Since its first unheralded appearance in January on a Chinese Web page, the grass-mud horse has become nothing less than a phenomenon.
A YouTube children’s song about the beast has drawn nearly 1.4 million viewers. A grass-mud horse cartoon has logged a quarter million more views. A nature documentary on its habits attracted 180,000 more. Stores are selling grass-mud horse dolls. Chinese intellectuals are writing treatises on the grass-mud horse’s social importance. The story of the grass-mud horse’s struggle against the evil river crab has spread far and wide across the Chinese online community.
Not bad for a mythical creature whose name, in Chinese, sounds very much like an especially vile obscenity. Which is precisely the point.
Apparently, if you say “grass-mud horse” in Mandarin, it sounds exactly like a certain curse word that ryhmes with “smother plucker”! So that song sung by adorable children is actually extremely lewd! HILARIOUS!
The online videos’ scenes of alpacas happily romping to the Disney-style sounds of a children’s chorus quickly turn shocking — then, to many Chinese, hilarious — as it becomes clear that the songs fairly burst with disgusting language.
It gets better. Turns out China severly kicked up its online censorship in December, after an online participation circulated calling for an end to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. Good to see the Olympics didn’t change them. This video is a big middle finger to them. The song is about the grass-mud horses land being invaded by “River Crabs.” If you say “river crab” in Mandarin that sounds exactly “harmony,” which is the Chinese Communist Party’s euphemism for censorship.
(The grass-mud horse) lives in a desert whose name resembles yet another foul word. The horses are “courageous, tenacious and overcome the difficult environment,” a YouTube song about them says.
But they face a problem: invading “river crabs” that are devouring their grassland. In spoken Chinese, “river crab” sounds very much like “harmony,” which in China’s cyberspace has become a synonym for censorship. Censored bloggers often say their posts have been “harmonized” — a term directly derived from President Hu Jintao’s regular exhortations for Chinese citizens to create a harmonious society.
They’re just like us!