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February 27 2014

Brazilian Activist's Video Satire Censored After Globo TV Claims Copyright

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“No censorship”: William Bonner and Patrícia “Correta” in “the video that Globo doesn't wan't you to see”.

[All links lead to Portuguese-language pages unless otherwise noted.]

A video posted on Facebook skewering TV giant Globo Television Network's nightly news program for inaccuracies has been removed from the social network after Globo claimed copyright infringement, according to the video's author, Brazilian activist and filmmaker Rafucko

The video montage, published online on February 18, 2014, took on an editorial from Globo's main TV newscast “Jornal Nacional” (National News) to expose their manipulation of information about protests that have rocked the country since June 2013. In the video, the activist posed as journalist Patricia Poeta (in his humorous version, Patricia “Correta”, meaning “correct”) and corrected the comments of her fellow journalist William Bonner. Both are news anchors for “Jornal Nacional”.

Among the corrections are the role of Globo's journalism in the coverage of the death of cameraman Santiago Andrade during a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro [en]; the false accusations made by newspaper O Globo against State Representative Marcelo Freixo alleging that he was involved with protesters who were accused of killing the cameraman; the network ‘s insistence on calling protesters ”thugs” or “vandals”; and its attempts to equate the defensive violence of the protesters with the violence of the military police, which is responsible for 75 percent of attacks against journalists, according to the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism.

In just eight hours, the satire had attracted more than 40,000 views, and many viewers republished it on other platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. However, many of these versions were also censored at the request of the Globo Network, the activist said:

Quem baixou, pode repostar! Em breve reposto, com o slogan: “o vídeo que a Globo não quer que você veja”. Vai ser sucesso. Já é.

Whoever downloaded it can repost it! Soon, I'll repost it with the slogan: “the video that Globo doesn't want you to see.” It will be a success. It is already.

On the same day, Rafucko protested on his blog against what he considered to be censorship:

Não é à toa que um dos gritos mais ouvidos nas manifestações diz “a verdade é dura, a Rede Globo apoiou a ditadura (e ainda apóia)!”

Na última semana vimos a emissora dedicar extensas reportagens e editorias para versar sobre a liberdade de expressão. Desde o início das manifestações, a Rede Globo utiliza sistematicamente imagens de coletivos de mídia independente sem dar créditos ou pedir prévia autorização.

Entretanto, meu vídeo satirizando o Jornal Nacional foi retirado do ar menos de 12h após sua publicação. O papo dos “direitos autorais” eu dispenso.

No wonder that one of the most heard chants in the demonstrations says “the truth is hard, Globo supported the dictatorship (and still supports it)!”

Last week, we saw the broadcaster devote extensive reports and editorials to the subject of freedom of expression. Since the protests began, Globo systematically uses pictures of independent media collectives without giving credit or asking permission.

However, my video satirizing “Jornal Nacional” was taken down less than 12 hours after its publication. All this chit chat about copyright, I dismiss it.

Activist Pedro Ekman criticized Globo Network and commented on the copyright issue: 

A Globo é a maior censora da internet brasileira. A retira conteúdos alegando ter direito autoral sobre eles. A Lei de Direito Autoral determina que é LIVRE o uso de pequenos trechos de obras protegidas por direito autoral para fins de crítica e sátira. Mas respeitar leis nunca foi muito a prática da Globo, vide 1964.

Globo is the largest Brazilian Internet censor. It removes content claiming to have copyright on them. The Copyright Act states that it is FREE to use a small snippets protected by copyright for the purposes of criticism and satire works. But respecting laws was never Globo's practice, see 1964 [the year the dictatorship began in Brazil, with the support of Globo].

Journalist Bruno Natal added on his blog:

Nos EUA, por exemplo, essa alegação mambembe de violação de direitos autorais não colaria, porque lá existe uma lei chamada Fair Use (Uso Justo), que permite a reprodução de qualquer material protegido desde que dentro de um contexto pertinente, o que claramente é o caso aqui. Afinal, como o Rafucko pode criticar o editorial sem mostrá-lo?

Isso pra não entrar no âmbito da liberdade artística, antes que alguém venha dizer que ele não precisava mostrar o vídeo, mas bastaria citá-lo (quem escolhe a forma é o artista).

Só tem um nome pra isso e vc sabe qual é.

In the US, for example, this shoddy claim of copyright infringement wouldn't stick because there exists a law called Fair Use, which allows for the reproduction of any copyrighted material within a relevant context, which is clearly the case here. After all, how can Rafucko criticize the editorial without showing it?

That, to not go into artistic freedom, before someone comes to say that he need not show the video, but suffice to quote him (who chooses the way is the artist).

There is only a name for this and you know what it is.

The next day on February 19, Rafucko thanked his followers for republishing the video. In the same post, he stated that before being censored the video had reached 500,000 views online, becoming the most watched of his filmography, and added:

Quando se fala pela liberdade, toda tentativa de repressão e censura amplifica nossa voz.

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Original video censored.

When speaking for freedom, every attempt of repression and censorship amplifies our voice.

Tatiane Rosset commented on Youpix blog:

Como a internet não é boba nem nada, existem outros meios para assistir o viral, onde Rafucko interpreta Patrícia Correta (piadinha) corrigindo o colega de bancada durante o editorial. Um deles são as várias repostagens feitas no próprio YouTube (uma já tinha mais de 400 mil views quando foi retirada, e outra está em 190 mil).

A outra, é claro, é através do Vimeo. Porque, por algum motivo, todos as pessoas com o ~~rabo preso~~ no país esquecem que o YouTube é o principal, mas não o único meio de veicular vídeos online

A censura, pedida pela Rede Globo por “infringir direitos autorais”, levanta o questionamento: Até onde a liberdade de expressão rola online? O universo digital é realmente livre?

