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China: So yellow, so violent

No, not Bruce Lee. The new regulations set to hit Chinese video sharing websites later this month could be regarded as strictly a censorship move, but then there's the fact that most of these sites can't even get properly licensed. Or the hundreds of clips of violence and porn uploaded each day that please anachronistic regulatory bodies to no end.

The inescapable blog story this week, however, and perhaps related, is that of 13 year-old Zhang Shufan, who was interviewed on CCTV late last month for a report supportive of the new regulations, in which Zhang talks of a recent online experience of having a website pop up showing something she describes as both erotic and violent. ‘Websites pop themselves up?’ wondered some, as others began speculating on the possible mainstream culprits. True or exaggerated or a line fed to her, her choice of words have seen many bloggers responding with mockery and even malice, making her the victim of what some have concluded addresses an even larger and uglier problem, represented in this case by state mouthpiece CCTV‘s reporting techniques; all sorts of her personal details were dug up by netizens and posted online, prompting her father to respond in kind with an open letter, translated by Roland Soong at EastSouthWestNorth:

I am the father of Shufan. During the past few days, people have been giving Shufan funny looks. Then I found out that this was the result of the Internet activities. When I got on the Internet and read the posts, I found it impossible to tolerate. You people are really going too far. Shufan is just a child. Her world and personal views are not fully developed, and she might have said something inappropriate. But does it justify your wilfully attacking and insulting her? Not only did you use vicious language to insult Shufan, you even used Photoshop pornographic cartoons to debase her character. Do you know how much mental anguish your have caused Shufan? Meanwhile, will the person who created the Photoshop cartoon dare to stand out and identify himself/herself? I don't know if you people know what conscience is anymore.

I don't think that Shufan said anything wrong. You have started a so-called human search to locate Shufan. I can tell you that we live in Wanshou Road, Haidian District, Beijing City. You are welcome to visit us anytime. At the same time, I am warning you (especially those who did the Photoshop cartoons) that I will use the law to defend the legal rights and human dignity of Shufan and myself!

Comments characteristic of the sort being directed at Zhang can be found in English here, and this spoof video is quite tame in comparison to a lot of what's out there:

MSN Live Spaces blogger Li Lin Psy1982 sums up quite well the response to the bullying in her January 8 post, ‘CCTV might have no shame, but certain mobsters definitely have no shame~~’:

看到朋友的msn ID后缀变了,上面写着“2008年首个网络流行语——‘很黄,很暴力’”~~~怎么说呢,最近个把星期,在温哥华这个大村镇呆着,几乎和国内的新闻动态绝缘了,所以我完全不知道这个ID的典故和出处,于是很好奇地开始google~~~结果,很让人……不爽~~~

这就是典型的中国式的网络暴民的行为了~~~在GFW的封锁下,言论自由受到了限制,于是大多数网络蠢货(我的意思是,网上大多数人都是蠢货;但是还有少部分不蠢的,比如说本人~~)颇为不忿——但这是ZF的行为,怨有头债有主——长工被地主踢了一脚,于是回家打老婆出气,这种行为只能被鉴定为 IQ过低~~~


随手google出无数条恶毒的攻击,一时间竟有些难以想象,竟然有那么多人,如此热衷于向一个孩子谩骂——而谩骂的理由是,这个小朋友应该像江姐一样,面对CCTV的威逼利诱宁死不从……Bull shit~~~~mop完全可以颠倒一下尾字母,从此叫做mob…

I saw a friend on MSN Messenger changed their nickname to “The first popular phrase of 2008: ‘very yellow, very violent'”…so I curiously opened Google and what I saw…not cool.
This is classic Chinese netizen mob behavior…on lockdown under the Great Firewall, with freedom of expression restricted, most of the morons online (which is not to say everyone) for the most part aren't that angry, but this goes back to the government's behavior, and resentment sprung from feeling something is owed, or having a master: so when the laborer gets a beating from the landlord, he goes home and takes it out on his wife. This kind of behavior can only be attributed to excessively low IQ…

Which bears mention of this institution CCTV, which on IQ also scores quite low—which is why it wastes so much of taxpayers’ money, and unable to make itself any nicer, able only to come up with one very entertaining survey, and declaring itself the news network the whole country likes to watch—so with regard to IQ level, that all the morons on the internet also watch CCTV, there couldn't be a more appropriate assembly strategy…
And the countless malicious attacks I found through Google, at first glance made it hard to imagine that there could actually be so many people so zealous in launching abuse at a child—their reasoning for the abuse being that this little kid ought to have chosen ‘to die rather than surrender’ to CCTV's intimidation or enticements, which is bullshit….drop the last letter in Mop and you get Mob[…]

Peng Yi at iZaoBao writes:



Looking back to yesterday, because of one line on a well-known news program, “so yellow, so violent,” a little girl is being condemned widely by netizens. If a pack of thugs, not knowing the full truth, surrounded and gangbanged a little girl, would that be any different from our behavior in this? What we ought to be cursing out isn't this girl, but the main actor manipulating her from behind.

