Freedom Fighter

On Saturday, Kung-Fu comedian and Chinese patriot Jackie Chan had this to say about freedom in his country:

I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not...I'm really confused now. If you're too free, you're like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic....I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."

Naturally, the knee-jerk-round-house-kick reaction is to condemn Chan for his freedom hating. But before anyone prepares for a rumble in the Bronx, keep in mind a 2005 Reason article about the Great Firewall of China by Contributing Editor Kerry Howley:

Decades of state censorship have yielded a mastery of euphemism and allegory so subtle the Chinese government ends up promoting films meant to mock its rule. If any culture will find a way to discuss freedom while routing around the word freedom, it's China's....Cyberspace is too vast to police, information too fluid, and there are a slew of sites dedicated to punching holes in the walls meant to hold back the deluge. China is often said to have co-opted the Internet for its own purposes, but the idea that a slow-moving communist bureaucracy can stanch the stream and spackle every new fissure stretches credulity.

The most recent example of Chinese mastery of the ancient art is the "Grass-Mud Horse." The mythical creature was praised for its virtue and beauty before being censored by the Chinese government. "Grass-Mud Horse," happens to sound like "Fuck Your Mother" and supposedly struggles against the suspiciously symbolic "river crab," which happens to sound like a bastardized version of Hu Jintao's call for a China that is "harmonized."  

Those familiar with Chan's American oeuvre, can be excused for laughing at the idea of his work being anything close to "subtle." And Chan's comments were almost certainly not of the euphemistic kind. But Chan was in Boa, China that day for a panel discussion called "Tapping into Asia's Creative Industry Potential."

Taiwanese and Hong Kong officials were upset over Chan's comments, assailing his remarks as, among other things, "racist." If dissident Chinese artists and bloggers are any indication, however, attacking Chan's words with a karate chop is not the best answer. It's Judo–the art of using an opponent's force to your advantage–that pro-democratic, freedom-loving supporters can use to their advantage. So perhaps Chan was tapping into Asia's creative potential: There's nothing like crap comments to turn angry and creative people into Fearless Hyenas:

Senior Editor Michael Moynihan on the ass-backwards statements of another movie star here.

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  • High Every Body||


    If you're too free, you're like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic



    Thanks Jackie Chan! My next two vacation spots are locked in.

  • ||

    If dissident Chinese artists and bloggers are any indication, however, attacking Chan's words with a karate chop is not the best answer. It's Judo-the art of using an opponent's force to your advantage-that pro-democratic, freedom-loving supporters can use to their advantage.

    You don't have to bring up obscure martial arts to find an example -- this is what happens in American sports where an insulting comment in the newspaper becomes "bulletin board material" for their opponent.

  • Chiun||

    The Korean is the most perfect creature ever to sanctify the earth with the imprint of its foot.

  • ||

    It's Judo Aikido-the art of using an opponent's force to your advantage-that pro-democratic, freedom-loving supporters can use to their advantage.

    /end martial arts pedantry.

    I found this post very odd. Isn't "routing around" government oppression a poor second to doing away with government oppression altogether?

  • N||

    Not at all, R C Dean. In a dictatorship like China "routing around" government opression of free speech isn't some form of substitute to doing away with opression. It is instead an essential part of the bigger fight to end opression altogether. You will never be able to mobilize enough resistance against an opressive regime without rallying public support, and if information is censored then findig ways around the censorship is just a normal and essential part of the greater struggle.

    It's not either routing around opression OR doing away with opression. Doing away with follows if the opposition is good enough at the routing around part.

  • Brett Stevens||

    Freedom in itself is not a goal. You can have freedom FROM something, but freedom itself implies zero obligations, which life is not.

    Jackie Chan is right, and not just about China. About the USA; we don't see happier with all our new freedoms. If anything, we seem more neurotic.

  • Triumph||

    "The Korean is the most perfect creature ever to sanctify the earth with the imprint of its foot."

    For me to poop on!

  • ||

    "Asian girls for love and marriage" is in the ad sidebar.

    Maybe Jackie was just being a drunken master? I say a lot of stupid shit when I'm loaded.

  • ||

    Freedom in itself is not a goal.

    Speak for yourself.

  • Nemo||

    Reason must do a lot of yoga to be capable of the bending and twisting they do in order to kiss China's ass.

  • Naga Sadow||

    [out of sync kung fu voice]

    Not you, Epi. Now prepare yourself for my five finger palm of death move.

    [/out of sync kung fu voice]

  • Naga Sadow||

    Nemo,

    Their servers were outsourced to China. They don't want them confiscated.

  • High Every Body||

    Epi,

    "Asian girls for love and marriage" is in the ad sidebar.

    That is your best comment ever!

    Now to Google-up the old metric to real measurement converter so I can try to find a tall slender one.

  • stuartl||

    If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."

    Jackie has been reading TofuSushi.

  • ||

    "the idea that a slow-moving communist bureaucracy can stanch the stream and spackle every new fissure stretches credulity..."

    On the other hand, they can create a censorship squad the size of the entire US population -- men, women, and children -- and still have two US equivalents left over for productive work. That kind of realization is sure to sober up any drunken master.

  • Abdul||

    Maybe Jackie was just being a drunken master?

    My guess was that he got one-too-many skull fructures doing his own stunts.

  • ||

    Easier answer: Jackie Chan is old. Old people get conservative (in the general sense) and crotchety.

  • Paul||

    Taiwanese and Hong Kong officials were upset over Chan's comments, assailing his remarks as, among other things, "racist."



    *sigh*

    The comments were not "racist". Moreover, bringing "race" into the discussion misses the point.

    Great way to counter Mr. Chan's comments.

  • Joel||

    My guess was that he got one-too-many skull fructures doing his own stunts.

    There may actually be something to this, you know. The outtakes from that guy's movies are more terrifying than Nancy Pelosi porn.

  • Joel||

    Well...not more terrifying...

  • Rob||

    "It's Judo Aikido-the art of using an opponent's force to your advantage-that pro-democratic, freedom-loving supporters can use to their advantage.

    /end martial arts pedantry."

    Pedant ON.

    No, it's actually judo if you want to learn how to use a resisting opponent's force against them while they're legitimately trying to grapple with you.

    It's aikido if you want to learn how to watch ukes willingly toss themselves and fly about like Mexican jumping beans at the slightest touch from the thower.

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