As the Internet is not stupid or anything, there are other ways to watch the viral video in which Rafucko plays Patricia Correct (little joke) correcting her fello anchor during the editorial. One of them are several reposts on YouTube itself (one already had more than 400,000 views when it was withdrawn, and another is at 190,000).

The other, of course, is through Vimeo. Because for some reason, all the people who are ~~compromised~~ in the country forget that YouTube is the leading platform, but not the only means of publishing online videos.

The censorship requested by Globo for “copyright infringement” raises a question: How far does freedom of expression go online? Is the digital universe really free?

The video can still be watched at YouTube and Vimeo.

February 25 2014

Jamaicans Make Do with Fake Verdict in Vybz Kartel Trial

The satirical website FakeJamaica shares fictitious breaking news about the Vybz Kartel murder trial:

The Jury returned a verdict of not guilty. The…defendant’s lawyer Tom Tavares-Finson…based a significant portion of the defense’s case on the idea that Adijah Palmer cannot be held responsible for anything that his musical persona does.

Reposted bydarksideofthemoon darksideofthemoon

February 22 2014

Malagasy React to SI Swimming Suit Issue and Model's Take on Madagascar

The 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimming Suit Issue was shot on Nosy Iranja (Iranja Island), Madagascar:

Nosy Iranja is known as the Turtle island for the Hawksbill Turtles came to shore to lay their eggs. It is also known for the spectacular sandbank that bridges the two nearby islands.

Nosy Iranja, Madagascar - Public Domain

Nosy Iranja, Madagascar – Public Domain

Russian Top model Irina Shayk and wife of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo said that she has a special relationship with Madagascar:

When I was a student I did a report on Madagascar, and ever since then it was my biggest dream to go there [..] The (Malagasy) people live and get by every day walking in the roads, living this super simple life, and they're still happy. It is an experience that keeps you humble, puts things in perspective.

Rakotonirina Miaro wonders why the world outside Madagascar seem to appreciate the island's treasures but Malgasy citizens cannot seem to notice [mg]:

Ny olon-kafa maita ny hatsaran'ny Nosin-tsik fa ny tompony jay no tsy mahafatatra fa tsar i Gasikara! Tsara daholo ny mannequin naka sary é!

Foreigners know how beautiful our island is but we, who live here, do not seem to appreciate about our own treasures. Oh yeah, and the swimming suit models were not bad looking either

February 19 2014

The President That Could Not Stand His “Stan”

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev wants to rename his country Kazak Yeli (Kazakh People), dropping a “stan” suffix synonymous with obscurity, human rights abuses, post-Soviet corruption and Borat. 

According to the “Leader of the Nation”, one of the many titles the 22-year president has had bestowed on him by a pliant political elite, such a shift will change international perceptions of the country and distance it from its poorer, less secure stan-ending neighbors.

During a working visit to Atyrau last week, the president was quoted as saying [ru]: 

В названии нашей страны есть окончание «стан», как и у других государств Центральной Азии. В то же время иностранцы проявляют интерес к Монголии, население которой составляет всего два миллиона человек, при этом в ее названии отсутствует окончание «стан». Возможно, надо рассмотреть со временем вопрос перехода на название нашей страны «Қазақ елі», но прежде следует обязательно обсудить это с народом

In our country's name, there is this ‘stan’ ending which other Central Asian nations have as well. But, for instance, foreigners show interest in Mongolia, whose population is just two million people, but whose name lacks the ‘stan’ ending. Probably, we ought to consider with time the issue of adopting Kazak Yeli as the name of our country, but before that, we definitely need to discuss this with the people.

But discussing things with the people is not Nazarbayev's speciality. In June Last year Global Voices reported on an innovative online reaction to state attempts to increase the pension age for women, a move that came as a nasty shock to female citizens. Last week the country announced a 19% devaluation in its national currency, the tenge – another unpleasant surprise to the average Kazakhstani. Small protests against the devaluation have resulted in arrests.

Changing to Kazakh Eli on the stamps will certainly cost money.  Moreover, in light of Kazakhstan's recent decision to devalue the national currency, the stamp will be worth less than it was before.

Changing “Kazakhstan” to “Kazakh Eli” on postage stamps will certainly cost public money. Moreover, in light of Kazakhstan's recent decision to devalue the national currency, the stamp will be worth less than it was previously (Wiki Commons).

Territorially Central Asia's largest republic, Kazakhstan is rich in oil. The country has consistently been the subject of human rights organizations’ criticisms, with Human Rights Watch recently accusing president Nursultan Nazarbaev’s regime of torture, censorship, and the persecution of political opponents. (Less serious accusations may now emerge from Mongolia, a country Kazakhstan almost borders, and one whose population is actually closer to 3 million people than 2 million.)

Nazarbayev has spent a sizable cut of the country's oil wealth on improving the country's image, especially in the wake of the 2006 release of British-American mockumentary/comedy Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The movie, which was filmed in Romania, enjoyed massive commercial success in the West, portraying Kazakhstan as a country where people drink horse urine and where national pastimes include rape, incest and shooting dogs. The film also highlighted the republic's sibling rivalry with another notorious stan, Uzbekistan. One of Kazakhstan's most famous image-makers has been former British Prime Minister Tony Blair

A done deal?