With the issue of pornographic and violent content, this ought to be handled by a classification system. For a law-abiding citizen, choosing what to view is his freedom. But the minute this sanctimonious state mouthpiece launched an attack on this kind of freedom in the guise of what a naive little girl says, it all becomes ridiculous and silly. I believe the target of these netizens in by no means this little kid, but the incident itself. Put another way, “we've been made fools of for far too long.”

Cultural critic Wang Xiaofeng, who refers to all his readers as chimpanzees, despite his irreverent tone has a background in law. In Zhang's case Wang takes a position similar to the one he blogged a few days ago with regard to the steamed bun non-hoax, that some regulation is warranted. To that on January 4 he wrote:


The first journalist to report on “national mantou standards” is a stupid c***;
The people who rose up to attack the National Standards Bureau are imbeciles;
The Chinese people are ignorant when it comes to the issue of standardization;
Those who link standardization with political centralization have water on the brain;
China has a widespread mass base in the counterfeit, bunk and shafted;
Yet we never stop to think just how our rights end up violated;
McDonald's’ hamburgers can be standardized, so why can't the steamed buns in the snack shops?

In his Jan. 8 post on Zhang Shufan, ‘Just who is very yellow, very violent?’, after apologizing to readers he might have offended with the frequently vulgar language he uses on his blog, and admonishing them if they don't like it not to come back, Wang writes:


To the point, about Zhang ◇◇. Since this thing was started by CCTV, let's start there. I didn't see the news report, but I don't need to, I've been watching CCTV for so many years, as if I don't know the way they work. Directors or producers have the line they want to hear, and they use trickery and entrapment to force that out of the of the interviewee. If you analyze closely, every word has possible significance, but it depends on what you say, and where you place your emphasis. TV people are all the same, you see; they might interview someone for an hour, but only end up using a few words, choosing them very deliberately, making the interviewee say what the director or producer wants to hear. Like they did with little kid Zhang ◇◇, cutting off the beginning and end of what she said, and quoting her out of context. In fact, the CCTV reporters could have opened up any major portal website's front page and taken a few very yellow very violent screenshots, but in order to make it all the more shocking, they had to drag a minor in front of the camera and say it instead, cutting straight to the essence to leave a more lasting impression. Those four words fully embody the hypocrisy of CCTV's value of what qualifies as news, at the same time exposing all Chinese people's long-accustomed tradition: unawareness when it comes to protecting minors.



In reality, I haven't seen any reflection from this; all I see is violence. I don't see CCTV earning any morality points; all I see is their ignorance and irresponsibility. Although there's nothing in China's “Protection of Minors Law” about minors not being allowed to conduct media interviews, but from the perspective of child protection, one ought to err on the side of caution. But as far as I can tell, in airing Zhang ◇◇'s name, CCTV has violated her right to privacy.



Netizens, it seems, had their G-spot poked, and immediately got all excited. As they wrote about this incident, spoofing it, they also overlooked any sense (as if they had any to begin with) of protection of minors. You can see from this that protection of minors is a long road China has yet to travel. As the many netizens got carried away in parodying this, they were in fact damaging a young person's spirit, and now her photo is everywhere. They just said it was all in fun, like declaring these four words to be the first pop phrase of the year, which is bullshit, because of course this little kid isn't their daughter or niece.



China's internet, like China's movies, face the same problem: the content should be classified., for example, which I've always seen as a porn site, the kind of portal website which perfectly brings pimps, prostitutes, virtue and morality all together. Of course, other websites are no better, they're all more or less the same. This is no better, though, than opening a brothel inside a supermarket, where everyone can see. As long as no classification system is used for the internet, there are a lot of problems which will never be solved. With a classification system, at least there would be a stronger public sense of protecting minors.

The discussion has gone semantic over at Bullog, with web veteran Beifeng defending the check-and-balance role Chinese netizens have come to play in Chinese society, arguing that netizens should be using Zhang and her phrase to say a thing or two, and about who or what that actually is, he writes, everyone is perfectly clear: at thirteen years old, she is old and capable enough to know not to lie about something like this, and to know that one only finds erotic and violent websites if one is looking for them (assuming she wasn't referring to “Skinhua”). He states, however, that this can't be taken too far, adding that it already has:



在我看来,以“未成年人”的理由来指责网友“ 畜生”的人,与欧阳志远之流也没什么两样。

The pressure Zhang Shufan is facing is the price she must pay for lying. We wouldn't have anything to say about a middle school student who told the truth, and as soon as Zhang Shufan tells everyone that she lied, or tells us under which situation it was that she saw said web page, and what sort of web page it was, I absolutely believe that the majority of netizens will stop embarrassing her. What's more, they'll feel proud of her courage to admit her mistake and face up to the truth.

