Thursday, February 03, 2011

Year of the Rabbit Rebellion

The Chinese seem to struggle to justify the inclusion of the rabbit in their zodiac cycle.  There's just nothing impressive about the animal at all.  They even seem to struggle to draw it convincingly.  Most of the 'good luck' paper cutout rabbits I've seen around town this past week or two have looked more like pigs than rabbits: flat noses, pink flesh, unfurry - and with featureless 'ears' (that look more like big cigars or elongated balloons than auditory apertures) grafted on as an afterthought.  Downright ugly, most of them; some, decidedly creepy.

I started grubbing around on the Internet in idle moments last week to try to find a decent picture to put up today to greet the Chinese Year of the Rabbit.... and this is about the least nasty one I could find (and I still find this pretty disturbing).

Ah, but then I found this poster below - which is rather more easily recognisable as a rabbit.  Well, recognisable as one particular rabbit.  Clearly, 2011 isn't going to be The Year of Serious IP Enforcement in China.

And then.... I found the short animation below - a video 'New Year's Greeting Card' that has been circulating around the Chinese Internet a lot since about the middle of January.  I hesitated to post it at first, partly because of the language issue for my overseas readers (although Charles Custer at the ChinaGeeks blog had posted an article about it with a text translation), and partly because of concern about what might happen to its creators if it attracted too much publicity (I rather fear they'll get 10 years' hard labour).  However, it's so good that I think it deserves to reach as many people as possible.  And I figure the film-makers knew what they might be bringing down on their heads when they set out to do this.  And.... a couple of days ago, an English-subtitled version appeared on YouTube, courtesy of user lodproductions90.

The pictures probably tell the story clearly enough, anyway.  In this grisly fable of modern China, the rabbits represent the ordinary people, while the 'tigers' are the ruling elites.  Anyone who follows China news at all should recognise these common sources of popular discontent: forced evictions to make way for new property developments, and the beating or arrest of anyone who resists or protests (this is what my artist friend Wu Yuren got in trouble with the authorities for); the horrendous tainted milk powder scandal; cadres (or their bratty offspring) killing people in hit-and-run accidents and expecting to get away with it; and disasters like the Karamay theatre fire.  As the film warns at the end: "Even rabbits bite back if pushed around enough."

As little Kuangkuang remarks when he wakes from his nightmare at the end of the film, "This is a significant year."  [I hate the inevitable Chinglish mistranslation 'meaningful'!]

Let's hope so.  It's time for the Tigers to realise they can't go on like this, to relax their grip on power, to begin the long overdue reform process..... before they find themselves confronting the Night of the Lepus.

Best wishes to everyone 
for a productive - and progressive - Year of the Rabbit!!!


JES said...

Working on a post of my own about this. (Damn, you beat me to the Bugs Bunny image...)

I am not only a Rabbit, but a Metal one (or Golden, or whatever it is).

Forgot about Night of the Lepus, though. Need to see if I can get that streamed to the TV. (We watched Them! the other night, so this would fit into a general "The Vermin of February" theme.)

Froog said...

Ah, I love Them!. One of the first of those '50s 'creature features' I ever saw, and it scared the life out of me. "And enough formic acid to kill twenty men..."

I look forward to seeing what else you can come up with on the Year of the Rabbit. I have a short linguistic supplement in mind... on the unfortunate homophones of 兔.