To listen to politicians in the country's weak parliament, one might think the “Kazak Yeli” public discussion referenced by Nazarbayev had already taken place. One MP in the Kazakh Majlis, Jumatay Aliev, said [ru] the president and the people's voice were one: 

 Если что-то президент говорит, он опирается уже на сложившееся мнение. Народ этого хочет, и мы должны идти к этому, иначе нельзя. Это желание народа.

If president says something, he bases on the existing opinion of people…People want it, and we need to move to that direction, otherwise it is impossible. This is the will of people.

Commenting under the article quoting Aliev, kzp-astn begged to differ [ru]:

Откуда вы берете это – “Народ этого хочет”? Кого то конкретно спрашивали? Меня, тебя, твоих родителей, братьев, сестер, может кого то из ваших коллег? Может сосед ваш пришел и сказал, мое мнение спросили я ответил что согласен! Лично я против переименования, и все мои знакомые тоже против!

Where do you get this – “People want it”? Did they ask anybody specifically? Me, you, your parents, brothers, sisters, maybe some of your colleagues?  Perhaps, your neighbor came and said he had been asked for an opinion and had agreed! I personally am against renaming, and all my acquaintances are as well!

Another user of popular Russian-language social network VKontakte Artur Pilipets, tried [ru] to get a feel for the suggested name:

-Откуда ты?
-С Казах ели.
-Где это???
-В Казахстане.

- Where are you from?

- From Kazak Yeli.

- Where is it???

- In Kazakhstan.

While regional commentator @randomdijit tweeted mischievously:

@pashab05 went further, offering new names for Uzbekistan, based on the stage name for President Islam Karimov's pop star daughter, and Kyrgyzstan, based on the country's Manas epos:

Humor aside, the re-brand proposal earned a mixed reaction from the person on the street when Radio Free Europe's Kazakh service  began Nazarbayev's promised public discussion on the dictator's behalf. Some people saw the need to dump “stan” but didn't think Kazak Yeli had much of a ring, while a Russian-speaking citizen objected to Kazak Yeli on the grounds that it further emphasized one nationality in this multinational Central Asian state.

Mostly, support for the change has come from patriots who see it as an opportunity to make a clean brake from the Soviet Union. One netizen, Саят (Sayat) led the rallying cry [kz]:

Шет елдіктер Стан дегенін талай естігенім бар. Қашанғы Стан боламыз , ойланайық ағайын . Алға Қазақ елі!

I heard many times foreigners calling us Stan. For how long shall we remain Stan, let us come to our senses, gentlemen. Forward, Kazakh people [Kazak Yeli]!

This post is part of the GV Central Asia Interns Project at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

February 14 2014

Trinidad and Tobago: The Soca Kings Play Songs of Anti-Love

According to the advertisements, the headliner at this evening's “Ladies Night Out” Valentine's Day concert in Port of Spain, Trinidad, is soca music star Bunji Garlin, but that may be more a marketing ploy than anything else. Garlin is the current golden boy of Trinidad and Tobago's music scene, in the wake of winning Soul Train and MTV Iggy awards for his 2013 hit song, “Differentology“. The concert's actual moral centre, if you will, is the American R&B crooner Peabo Bryson, who made a name for himself in the 1980s with ballads like “If Ever You're In My Arms Again”, “Tonight I Celebrate My Love”, and the theme song from Disney's “Beauty and the Beast”. Unlike Bryson, the other performers in the lineup—all soca artists—will have to dig deep into their repertoires to find a song extolling the kind of values Valentine's Day represents. The performer needing to make the least effort might well be Mr. Killa, a singer from Grenada whose song this year is a tribute to plus-size women called “Rolly Polly Girls“.

It could be argued that this is all Valentine's Day's own fault, for falling in the middle of the festival nearest and dearest to the Trinidadian heart. Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival, arguably the world's pre-eminent pre-Lenten festival after the one in Brazil, is a season when conventional morality takes a back seat to spontaneous expressions of the kind of behaviour frowned upon by clerics and other supposed gatekeepers of the human soul.

In the last century, there were only 23 years in which Valentine's Day did not fall within the Carnival season. This year, the two days of Carnival proper are March 3rd and 4th, but since the week after Christmas the country has been swept up in the euphoria of the festival. Against the backdrop of an spiralling crime rate (in this nation of 1.4 million there've been over 60 homicides since the beginning of 2014), people are partying like it’s business as usual. Except for world wars (the festival was put on hold between 1942-45) and epidemics (polio, back in 1972), nothing stops the Carnival.

This evening, many Trinidadians will observe Valentine's Day the way others do throughout the world: flowers will be sent and received and restaurants will likely be filled this evening with dining couples. But come February 15, the rules of Carnival will prevail once more. And Carnival rules and Valentine's Day values are about as incompatible as an Aries and a Capricorn.

During the first two or three months of any year, in addition to partying hard and drinking more than is good for them, Trinidadians will often find themselves dancing in suggestive fashion—or “wining”, as that style of dance is known—with women and men to whom they have no particular, or long-standing, romantic attachment. Or sometimes no attachment at all: as Farmer Nappy sang last year, “Nothing [ain't] wrong with…wining on a stranger.” Not all of these interactions are innocent, but contrary to appearances, and as hard as this is for my close friend's European boyfriend to understand, much of the time it's really just about dancing. 

The music form driving these dancefloor antics is soca, the modern-day successor to calypso. During the Carnival season, soca is the soundtrack to the lives of large swaths of the population, blaring from radios and car sound systems and towering stacks of speaker boxes at a never-ending series of parties and spreading the gospel of slackness.

