Going up against a tyrannical government isn't nearly as fun as the movies make it out to be. There's just something about secret arrests, violent beatings, and the distinct lack of tanks that make an average person somewhat reluctant to go and fight The Man. Thankfully, the following freedom-loving people were anything but average, because when they fought back against their respective regimes, they did it with style ...
5Chinese Netizens Skirt Censorship With Memes
China extinguishes free speech like novelty candles on its birthday cake. Which is to say that every time they stomp it out, it comes sputtering back to life again. They've arrested bloggers for exposing the country's rampant corruption, sent journalists on "forced vacations" -- but the will of the people is indomitable. But what can be done by people who are unwilling to risk martyrdom to fight the power? You can't even flip the government the bird, because they will confiscate and imprison that bird forever. But you can flip them the alpaca:
Some explanation may be in order.
The "grass mud horse" is a fictitious animal (represented by an alpaca) that was created by Internet users to cleverly insult the Communist Party and bite the massive red hand feeding them propaganda and fear. To understand it, we need to break down the phrase cao ni ma. Depending on the tones, cao ni ma can be translated from Mandarin Chinese as 1) a sequence of seemingly random words ...
... or 2) a phrase meaning "Fuck your mother":
Oh, did we mention that the Communist Party is often referred to as the "mother of the people"?
And when La Resistance Alpaca isn't appearing in the most hardcore of all possible memes (hey, do you risk imprisonment every time you repost a Doge?) or deceptively whimsical songs, it even helps Chinese netizens remember the Tiananmen Square protests:
With pro-capitalist shopping bags to boot.
The 1989 Beijing demonstrations, which ended with hundreds (maybe thousands) of people being gunned down by the military, came to be best represented by "Tank Man," a lone protester standing up to a column of tanks. The Chinese government doesn't particularly like talking about it, and they usually change the subject to how shiny their machine guns are looking today.
Here's how the Internet responded to that particular bit of censorship:
One trend sweeping the Chinese Internet involves users re-enacting Tank Man's bravery at Tiananmen Square using everything from the wildly popular giant yellow duck that floated into Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor to LEGOs and even cows standing up to tractors.
Sina Weibo/South China Morning Post
They ran over the cow, for authenticity. It was delicious.
Because what the Communist Party doesn't understand is that if you tell the Internet it can't do something, two things will happen:
1. They're going to do it anyway.
2.They're going to look as stupid as possible while doing it.
4 Chile Throws a National Temper Tantrum
By the 1980s, General Augusto Pinochet's corrupt policies had run Chile's economy into the ground, with unemployment reaching nearly 40 percent (not a typo!) in some areas. Obviously Pinochet had to go, but you just knew he wouldn't be cool about it and slip away while everybody was distracted playing darts or something. With a name like General Augusto Pinochet, you're pretty much promised a drama queen. So Chile's Democratic Alliance party (Alianza Democratica) came up with an elegant solution to properly express the people's dissatisfaction with his military rule: At a set time, they arranged for the entire country to flip out like somebody said the secret word on Pee-wee's Playhouse.
via University of San Francisco
"Everyone scream. He said 'hyperinflation'!"
On May 11, 1983, Chileans across the country suddenly took to the streets, screaming and hollering, banging on pots and pans, blasting car horns, and playing music loudly. Traffic was brought to a standstill outside government centers and wealthy neighborhoods where Pinochet enjoyed support. The Pinochet regime had no idea what to do. Thousands of people were suddenly stomping and shouting in the streets, which wasn't technically illegal -- if it was, you'd have to throw every toddler in the country in prison.
via University of San Francisco
Pinochet did deny them dessert. They just banged louder.
Eventually, the Pinochet regime declared huge swaths of the country to be "emergency zones," sent the military to menace and mace university campuses, and banned singing in public like they were pitching a sequel to Footloose. Skirmishes and flash mob protests continued for the next few years until 1990, when all of Chile essentially held its breath long enough for Pinochet to finally cave in and allow democratic elections.