5 Ridiculously Badass Protests Against Oppressive Regimes
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 ...
Chinese 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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
The Russian Version of Jackass Fights for Liberty
Citizens will go to insane lengths to bring attention to the massive problem of persecution and corruption in Russia, like the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, or the (often literal) art attack group Voina.
Don't remember Voina? You should. They were the folks who erected a 224-foot-long wiener over St. Petersburg in 2010.
Now, we don't know art, but we know what we like.
You, dear reader, are almost certainly wondering: Is it even remotely possible to match the flair and sophistication of a giant dong painted on a drawbridge? And the answer, obviously, is no -- of course not. But being an artist means flinging effort in the face of utility like a cat at a McDonald's employee.
We know that seems like an odd analogy, but it's one Voina took to heart when they started their reign of chaotic terror, launching felines at fast food workers ...
Vastly improving the quality of the burger meat.
... overturning police cars in front of St. Petersburg's Mikhailovsky Palace ...
With the headlights still on and the engine still running.
... and staging an orgy in a Moscow museum. There's also their infamous "How to Snatch a Chicken" video, where a female Voina member steals a chicken from a supermarket by stuffing it up her vagina. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when the Internet generation organizes the resistance.
Belgian Newspaper Beats the Onion by 45 Years
When the Germans marched into Belgium in 1940, they shut down most of the newspapers and only kept a few operating to spread propaganda throughout the conquered territory. A few workers at one of those papers, Le Soir, finally got sick of it around 1943. And so they fought back the only logical way they could: with satirical news. Yeah! This is what happens when you enrage news dorks, Jerry.
They'll kick you in the nut graf and op you in the ed.
With the help of the Belgian Resistance, over 50,000 copies of the "Faux Soir" were printed, and 5,000 were distributed to vendors in secret. American B-17 bombers were captioned "In Full Action," while a nervous Hitler looked up from another picture, saying, "That's not what I asked for." Known collaborators and Wehrmacht leaders were listed in the obituaries. The movie listings featured films like OLYMPIAD -- Part 1: The Marathon from El Alamein to Sidi Barani, starring Field Marshal Rommel and the Afrika Korps, and Where Is This Editor? a detective film starring Heinrich Himmler and the Gestapo.
Every article, cartoon, and advertisement was an Onion-like mockery of the Nazis and the occupation. It was childish. It was petty. It was glorious.
It's almost worth learning French just to read it.
Unfortunately, later in the day the Germans realized that there was no way people were this entertained by their approved propaganda. The presses used to print the Faux Soir were eventually found, but only a few of the hundreds of individuals involved were caught and sentenced to the awful, inhumane fate of trying to explain satirical humor to a group of Germans.
Oh wait, no, it was torture. Sorry. They were tortured. The first phrasing was less of a bummer, though, right?
Fighting Oppression With a Bulldozer
Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Serbia (and later Yugoslavia), is the closest thing to a real-life cartoon villain we'll ever see. When all was said and done, he racked up a final body count numbering in the hundreds of thousands, a feat that stood in stark contrast to the man's total ineptitude as a military and political leader. (Turns out mass murder is way easier than balancing a budget.)
Plus, his name can be rearranged to spell "bacon mold is so vile."
When the Yugoslav people finally decided to stand up to Milosevic in 2000, they knew they needed a genuine superhero to help them. They knew they needed ... Captain Bulldozer.
A massive protest was planned for October 5, and construction worker Ljubisav Dokic was invited to bring his bulldozer as a date to the festivities. When Dokic and protesters congregated outside of the Parliament building in Belgrade, they were met by a wall of riot police. On the one hand, the police were armed with tear gas and a guaranteed presidential pardon for any skulls that may end up cracked in the skirmish. On the other hand, Dokic had a fucking bulldozer.
Which they later used to clean the pile of bricks the cops shat.
In a game of Pretty Much Anything vs. Bulldozer, Bulldozer always wins. All the police could do was get the hell out of the way as Dokic smashed the Parliament windows and hoisted other protesters onto the building to bypass the gates. Obviously, Dokic was doing all of these things wearing a gas mask, both to combat the tear gas and because it looked really, really bitchin'.
Ultimately, with Dokic's help, the protesters stormed Milosevic's headquarters and forced the man to step down. This was presumably followed by six straight hours of bulldozer wheelies.
A.C. Grimes is a raving Cracked fiend who enjoys writing. Feel free to check out some of his other writings and reflections on the Web.
Related Reading: Keep the anarchy train uh, wildly off schedule, with these pictures of badass protesters being glorious. Follow up with some people sticking their fists in The Power's nose and looking ridiculous at the same time. Cracked is all about sticking it to the man, but if you think the Vietnam protest movement had much to do with ending the war you are sadly mistaken.