“I come out to live my life/ drink a rum and live my life/I'm the happiest man alive,” sings Machel Montano on “Happiest Man Alive“, an anthem which neatly sums up one aspect of the Carnival ethos. At parties, deejays will often mix Montano's song with Skinny Fabulous’ “Behaving The Worst“, with which it shares a rhythm track. In one of the hits of 2012, singer KI gave voice to an important male fantasy in the ultimate anti-love song, “Single Forever“, which enumerated the virtues of being unattached. 

With lyrics like the above, it's obvious that soca and Carnival have the potential to wreak havoc on intimate relationships, especially among those inexperienced in the workings of the culture. During the Carnival season, cling tightly to the notion—or appearance— of monogamy at your peril. Some savvy couples negotiate a set of ground rules stating roughly that during the carnival season (almost) anything goes, provided life reverts to normal on Ash Wednesday. 

For, as everyone knows, the perpetrator of Carnival-induced behaviours isn't him or herself to blame: in the world according to soca human beings are powerless in the face of infectious rhythms, gyrating bodies and rum. 

This year there's any number of songs placing the blame on the oppressive power of the bassline, or a woman's gyrating buttocks (known in current soca parlance as a “bumper”), the sight of which instantly drains the average male of free will. “When de riddim hit you you does get on wassy for true,” sings Machel Montano (“wassy” being a catch-all for a range of slack behaviours) on “Shameless”. “That bumper is too real,” cries a helpless Kerwin du Bois on “Too Real”. “I wanna wine but it lookin’ dangerous/And I just want to grind on you.” 

Soca's closest approximation to a love song this year may well be Cassi's “Man in Yuh House“, in which the persona expresses a desire to be elevated from the status of “horner man” to official lover: “I want to be the man in your house, and not the horner man/I want to take you out/Just like a normal man/Tonight I not hiding/I out in the open/For your man to see.” A lovely sentiment, but it's still not likely to make anyone's Valentine's Day playlist. 

Georgia Popplewell (@georgiap) (is a writer and media producer from Trinidad and Tobago, and Managing Director of Global Voices.

Chinese Singletons Snatch Up Cinema Seats to Sabotage Valentine's Day Dates

Every year before Valentine's Day, a mischievous online group known as the “Damn Lovers” has mobilized its members to buy odd-numbered movie tickets in a bid to ruin the romance for couples who want to sit together.

This year, they finally succeeded in occupying every other seat in at least one cinema in Shanghai during the Valentine's Day primetime movie screening.

In China, Valentine's Day is rather special this year as it overlaps with Lantern Festival, or Yuan Xiao Jie, a festival which debuted during the Qin Dynasty around 200 BC during which single people would hung around in the streets under the lantern light with the hope of finding love.

The story about single netizens occupied Valentine's Day theatre prime time show was reported by local newspapers. Image circulated widely online. (via ChinaSMACK)

The story about single netizens occupying alternating seats in a movie theater during a Valentine's Day primetime show was reported by local newspapers. Image circulated widely online. (via ChinaSMACK)

As singles in recent years gained more visibility and power via the Internet and the modern invention Singles Day, a collective of singles called “Damn Lovers” (情侶去死去死團)or “Damn Love” (戀愛去死去死團)emerged among Chinese communities in China and Taiwan in 2005. The group belongs to the Kuso Internet culture, which relishes campy or outrageous content. According to Chinese Wikipedia:

去死去死團號稱「對抗『戀愛資本主義』社會風氣」,以「破壞浪漫氣氛」為目的。許多民眾以為它是社會上的激進運動團體,但去死團的多數活動只是以一種戲謔方式,用KUSO、搞笑和幽默的風格表達單身的孤單,亦有人藉此表示單身也可以很快樂,並且反對「商業化」的慶祝方式。在各種節日,譬如聖誕節或情人節,可提供一種有別於浪漫過節的消遣管道。
參與去死團活動的人被稱為奉行去死去死團精神或死死精神、死死主義。創團宗旨是:「我們獨善其身,為的是要渡化那些誤入歧途的情侶們。」

The Damn Love group claimed that they wanted to resist the culture of ‘love capitalism’ by ruining the ‘romantic atmosphere'. While some may think that it is a radical organization, but most of its activities are just for fun in the [Japanese] Kuso style to give a platform to the lonely feelings of singles. Some members want to broadcast the message that you can be single and happy or that they are against commercial styles of celebration. Thus, they want to create an alternative way of celebrating festivals such as the Valentine's Day and the Christmas. Members who participate in Damn Love activities have to uphold the spirit of ‘to be damned’ or ‘damnism'. The mission of the group is: ‘we are singles and devoted to save those who are trapped in relationships”.

In the past few years, the group usually spread their messages online using darkly humorous cartoons and stories. For example, the song, “Wish all the lovers turned out to be long lost brothers and sisters” by band “Good Sister” was a big hit last year's Valentine's Day:

The song takes reference from a modern Chinese play, “Lei Yu” meaning thunderstorm to curse Valentine's Day. The tragic love story of “Thunderstorm” depicts two lovers who have overcome family pressure to be together but who turn out to be long lost brother and sister. The first half of the song's lyrics goes:

今天是2月14,傳說中的情人節
滿大街的男男女女,都要在今天晚上過節。
平時買的玫瑰花是兩塊錢一朵
今天晚上要翻上十倍,姑娘還是樂歪了嘴
今天是2月14,傳說中的情人節
我打算回家一個人呆著,沒事看書吃泡面
可有個傻B在QQ問我,你怎麼還是一個人
我忍不住地對他喊出這樣親切的慰問
(祝天下所有的情侶都是失散多年的兄妹
祝你今天晚上的電影院和餐館,全都沒座位
祝天下所有的情侶都是失散多年的兄妹
不管是莫泰如家7天漢庭,全都訂不到床位

Today is February 14, the legendary Valentine's Day
Boys and girls in the streets are enjoying the festival
A rose costs about 2 yuan on an ordinary day
Today it is 10 times more expensive, but the girls still wear such a happy smile on their faces.
Today is February 14, the legendary Valentine's Day
My plan is to go home, read and eat instant noodles
But a f**king [instant messaging] QQ user asks me why I am alone
I can't help but send him this warm regard:
I wish all the lovers in the world are long lost brothers and sisters
I wish all the cinemas, restaurants are full tonight
I wish all the lovers in the world are long lost brothers and sisters
And all the beds in [hotels] Mo Tai, Home Inn, 7-days, Han Ting are occupied.

