In the Chinese Horoscope, 2011 is the year of the rabbit. In the lead up to New Year’s Day on Thursday (3 February), a subversive “Happy Chinese New Year” video is making the rounds.
Kuang Kuang is a cartoon character famous for blowing up houses. (video here) In his latest adventure, he opens up a picture book about rabbits and promptly falls asleep. He then goes into a dream-like state, with the Chinese children’s song “Little white rabbit, white as well as white, both ears sticking up…” (full translation here) playing over cartoon rabbits playing in a field. Suddenly the pace changes, a baby rabbit drinks poisoned milk powder and explodes. After more baby rabbits explode and die, the animation goes back in time to 1994, when a fire in Xinjiang resulted in the death of 288 students — VIPs were evacuated first. The video doesn’t get lighter: it covers forced evictions, class war (the My Dad is Li Gang meme makes an appearance) and the Qian Yunhui incident, in which a village head with a history of petitioning the authorities over land expropriation was run over by a construction truck. The brutal video ends with the rabbits killing and eating their oppressors (who are portrayed as tigers — this lunar year is the year of the tiger). The final scenes are bloody and violent.
Wang Bo, who goes by the internet pseudonym Pi San, works for the cartoon company that created the video. Hutoon makes promotional and commercial pieces for clients such as Motorola as well as these self-proclaimed “adult cartoons” that are passed over by traditional media. Not for the underage, the violent Rabbit Year New Year video has been deleted by both of China’s major video hosting websites, Youku and Tudou. The Youtube video, however, is still accessible. On the Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Report blog, Pi San talks about his motivations:
“I felt this past year was really depressing, so I wanted to create this thing for fun,” the director of the cartoon, who goes by the online name Pi San, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “People need to vent their emotions…. As a member of the general public, I feel unhappy about some things in society and I need to give vent to my unhappiness. Everyone has their own way to express themselves: some go shopping and others wear makeup. For me, I vented by making this video. I thought I could express my feelings this way.”
Despite the obvious censorship issues, Pi San still chose to risk making the animation. This is rare in China, as most internet users are happy just to sit back and comment on explicit videos that contain overt political messages. Chinese youth are often accused of being apathetic towards social issues and political change. Pi San challenges this notion; even though he’s just “venting”, he is making provocative statements about events that have affected a nation.
Most of the comments on this specific video have been deleted from video and comment sites; the video isn’t even listed on the animator’s website . However, the timing of the video — at the lunar year’s end — and its subject matter has fired off the imaginations of people watching it across the internet, but only after they skip the Great Firewall.