#KholoBC

« previous post | next post »

Bina Shah, "Trying to Dam a Digital Sea", NYT 4/10/2014:

In September 2012, the Pakistani government expanded a ban on some YouTube contributors to a blockage of the whole video-sharing site, because the anti-Muslim film “Innocence of Muslims” had appeared on it. Eighteen months later, the ban remains, exposing a simmering struggle within Pakistan over the basic issue of freedom of expression and information that could be decided in court next month. [...]

Alongside the legal battle, an irreverent social media campaign called #KholoBC has also emerged. Engineered by the Pakistan for All movement, a collective of young Pakistani tech enthusiasts, it features a song released by the Pakistani musician Talal Qureshi, the rapper Adil Omar and the comedian Ali Gul Pir with lyrics too rude to print in this newspaper. (So is a translation of the campaign’s name.) 

This squeamishness is familiar: See "The Gray Lady gets coy again", 4/21/2013, and the links therein.

And just in case you were wondering whose squeamishness it was:

As for what the NYT editors were being squeamish about, a quick web search turns up e.g.  "#KholoBC Viral Music Video Fights Pakistan's YouTube Ban", Global Voices 3/1/2014:

#KholoBC, a rap song sung partly in Urdu, partly in English by hip hop and rock singer and comedian Ali Gul Pir and rapper Adil Omar, has gone viral on social media. The tongue-in-cheek music video is part of a youth initiative, Pakistan For All, against Internet censorship in Pakistan. Last year, Pakistan for All released another video to make a noise against the YouTube ban in the country, “If you want me back, hug me“; the YouTube mascot from that video makes an appearance in this one. 

Part of the song's success is in it's clever title, “Kholo Ban Chor”. “Kholo” means “open”, “ban” means “ban”, and “chor” means “thief”, so the English translation, “open the ban, you thief” seems more than appropriate to the subject matter. But “ban chor” sounds like another word in Urdu, “bhen chod”, which means “sister-fucker”, and “BC” is a commonly used acronym for the term.

Here's the video itself:

 

The lyrics (with translations) can be found at Rap Genius. The Urdu hook, followed by an English translation:

Kholo ban, chor, salai, haq hain marain
Gira daingai tumhari yeh proxy deewarain
Kholo ban, chor, salai, haq hain marain
Gira daingai tumhari yeh proxy deewarain
Kholo ban, chor, salai, haq hain marain
Gira daingai tumhari yeh proxy deewarain
Kholo ban, chor, salai – (kholo ban)

Open the ban, you thieves and morons, these are our rights
We will break down your proxy walls
Open the ban, you thieves and morons, these are our rights
We will break down your proxy walls
Open the ban, you thieves and morons, these are our rights
We will break down your proxy walls
Open the ban, you thieves and morons — (open the ban)

 The pun on Kholo ban chor is not explicit in the lyrics, but presumably the "rude" parts that Gray Lady couldn't quote include a few of the lines from Adil Omar's (second) half of the song, which is in English. Thus maybe "Hide My Ass" (which is the name of a Web Proxy service) in

We storm the PTA office, bring reporters and cameras
Rocking V for Vendetta masks like anonymous hackers
Was going viral on the web, I was stomping some rappers
But now I have to Hide My Ass with a proxy and password

Or "pricks", "fucking internet", and "bullshit" in these couplets:

They go enforce their censorship, but ignore the bigger threats
I doubt these pricks can even grasp the fucking internet
Let alone be in charge of important decisions
Blatant hypocrisy with bullshit moral convictions

 

 

Share:



6 Comments »

  1. Ben Zimmer said,

    April 12, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

    A fine example of what Jesse Sheidlower was complaining about in his recent NYT op/ed piece, "The Case for Profanity in Print." Editorial squeamishness (even across linguistic boundaries) can seriously impede public understanding of what's being reported.

  2. Sam Blake said,

    April 12, 2014 @ 6:51 pm

    My personal grief with this editing approach is not so much with the squeamishness as the self-righteousness.

    Why not say "a song [...] whose offensive lyrics have inflamed popular opinion"? Or "a song [...] with lyrics that cleverly speak against the government with the very sort of vulgar language that government would seek to block"? Or just "an irreverent song"?

    I don't see what possible advantage, journalistic or linguistic, there could be to going out of the way to say "look at how sensitive and bourgeois we are, not like those filthy rappers".

  3. adbge said,

    April 12, 2014 @ 7:17 pm

    Ben Zimmer nails it. The silver lining: we are free to appreciate feats of linguistic acrobatics as journalists attempt to route around certain words while simultaneously avoiding awkwardness. (And failing, with phrases like, "a blunt expletive when expressing frustration." I'm left wondering — which?)

  4. Antariksh Bothale said,

    April 12, 2014 @ 9:34 pm

    If you listen to the actual song, it practically sounds like "Kholo bhenchod" (Open, sisterfucker). It's sorta apparent that the singers aren't even making an effort to articulate it with the "Kholo ban chor" pronunciation. :-)

    (I agree that the two sound pretty similar, but still…)

  5. richardelguru said,

    April 13, 2014 @ 6:47 pm

    Ah! Kenneth Tynan, we need you now…

  6. Ginger Yellow said,

    April 14, 2014 @ 6:36 am

    Funnily enough, that article linked to by Ben Zimmer is accompanied by an illustration that would fall foul of the NYT style guide if it were in the copy.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Comment