the red dream… The dream turned into a nightmare without end. Now it’s time to destroy this dream gone stale. Smash it up and find a new way!”)