For 2014, single netizens decided to move beyond spoofs into action. So far, they have been successful in occupying one cinema in Shanghai. According to Shanghai Morning Post (via ChinaSMACK), one of the organizers of the occupation said that many of those who participated did so wanting to meet new friends, hoping to turn a “prank” into a “blind date”.

Of course, the lovers are also fighting back. Many are saying that they are happy to share just one seat.

February 13 2014

Welcome All to Russia's 2014 Olympic Hunger Games

President Putin at the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony. Anonymous image found online.

President Putin at the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony. Anonymous image found online.

As “toilet-gate” jokes[Global Voices report] and the hashtag #SochiProblems grow stale, another way to poke fun at Russia's hosting of the Winter Games has emerged: comparisons between the Olympics and the wildly popular Hunger Games franchise.

The Hunger Games story features a dictatorial leader, President Snow, who maintains control of a dystopic nation by forcing teenagers to compete in a televised tournament that must end in only one survivor. Of course, in practice, the Olympics has no similarities with the violence of this fictional death-match. For one, Olympians don't kill each other for their gold medals.

However, a combination of the word “Games” and President Putin's signature stern facial expressions (as well as his reputation as a strong authoritarian leader) has struck a chord with Internet users — enough to create numerous memes using Putin as the background for President Snow's quotations. One common meme a photo of Putin with the phrase “Welcome. Happy Hunger Games [to you.]” superimposed on the image:

“Welcome. Happy Hunger Games.” Anonymous image found online.

Other memes focus on a different aspect of the Hunger Games. There, the outfits of the characters from the ruling faction are notoriously flamboyant and appear ridiculous and frivolous to the working class of the fictional nation. One popular image currently circulating Twitter is of one of the women carrying country plaques during the opening ceremony, juxtaposed with a character from the recent Hunger Games movie who wears a somewhat similar retrofuturistic dress:

Character from the Hunger Games movie, and model carrying Argentina's plaque in the opening ceremony parade. Anonymous image found online.

Character from the Hunger Games movie (left), and model carrying Argentina's plaque in the opening ceremony parade (right). Anonymous image found online.

There is serious meaning behind the silly outfit comparisons — the Sochi Games, which are estimated to have cost over $40 billion, have been plagued by allegations of corruption [Global Voices report], horrible working conditions and lack of payment for the possibly illegal workers. The idea of an under-class looking with horror at the waste of the “Capitol” can be seen as an allegory for Russia's poor and disadvantaged watching the most expensive Games in history take place right in front of them, yet out of reach. One Twitter user wrote:

It's true. Same sh*t, the people are going hungry and poor, while the government is happy

Another user eschewed subtlety and embraced hyperbole in making his comparison:

The Hunger Games, like the Olympics, are controlled by the authorities, to entertain the slaves, and maintain an eternal president — all those who disagree are ruthlessly killed!

Not all comparison are this negative — most of bloggers take a humorous approach. One Twitter user humorously suggested that the Olympic Games would be improved if they were turned into Hunger Games for government officials:

It would be better if instead of the Olympics they stage Hunger Games … between members of parliament.

In some ways, this lighthearted approach to poking fun of the Olympics is a breath of fresh air compared to some of the harsher memes [Global Voices report] out there. At the same time, the RuNet has become a confusing hodgepodge of articles criticizing Sochi, and articles criticizing the critics, until the real point of the Olympic Games, athleticism and national pride, is almost completely buried in a pile of meta-criticism. 

February 12 2014

China: Cleaning Up The Yellow

In Chinese language, the color yellow also signifies sex and pornography. The crackdown of sex industry and pornographic materials is termed as “cleaning-up the yellow”. Political cartoonist @remonwangxt's latest work is about the “Cleaning-up yellow” campaign in China.

February 11 2014

Art Arises From Snow-Covered Tokyo

The heaviest snowfall in 45 years hit Tokyo over the weekend. The unusual amount of snow triggered traffic accidents, killing 11 and injuring thousands, and travel was disrupted across the country.

However, amid the cold and white, some used the snow to create beautiful, fun and sometimes strange artwork. RocketNews24 has compiled photos that were taken and shared by Japanese Twitter users.

February 09 2014

Heavy Snowfall Brings Playtime to Tokyo

Heavy snowstorms hit Japan on Feb 8, 2014. Twenty seven centimeters of snow fell in central Tokyo, for the first time in 45 years. Moro Miya, a writer and a blogger who specializes in introducing Japanese culture to Chinese readers, collected the photos of snowmen and snow-animals that were posted by the netizens on twitter.

Family Reunion and the Chinese New Year

Jocelyn Eikenburg describes how she spent the first few days of the Chinese New Year with her husband's family in China.

I’ve already attended four huge dinners with family, where the dining tables often become a cacophony of laughing and shouting (often because of those drinking games involving baijiu). I’ve learned to steel myself for the inevitable topic of children — which used to be a question (“When will you have kids?”) and has now become a command (“This year, you must have a kid!”).

