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Is This Guy the Chinese Version of Pepper Spraying Cop?
2012年 07月 10日 18:35
China might have found its answer to Lt. John Pike.
In the heyday of the Occupy movement last year, some Chinese Internet users dismissed as amateurish their U.S. counterparts佻 efforts to satirize Lt. Pike, the University of California, Davis police officer who became known across the Internet as Pepper Spraying Cop after blasting a group of seated protesters in the face with a can of pepper spray.
But in the wake of protests that turned violent last week in Shifang, Sichuan, China佻s online jesters have adopted similar tactics in mocking one overzealous riot cop whose well-documented assault on protestors has turned him into a symbol of government brutality.
In a sequence of photos that spread around Sina Corp.佻s Weibo microblogging service shortly after the protests broke out earlier this month, the policeman, whose girth matches that of the memorably paunchy Pepper Spraying Cop, is first seen in a line of riot police, pointing with his truncheon and looking disgruntled.
Pictures then show him charging, baton raised high, at a group of protestors who have their backs to him and are seemingly unaware of his brave assault. In the final photographs, he scatters the protestors and knocks over a woman before being joined by other police behind him.
The solo blitz earned the policeman, whom Chinese Internet users identified as Liu Bo, no shortage of criticism. It also fed China佻s meme machine, prompting the country佻s microbloggers to paste the most recognizable image of Mr. Liu, head ducked as he dramatically charges forward, into a whole variety of scenes.
The meme, which has been spreading over the past few days under the tagline Liu Bo is very busy,÷ show the corpulent comrade interrupting a professional football match, chasing Tom Cruise in the newest Mission Impossible film, and a house favorite closing in on 2004 Olympic gold-medal winning hurdler Liu Xiang (who looks genuinely terrified).
Comments defending Mr. Liu (the cop, not the hurdler) were hard to find, with users mostly split between open hostility and wry appraisals.
Trash, a civil war hero,÷ wrote one commenter posting under the handle My Pocket Has A Lollipop.
Another with the screen name Laizhebujue was more dry: The days of promotions [for Mr. Liu] aren佻t far away.÷
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Liu will enter the pantheon of legendary China Internet memes. More notable is the fact that he佻s even in the conversation at all: It佻s rare for censors to allow a symbol of state power like a policeman to be openly mocked following an incident of unrest.
Though it佻s hard to know just what the government is thinking in letting Mr. Liu佻s celebrity rise, the government has been surprisingly tolerant of online discussion of the Shifang protests in general. An editorial about Shifang published Monday by the Global Times, a tabloid published by the Communist Party mouthpiece newspaper People佻s Daily, may offer some insight.
Arguing that a lack of information about big events and decisions has created a crisis in confidence in the government, the editorial places the blame squarely on local governments, playing into the commonly understood trope that most Chinese distrust their local government but believe the central government is competent and well-meaning. When a local government mishandles a public affair, an apology is often absent in the aftermath of the emergency, dragging the whole official system down,÷ the editorial argued.
Are central authorities signaling to local governments that they will be forced the clean up their own messes in the future? Or are they simply providing Internet users with an opportunity to blow off steam?
There seems plenty of Mr. Liu to go around in either case.