“I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means”

Now, I know what you must be thinking. Why are there two striped mugs at the top of this post? What could they possibly have to do with anything we have talked about in this International Communication class? Well, the answer is that unless you already know what they mean they are in fact useless. For me, these two seemingly ordinary mugs are representative of the fandom that I’m involved in online. They are inside jokes that only I get. But, to anyone else they are just two striped mugs.

So, what’s the point of starting this blog post off with an inside joke? Now that answer actually relates back to some of the discussion we were having in class. Meng’s article, ” From Steamed Bun to Grass Mud Horse: E Gao as alternative political discourse on the Chinese Internet” discusses the way that Chinese citizens are using e gao as ways to express political sentiments without actually being politics like using alternate words to substitute words that are being censored by the Chinese government.

One that we talked about in class for example is the use of “River Crab” to mean “harmony” as they are spelled the same and can only be differentiated when spoken. What makes it even more comical is that “harmony” was being used as a code to mean “censorship” before the Chinese government figured out what was going on and censored the word “harmony”. The enemy of the river crab is the grass mud horse, which when pronounced differently roughly translates to my father’s favorite phrase “F-You”. The phrase “Grass Mud Horse” has also become a phrase used among the Chinese on the Internet.

To me, the idea of using online video spoofs, phrases and things that could be considered entertainment to get around the censorship of the government is a rather brilliant idea. However, it makes me wonder how long this can be kept up. Eventually, I feel that the government is going to figure out how political views continue to be expressed even though they are supposedly being censored. This situation sort of reminds me of children playing on facebook when their parents join. They begin using acronyms like “wtf” and “lol”, but eventually the parents catch on.

I mean, nothing stays secret long on the Internet. Not endings to televisions shows or films, so who is to say that the Chinese government aren’t continuously trying to decode the phrases and create new reasons for the censorship? I guess the point I’m getting at here is that while I’m extremely impressed by the ingenuity of the Chinese people to infuse popular culture with political discourse, I feel like it’s a constant chase to stay ahead of the government and the censorship that is almost inevitable.



Meng, B. (2011). From steamed bun to grass mud horse: E gao as alternative political discourse on the chinese internet. Global Media and Communication, 7(33), 33-51. doi: 10.1177/1742766510397938


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