amw (amw) wrote,

Weekend long read: censorship, Hollywood and Uncle Roger

The latest cancel culture drama was around Malaysian stand-up comic Nigel Ng, better known as his YouTube character Uncle Roger.

During pandemic, a few months back, he did a joke reaction video where he played a stereotypical Chinese uncle watching a British cooking show where they pretty much butchered the preparation of fried rice. Clips of it went viral on TikTok and the character blew up.

Fast forward a few months, this guy is doing Uncle Roger video every week, mostly reaction videos, but sometimes turning up in person to roast customers at Asian restaurants or joke about stuff in the Asian diaspora.

This is a fairly common YouTuber format. There is also the Fung Brothers and countless other people in the diaspora who travel around and eat food and show their Asian pride to an audience which i think is mostly diaspora people, maybe a few white people. There is some overlap with the expat YouTuber community, where you also can see delicious food and gushing, positive stories about China and East Asia in general.

Anyway, last week Nigel Ng invite Chinese American Mike Chen on his show and they do a double reaction video, roasting some poor Filipino/Thai American chef for his ugly dumplings. And the comments section EXPLODED. Because, you see, Mike Chen is a member of Falun Gong, a religious movement that the Chinese Communist Party detests.

Almost immediately the video gets taken down without any comment or explanation on YouTube or any of the western (outside Great Firewall) social media. But Nigel Ng makes this big, groveling, apologetic statement on Weibo (Chinese Twitter) about associating with people who have an "incorrect" view.

This is barely reported in the western press or on western social media, because as usual, western media do not care about Asian diaspora. They also do not care about YouTubers, even with millions of subscribers. But also, i guess they were too busy arguing about whether or not Trump and his cronies should be censored.

Well, people, this is the fucking world champion of censorship coming to give every "well it's only in the interests of national stability" apologist a right proper schooling. This. This is the censorship endgame.

Now, there is a deeper story here about Falun Gong in particular, since (like many movements that have been completely obliterated by the CCP inside China), they have taken to using the CCP's own propaganda tactics against it. The CCP accuse Falun Gong of being a dangerous and bigoted cult, like some kind of domestic Satanic Panic thing. So Falun Gong accuse CCP of organ harvesting and manufacturing the coronavirus as a WMD.

Epoch Times newspaper is owned by Falun Gong - it is a full-blown pro-Trump, QAnon, anti-vaxxer crazytown tabloid. Any reasonable liberal in America would look at Epoch Times and immediately assume Falun Gong are exactly the nutjobs the CCP says they are, now CCP wins this propaganda battle. But a right-winger will have exactly the opposite view, and see CCP as a bunch of murderous thugs. Which they are. The fallout on American politics is just collateral damage.

This propaganda war is no joke. There are countless instances of alt-right personalities and agitators supporting the Hong Kong protestors, for example. That doesn't mean all the Hong Kong protestors are right-wing loonies (a message the CCP would very much like to portray, so they win the sympathy of American liberals), it just means that sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my friend. This is further confused by memes like Pepe the Frog or NPC Wojak having a less politically-charged meaning in Asian communities than in America, where they are associated with the alt-right.

There is no simple good and bad here. This is a complex set of competing parties, most of whom are very entrenched in their views and very cynical in their tactics.

But here's one thing that shouldn't happen. Two fucking comedy YouTubers getting together to joke about how to make dumplings should not be such a political faux pas that it requires removing the video and apologizing to the (much, much) bigger bully in the room for "bad social impact". WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK IS THIS SHIT.

Of course Chinaboos and useful idiots point to the fact that Mike Chen is also employed by Falun Gong propaganda networks, so his dumpling channel is really just a front being used to radicalize people. The hypocrisy is rich, since all of these self-censoring for CCP motherfuckers who make innocent "China is great" videos are exactly the same gateway drug.

And, yes, i am especially pissed off about this, since it was literally commenting on this topic that got me reported to HR at my company back in Shenzhen. This is how deep the censorship goes, how intensely this government will strong-arm anyone who speaks out against their propaganda programs.

Well, the BBC did do a short article on this, since the original Uncle Roger video was roasting their own shitty fried rice recipe. The best part of the article was when they linked to this incredibly good report about how self-censorship works in Hollywood.

If you care even just a little bit about movies and pop culture, or international politics, i cannot urge you enough to click on that link and read about exactly how the CCP has been getting Hollywood to modify its content for decades. It is a very long read, but it loops in everything. The Xi administration's crackdown on censorship, why the Tibet story disappeared from the public consciousness after the 1990s, the true embarrassment of how China dealt with coronavirus, the understanding that America is no longer the world's biggest entertainment market, the unfree trade practices of the China/Everywhere Else relationship and so on.

Make no mistake, we in the west already lost this war. CCP already won the battle over our entertainment. Now what we really need to think about is how we respond to that. Are we going to employ the same tactics to censor our own entertainers and politicians? Are we going to try strike back using the same kind of propaganda based on rumor and fake news? These are really important questions that i wish more newspapers in the west would address.
Tags: china, news, politics

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