Viral pushback against the imperial dragon in a dragon year

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A sarcastic song for the new year by the awesome Namewee (Huáng Míngzhì 黃明志), featuring Winnie Poohpooh (aka Xi Dada) clad in imperial dragon robe:

The video is provided with trilingual subtitles — Chinese, Malay, and English — so if you listen and look closely, you should be able to glean much of what's going on, but I will provide some background and explanatory notes to make things easier and more meaningful, especially for novice viewers.

First of all, a few words about the singer songwriter and his names:

Wee Meng Chee (Chinese: 黃明志; pinyin: Huáng Míngzhì; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Ûiⁿ Bêng-chì; born 6 May 1983), widely known by his stage name Namewee (/ˈnm.w/), Malaysian hip hop recording artist, composer, filmmaker and actor. His stage name is a bilingual pun on his first name, the English term for 'name' (Chinese: 名字; pinyin: míngzi). 

(source)

Plenty of cleverness right there to begin with.

We at Language Log already know Namewee quite well, through his blockbuster hit "It Might Break Your Pinky Heart" (10/22/21).  Among other things, it was a sharp denunciation of the Great Firewall (= censorship) in the PRC.  In other songs and videos, Namewee has taken on such sensitive subjects as Wolf Warrior diplomacy, political corruption, speculative investment….  His targets in the PRC are almost endless.

Next is the phrase "lóng de chuánrén 龙的传人 ("Descendants of the Dragon"), whiech is repeated endlessly, and is a reference to the alleged 5,000 years of continuous Chinese civilization.  It was the title of a seminal work by Taiwanese songwriter Hóu Déjiàn 侯德健 (b. 10/1/56), who wrote it in late 1978 as a protest against the official recognition of the PRC by the US, which was announced on December 15, 1978.

One of the most amazing things about this video is the uncanny AI replication of Xi Jinping's voice near the begining and at the end.  I must say that I was quite stunned to hear it.

As Namewee's fans caution, better not go to dragon land.  If he does, he might soon be "missed", like so many redoubtable figures who have tickled the wyvern's whiskers.

Oh, I almost forgot to say that  Namewee's dragon song garnered nearly three million views and more than ten  thousand comments in less than three days.

 

Selected reading

These also good:

[Thanks to shaing tai and Geoff Wade]



13 Comments »

  1. David Marjanović said,

    January 29, 2024 @ 5:15 pm

    Very complex! It's so fast-paced I had to watch it about four times to have any hope of watching, listening, reading the English subtitles and seeing if I recognized anything in the Chinese ones!

    What I find most striking, but probably shouldn't, is how Singaporean the spoken parts sound.

    Also nice how the scene during the credits sounds very formal but is actually in Beijing dialect.

  2. Jessica said,

    January 29, 2024 @ 7:17 pm

    This song has many interesting gags. At 1:45, the banner on the back shows “聋的传人” instead of “龙的传人”. “五筒(武统)天下” is the military reunification of Taiwan. "全数通过" implied not even a single objection on his third round of presidency.

  3. DS said,

    January 29, 2024 @ 7:19 pm

    It's amazing to know the history of "Descendants of Dragon" 龙的传人 as so!

    Well, once a text / piece of artwork leaves its author, it's open to interpretations and re-interpretations. As a Chinese and growing up listening to the song (and also really fond of of its original Taiwanese singer Lee Chien-fu 李建復), it's however the first time to know why the song was written in the first place. Quite difficult to see from its lyrics, though! Thanks LL for always providing these lovely, amazing, and niche information that keeps broadening my view. :)

  4. Weni said,

    January 29, 2024 @ 9:06 pm

    Must also watch the prelude of this song from Namewee's facebook:

    https://www.facebook.com/story.php/?id=100044259678018&story_fbid=951459839672663

    More AI replication of the voice of Chairman Xi can be found there.

  5. Victor Mair said,

    January 29, 2024 @ 9:52 pm

    Thank you, Weni, for that additional clip of AI-generated Xi-speak.

    And now I ask the AI and voice recognition specialists on LL if they can detect telling difference between the AI Xi and the real Xi.

  6. Jessica said,

    January 30, 2024 @ 12:22 am

    Here is an additional video regarding him with this content. https://youtube.com/shorts/pDgLimo4e6o?si=EokImDMiw9Fbawyw

  7. Thomas said,

    January 30, 2024 @ 1:11 am

    I guess it's okay as a protest song, but I find it inferior to his previous work. The English subtitles make for awkward reading in any case.

  8. Victor Mair said,

    January 30, 2024 @ 9:16 am

    @Thomas

    It's working spectacularly well for millions of people around the world.

  9. David Marjanović said,

    January 30, 2024 @ 10:25 am

    The English subtitles make for awkward reading in any case.

    How would you improve them?

  10. David Marjanović said,

    January 30, 2024 @ 10:30 am

    Here is an additional video regarding him with this content.

    Ah! The prequel!

  11. Chau said,

    January 31, 2024 @ 12:57 am

    There are two expository videos available in the Internet, providing detailed explanations for most of the hidden messages in the MV.

    (1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QijwKYZKeAc
    This is narrated in Hong Kong Cantonese with Mandarin subtitles.

    (2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YwMROKFA3A
    This is narrated in Mandarin with English subtitles.

  12. Victor Mair said,

    January 31, 2024 @ 8:43 am

    @Chau

    Thank you so much for those two expository videos. They are invaluable for understanding the internet language, political allusions, puns, hip-hop jargon (e.g., "skrr"), and all sorts of other symbolisms (e.g., the star / asterisk-looking diacritic at the top right of the character for dragon in the title — it is the "spiky ball" icon for the COVID-19 pandemic) in the Namewee video.

    Depending upon how much time you have, watching these two explanatory videos can be richly rewarding for understanding current pop, political culture in the Sinosphere.

    David Marjanović will undoubtedly be intensely interested in what they have to offer.

  13. David Marjanović said,

    February 1, 2024 @ 1:00 pm

    So much so that I even learned a few things from the first one, where whole minutes can pass without me understanding anything! :-)

    At least the second video doesn't mention what the "wastewater" refers to. That's where the YouTube subtitles of the original help. They're in Malay, and in that place they contain the word radioaktif.

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