February 07 2014

When Genocide is, apparently, a Laughing Matter

French humorist Nicolas Canteloup has come under fire for a sketch making light of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda [fr]. Following the outrage,  Mr Canteloup has yet to apologize for the sketch. Audrey Kucinskas, a blogger for the Plus asks the logical question: “can anything be a laughing matter?” [fr]: 

Rire du génocide rwandais, ça me dépasse. Vous vous souvenez qu'en 1994, plus d'un million de personnes ont été torturées, violées et assassinées ? Ça vous fait rire ? 

Joking about the Rwandan genocide is beyond me. Do you remember in 1994 when more than a million people were tortured, raped and murdered? It was a riot, wasn't it ?

The president of CRAN, Louis-George Tin believes the sketch is totally unacceptable [fr]:

Quand il s'agit des Noirs, à l'évidence, on peut tout se permettre. Mais il est temps que cela cesse. Ce soi-disant humour masque mal une forme extrême de mépris et d'abjection. Devant le crime contre l'humanité, esclavage, Shoah, Rwanda, on ne rit pas, on fait silence.

When it comes to black people, it seems that again, anything goes. But it is time to put an end to that. This so-called humor barely hides an extreme form of contempt and prejudice. When it comes to crime against humanity, slavery, the Holocaust and Rwanda, we do not laugh, we just ought to stay silent.

February 05 2014

China Reports That Snowden Claims Aliens Control America

China's Xinhua new agency reported on January 28 that Snowden had claimed aliens controlled America. Although the story was soon deleted, it had spread all over Sina Weibo. Weibo users didn't take the story seriously, they even created an image of Alien Obama.Mitchell Blatt from CHINA TRAVEL WRITER BLOG has translated part of the report into English as well as netizens’ reactions. 

Photo from Sina Weibo

Photo from Sina Weibo

 

 

Reposted bymofo mofo

February 04 2014

The Horse Year is Coming. Be Happy!

A happy lunar new year video is circulated in China WeChat. Bill Bishop made a backup in Youtube:

According to Lunar Chinese calendar, starting from January 30, 2014, is the Year of the Horse. In Chinese, Ma (horse) when uses with the word Shang (Up), means coming. The lyric of this new year greeting goes like this:

Horse Horse Horse. Year of the Horse Coming.
Year of the Horse, You get what you want. [Your wishes] will be realized soon.
In the Year of Horse, money, apartment and everything are coming soon.
Year of the Horse Coming, it is cool to greet in the new year.
Happiness is coming. Minions wish you happiness in new year. Happiness is coming.
In the Year of Horse, man and woman, old and young, all be happy.
Year of the Horse is coming, Happiness is coming.

February 03 2014

Submit Cartoons on NSA Surveillance and Win $1000

Commander Keith Alexander on bridge

Commander Keith Alexander on the bridge” Cartoon shared by DonkeyHotey (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Web We Want invites cartoonists, creatives and artists to join The Day We Fight Back on February 11, 2014 by creating an original cartoon about online surveillance and the right to privacy. The cartoons should help increase awareness about the NSA and demand accountability for mass digital surveillance in a way that makes people want to click and share.

Deadline for submissions is February 8.

Prizes:

1st place: USD $1000
2nd place: USD $500
3rd Place: USD $250

Rules:

1. Anyone can participate.
2. By submitting the work, the author agrees that it is licensed under a Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution Share Alike license. There is no limit of submissions per author.
3. The Author will provide a name or pseudonym to the submission. Further personal details will be requested for the winners – but their real name will remain private upon request of the author.
4. The winners will be announced on February 11, 2014. The winner will be picked by members of the Web We Want Executive Committee.
5. The award will be transferred to the winners within 30 days after the announcement.

Submissions:

1. By email: send your cartoon – high definition, .jpg, .pdf, .svg or .png to
grants@webfoundation.org SUBJECT: Cartoon by February 8th.
2. By Twitter: Tweet your uploaded image to @webwewant with the hashtag #webwewant
3. Adding your nationality and country of origin is optional but highly encouraged.

February 02 2014

13 Olympic Memes as Sochi Games Approach

As the Sochi Winter Olympics are fast approaching (the opening ceremony is this coming Saturday), RuNet Echo takes a look back at some of the funnier jokes that the Russian online community made about the logo, the torch, and other Olympic accouterments during the years of preparation for the games.

1. The logo itself has been the butt of various memes, the most ubiquitous of which is its pairing with a “saw” mascot, as a play on the verb “to saw,” a Russian slang term for “embezzlement.” This is, of course, contextualized amid years of accusations of wasteful spending and embezzled funds during the construction process:

The friendly embezzling saw. Anonymous image distributed online.

The friendly embezzling saw. Anonymous image distributed online.

2. A more succinct joke comes at the expense of the easily parodied font:

“A f*cking shame” reads the modified Olympic logo. Anonymous image found online.

3. Another Olympic accusation of corruption — this is one on behalf of Russia's students:

“The Olympic flame burned your stipend” reads the caption of this alternative logo. Anonymous image found online.

4. A 2010 competition to design a mascot to go with the logo, organized by Russia's Olympic committee, resulted in several meme-worthy entrants. This one utilizes the ancient RuNet “Превед медвед” (“Preved medved”) meme. (This meme was at one point so widespread, it has its own KnowYourMeme entry.)

“Preved!” says the bear. Anonymous image distributed online.

5. Bears are an easy sell for Russian-hosted Olympics — ever since the lovable 1980 mascot. This entry into the 2010 contest uses the well known “Pedobear” meme:

Skiing-kuma. Anonymous image distributed online.