What's most messed up about this is her father. If Zhang Shufan had been encouraged to lie, her father and his excuse of calling for others to be silent about this because she's a “minor”, would that be any different from Ouyang Zhiyuan‘s “insulted” argument? First off, he should represent his daughter in telling the truth, and then make a public apology.

As I see it, people accusing netizens of being “beasts” in this with the reasoning that she's a “minor”, are no different from Ouyang Zhiyuan.

The “beasts” comment he refers to comes from humorist Wang Pei, who on January 7 wrote a post “Beasts, be nice!”, since changed to read “Non-beasts, be nice!”:


That little girl who said “very yellow, very violent” has become the sacrificial lamb to certain netizens who are attacking her, to the point where her father felt he had no choice but to write an open letter.
Regarding this incident, I'm furious! Minors have the freedom to be protected from being subject to pornographic and violent content; even in the West you yearn so much to worship, this is the case.
I'm not a moralist, and I'll admit that I'm more “yellow” than any of you; if I had the money, I'd buy a double-core 8 terabyte server and fill it full of porn videos.
I also don't condone crackdowns on internet pornography, and I oppose all regulations which hurt freedom of expression and freedom to browse.
But this is not the same as you being allowed to do that whatsoever you desire, or that there is no bottom line!
BeastsNon-beasts, be nice! Let this little girl go!
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  • Bob Chen

    And I think it’s a vivid example of “displacement” so called by Z. Freud

  • Matsuo – Nauryz

    I feel sorry for the little girl.
    This is not new – this is just too CCTV, if I may use the word “CCTV” as an adjective.

    From my perspective of view, most netizens, including quite some on, were really just being harsh with this kind of “news” that CCTV can pull out, instead of the little girl herself.

    It is strangely hilarious when you see pictures with Bruce Lee or even Uma Thurman(with the Kill Bill costume) and the catch phrase in them; yet indeed inapropriate when quite some pictures have been direct mockery against the girl.

    CCTV, the head teacher at the school and the girl’s father if he knew it before the interview was taken, were to blame.

  • stephanie shi

    westerners won’t understand the meaning “yellow” in your explanation, well actually ,you should translate it into “harny”or “erotic”……

  • Charles Liu

    At least little girls aren’t put up to promote “throw baby from incubator” propaganda, unlike us in America:

  • Charles Liu

    At least little girls aren’t put up to promote “throw baby from incubator” propaganda, unlike us in America:

    And does cyber stalking over trivia happens in America? A girl was staked in myspace to suicide by the mother who didn’t what her boy to date this girl. A real estate agent was sent to mental ward when competitor posted “free sex” ad on Craigslist. The star war light saber kid in Youtube was sent in hiding.

    Freedom comes with responsibility. This kind of problem is cross cultural.


    A manipulative media + a manipulated interviewee = a manipulated news + a lot of inappropriate jokes and harangues on it + some mature reflections.

    Almost similar to what it is in Taiwan. Viewer’s opinion can be manipulated…., including the sensitive issue of nationality…. People in both the sides of Taiwan Strait need time to grow, to be more independent of media’s opinion manipulation….

    PS. Yes to Shi, ‘yellow’ in Chinese slang means horny or erotic, in a relatively derogative way.

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  • RichardS

    Thanks for putting up a summary, an interesting read.

    As a foreigner, blaming the “state media” feels a bit obvious here but I can’t resist;

    This feels like a stunt to defend censorship, especially considering the latest changes made to the online video regulations.

    An innocent little girl, exposed to “very yellow, very violent” content;

    “What a great way to take focus off all the other stuff except for porn we’re censoring! Who can argue with us censoring after this?! Anyone who argues with censorship wants innocent little schoolgirls to watch porn!”

    Nice layup CCTV. I’m glad it backfired on them.

    Charles Liu;

    The incident we’re looking at here is, maybe, caused by propaganda/awful journalism produced by _the government_.

    Star wars kid, Craigslist sex ads etc are online extensions on bullying that goes on in schools across the world anyway. And lets be honest here, the “mob mentality” and “internet witch hunts” that Wang & Chang enjoys so much are _slightly_ worse in China than anywhere else. Ask Chinabounder ;)

    (Moderator; Your Captcha is a bit too difficult imho).

  • yetaai


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