Shanghai: Videographer urges people to stop sharing films critical of Covid lockdown | China
The author of a viral video about the Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai that sparked a rare show of defiance on Chinese social media has urged users to stop sharing it, saying he fears his work could be headed in directions he didn’t want to see.
The creator, who goes by his online nickname Strawberry Fields Forever, said in a post on Saturday that the rapid release of the video, titled Voices of April, was “unexpected” for him, and he was “moved” by the posts. received from his colleagues. Internet users.
“However, I don’t want this video to be shown in directions I don’t want,” he added. “I hope everyone stops sharing, or ask people you know to stop sharing.”
The six-minute short is a montage of audio excerpts from official government announcements, as well as residents’ descriptions of their suffering during Shanghai’s strict lockdowns over the past three weeks.
The video, which scans the city’s vast skyline, is presented without commentary and is shot primarily in black and white. The video’s ending card reads, “Get better soon, Shanghai.”
It was taken down from the internet shortly after being posted, but continued to spread on WeChat on Friday. Users found creative ways to circulate the video, such as embedding a QR code in a movie poster or directing others to cloud services to download it.
On Friday night, many WeChat users found different ways to keep the video alive and overwhelm the censors.
China’s most populous city is entering its fourth week of lockdown. The metropolis of 25 million people is also a key financial center in Asia. But over the past three weeks, many residents have begun to criticize the brutal way authorities have implemented the zero-Covid policy.
On Friday, Shanghai reported 12 new Covid-19 deaths, down from 11 the day before. The patients who died had an average age of 88, authorities said. They said all had underlying health conditions and none had been vaccinated.
Seeing the number of cases and the death toll rising, Shanghai is doubling down on its “dynamic authorization” to eradicate the spread of the virus, district by district. On Friday, the authorities announced a new reinforcement of containment.
With uncertainty lingering, netizens have found plenty of ways to express their frustration in recent days. Some have mixed up British band Slaves’ 2015 single Cheer Up London with images of the city’s lockdowns.
Others have altered the script of American comedy duo Key & Peele’s A Man Who Enjoys a Continental Breakfast and dubbed it in Shanghainese dialect, to imagine what it would be like when a man from Shanghai was finally allowed to have a good breakfast. -lunch after the lockdown is lifted.
By Saturday afternoon, many critical posts had been deleted by censors.
Analysts said Friday’s eruption of dissident creativity was reminiscent of a similar episode at the start of Wuhan’s lockdown. In early March 2020, Chinese netizens used creative means to circulate a censored magazine profile of a medical professional from Wuhan.
“After weeks of draconian confinement, there is a sense of deep frustration and discontent for the people of Shanghai, but also a sense of solidarity for those who were not in the middle,” said Dali Yang, political scientist at the ‘University of Chicago. . “I’m surprised that many of those reposting the video and other material didn’t view the act as political.”
“For the authorities, this collective action and the implicit criticism of the confinement sends a powerful message that they are trying to censor. Our understanding of this act must also be considered along with the localized acts of defiance and protest, in the beating of cooking utensils and the failure to comply with nucleic acid testing orders.
Hu Xijin, the former editor of the nationalist tabloid Global Times weighed in late Friday night to justify the deletion of the video. He said the Internet was invented by the West, so when it entered China, it should be “sinified.” He urged citizens to trust the government and remain confident in China’s resilience.
The phrase “The Voices of April” has now been deleted on Weibo. But some Chinese users post images with quotes to indirectly express their displeasure.
In one entry, Jin Xing, one of Shanghai’s best-known TV talk show hosts, posted a photo of Mao Zedong with the following quote: “People in China and around the world, even our enemies, will use the performance of our work in Shanghai to examine whether our party has the capacity to manage a big city and the whole country.
Sometimes the subtle display of defiance was poetic. One user commented, in response to Voices of April’s censorship, with a poem from TS Eliot’s The Waste Land:
“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilac out of the dead earth, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain”
But as censors rushed to remove explicitly critical content, users began posting material that, on the face of it, didn’t seem so controversial. On WeChat, some used a clip from one of the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokespersons, in which she said that Chinese citizens have the right to freedom of speech and freedom of thought.
Others have quoted the phrase from China’s zero Covid policy to describe the cat-and-mouse game with censors. “It’s called ‘dynamic clearing,'” they wrote.