Skiing-kuma. Anonymous image distributed online.

6. Fans of Lovecraft had their own approach:

Ktulhu for President (of the Olympics)! Anonymous image distributed online.

Cthulhu for President (of the Olympics)! Anonymous image distributed online.

7. And fans of the classic Soviet kid's cartoon “Cheburashka,” their own (albeit similar):

Cheburashka fhtagn! Anonymous image found online.

Cheburashka fhtagn! Anonymous image found online.

8. The most popular entry (although it later turned out it was part of an astroturf campaign to raise contest popularity) was the Arctic hypno-toad nicknamed Zoich, created by cartoonist Egor Zhgun.

2014 sort of looks like ZOIЧ, a mix of English and Russian characters.

9. The mascots that were eventually selected, drew accusations of plagiarism both from Russia's last Olympics:

“Plagiarism is when you take someone else's thing and make it worse.” One of new mascots side by side with the 1980 Mishka the Bear. Anonymous image found online.

10. And from foreign Olympics:

“F*cking shameful,” reads the caption. Salt Lake Olympic mascots on the right. Anonymous image found online.

11. The Sochi Olympic torch relay, plagued as it was with the flame constantly going out [Global Voices report], also became the butt of jokes. Some pointed out its similarity to a Vodka logo:

“Russian” brand vodka looks suspiciously like the Olympic torch. Anonymous image found online.

12. Others noted the similarities between this bearded relay runner holds his torch, and the way Chechen guerrillas hold their guns:

Olympic terrorists. Anonymous image found online.

Olympic terrorists. Anonymous image found online.

13. Perhaps the harshest meme of them all, this Olympic Bingo sheet has been translated from the Russian original by RuNet Echo. Various versions of the meme are widespread on Russian imageboards and forums. All deal with some form of failure on the part of the Russian hosts. This, folks, is Russian fatalism at its most depressed:

Anonymous image translated by RuNet Echo.

Anonymous image translated by RuNet Echo.

Russians are fond of self deprecation. Hopefully the 2014 Winter games will prove them wrong.

January 29 2014

Double Standards Toward Women in Corporate Japan Are a Joke

Photo of Japanese male employee and female employee working in office, discussing plans. Rroyalty free photo

Photo of a Japanese male employee and female employee working in office, discussing plans. Royalty free photo

A Tumblr post [ja] illustrating double standards in attitudes towards women in corporate Japan has been widely shared on social media among users:

彼が部長にお昼を誘われると、昇進間近じゃないかと言われる。
彼女が部長にお昼を誘われると、愛人じゃないかと言われる。

彼が同僚と話していると、何を議論してるのかと言われる。
彼女が同僚と話していると、またおしゃべりかと言われる。

彼の結婚が決まると、これで落ち着いて仕事ができるなと言われる。
彼女の結婚が決まると、仕事はいつ辞めるのかと言われる。

彼が海外出張に行くと、いい経験になるからがんばれと言われる。
彼女が海外出張に行くと、夫や子をほっとくのかと言われる。

彼が会社を辞めると、いい転職先が決まったんだなと言われる。
彼女が会社を辞めると、これだから女は・・と言われる。

If a boss asks him for lunch, they say he is getting promoted soon.
If a boss asks her for lunch, they say she is a lover.

If he talks with his colleagues, they ask what he is discussing.
If she talks with her colleagues, they say she's chatting again.

If he decides marry, they say to him “now you can settle down to work”.
If she decides marry, they say to her “when will you resign?” 

If he has overseas business trip, they will say to him, “it'll be a good experience, go for it”.
If she has overseas business trip, they will say to her, “are you leaving her family at home?”

If he resigns, they say, “he found a better job”.
If she resigns, they say, “here it goes again, women…”

The Tumblr post seems to be quoting a website [ja] that collects jokes around the world, but when and who made this joke remains unknown.

The post was sub-edited by Kevin Rennie and L. Finch

January 28 2014

Calypso, Race & Political Allegiance in Trinidad & Tobago

The 2014 Carnival season in Trinidad and Tobago is heating up in more ways than one. The song “False Papers” by the calypsonian “Bodyguard” has been banned from the Kalypso Revue calypso tent by leader and veteran calypsonian Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osuana.

“Aloes” justified his move by explaining that he considered the lyrics to be offensive to Indians. Bodyguard, whose real name is Roger Mohammed, has countered that he was merely responding to a statement by head of the Maha Sabha, Satnarayan “Sat” Maharaj, that while “Africans were beating pans, Indians were beating books.”

Ironically, “Sugar Aloes” has, in the past, been a vocal supporter of the Peoples National Movement (PNM), one of the two major political parties in the country and traditionally voted for by Afro-Trinidadians; he publicly switched his allegiance to the People's Partnership in 2012 by appearing on a platform to serenade the Prime Minister, who heads the predominantly Indian-supported United National Congress (UNC), the main party in the coalition government. As a result, it has been suggested that his shift in political support is responsible for his decision to ban the calypso. Indeed, many have even pointed out that “Sugar Aloes” made a career out of singing acerbic, controversial songs – and that “False Papers” fell well within the tradition of social and political commentary in the calypso genre.

The first verse of “False Papers”, a song no doubt inspired by the increase in instances like this, goes:

It easy to say Sat will be Sat
And try to ignore people like dat
But Sat Maharaj controls a large group in society
So when he makes a definitive declaration
It carries a lot of clout
We feel he know what he talkin bout
But time has a way
Of recycling the tings we say
And holding them up against logic and reason
So when Sat say ‘Indian children beating book
While black children beating pan’
No cousin! Is better yuh didn’t say nuttin

The chorus follows:

‘Cause recently, one setta Indian people get caught
Wid false papers, false papers
I’m yet to see, one single African in the lot
And not one of them fraudsters ever face a court
So yuh theory have more holes than a water can
Like is better some ah dem Indian did beat a pan
When yuh feel dey was beating more book than the African
Dey was fabricating degrees, defrauding the land

Acclaimed calypsonian David Rudder had some fun with the situation:

There is a rumor coming through the African Fed Ex pipeline that claims that Sugar Aloes has declined the services of a Bodyguard. Hahahah! Is that true?
Ah mean,lol! I just had two.

Rudder continued with a parody of one of Sugar Aloes’ most famous songs:

I'M JUST BEING ME. (By Later Or Sooner)

I don't look like PNM, for your information
PNM doh look like me
So when come to survival,
I'm just being me

And I didn't get from PNM, for your information
Deh eh getting from me
So when come to survival, don't have no objection
I'm a UNC.

Kareen Stuart suggested that the song could inflame racial tensions:

This song, while the lyrics in it may point to truthful stories (fabrication of certificates), it can also lead to increased racial tension in Trinidad. If people are going to be concentrating on the lyrics of a song on its prejudiced approach as opposed to the melody, arrangement etc., the real message of the song will definitely be lost in a hoopla of controversy that will make…race…an even bigger issue

Wendy Howell felt that if calypsonians were to start pulling punches, it would damage the relevance of the art form:

By people not singing in calypso, what is actually occurring in the country would be to go against what calypso was created to convey. It highlights and pinpoints all that the citizens are experiencing and has (sic) to deal with daily. It gives them a voice that they would normally not have. To sing about only light stuff and not address the real issues that is (sic) eating away at the hearts of the ppl would be a terrible injustice to the artform that is our calypso.

Others, like Marla Dial Walker, condemned the song outright:

I do support culture; pan etc., but not Racisms’ (sic). And for those of you who commented on some of the songs that Sugar Aloes sang it’s all in the past. In this day and age we have no place for such behaviour. There is so much going on in Trinidad at this current time, why could he [Bodyguard] not sing a song about all the Killings, Rapes, and Druggies?

Bryan Dickson maintained that calypsos were meant to be provocative:

I thought the tent is where you go to hear the controversial, the smutty, political rhetoric, the hard facts. It is not where we look for the politically correct…we have enough censorship on the radio and elsewhere. Toughen up people!

Twitter was also rife with discussion:

@NotoriousDRE_H quipped, tongue firmly in cheek:

Stacy Raphael defended the freedom of the art form:

Finally, referring to one of the biggest calypso competitions in the country, which traditionally takes place in South Trinidad at the open air venue of Skinner's Park, and where the discerning and often tough audience often throws toilet paper at performers who don't meet their high standards, Jeffrey James pleaded:

Fairy Tales in the 21st Century

On the column Breviario [es] from the website El MalPensante [es], Argentinian author Hernán Casciari [es] concludes that many timeless fairy tales that are part of children's imagination and many other stories would have never taken place had their main characters had access to the current technology:

What happens with the chosen story? Will the plot go smoothly, now that the characters can call each other from any place, now that they have the choice to chat, generate video conferences and send SMS? It doesn't work at all, right?

[...]

With a phone on her hands, for instance, Penelope does no longer wait full of uncertainty for Ullises the Warrior to come back from combat.

With a mobile phone in her basket, Little Red Riding Hood would alert her granny just in time and the lumberjack's presence is no longer necessary.

And he concludes by saying that “our plots are losing their charm because we've become lazy heroes”.

January 26 2014

Pig Photos Censored in Malaysia

We know that it is forbidden for Muslims to eat pork; but can they look at pigs?

A local printing company in Malaysia believes it is also haram for Muslims to see the pictures of pigs that is why it unilaterally decided to blacken out the snouts of pigs in two photos that appeared in the January 22, 2014 edition of the International New York Times.

The photos accompanied an article titled “Demand grows for pigs raised outside”.

The controversial 'blacked out' photo that appeared on the Malaysian edition of the New York Times. Photo from website of The Malaysian Insider

The controversial ‘blacked out’ photo that appeared on the Malaysian edition of the New York Times. Photo from website of The Malaysian Insider

A spokesman for the KHL Printing Co said that it has been their practice to cover ‘banned’ images in the Muslim-majority nation such as nudity, smoking and firearms. But the Malaysian government denied that it has a regulation that prohibits the publishing of images of pigs. The New York Times is also unaware about the decision to blacken out the photos.

Malaysians reacted humorously to the issue but many were also dismayed. anak1malaysia is worried that children in the future may not be able to know what a pig looks like:

I can foresee in the not too distant future, people would not know how a pig look like. And that would be dangerous if our muslim small kids may happen to cuddle a little cute piglet unknowingly because he/she has not seen one before even in their school text book.

Shawn Tan thinks this is a negative impact of self-censorship:

This is the culture of self-censorship because nobody wants to get into any trouble. Businesses especially, will try to avoid any mess. Play it safe.

Mediha reminded the printing company that it is not haram to see pigs:

It is not haram to see pigs. It is just haram to eat it, and need to purify if touched. Duh.

This is not the first time that an image was blackened out in the paper. Kilgore remembered how an article about a ‘kissing protest’ in Chile was given a similar ‘black out’ treatment:

Previously, the New York Times did a story on Chilean students’ ‘kissing protest'. These same people censored the picture by painstakingly pasting black boxes over thousands of students’ mouths as they simultaneously kissed.

Malaysian public saved again. Taxpayers’ money well-spent.

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