“If you wanna be my friend
Put my dick in your hand
Move it left, move it right
Try to lick, suck on it …”
What happened next was … noone did anything. The song kept going. The launch was on the forecourt of a major Beijing electronics chain. The song could be heard across the street. It was a dance number a local event planner obviously thought would give the function a funky edge. Clearly that planner had not studied English, at least not to the level of schoolboy anatomy.
And the above passage wasn’t just one verse. It seemed the only verse. So while 200 Chinese dignitaries nibbled away and exchanged pleasantries about the newest thing in laptop computers, every minute or so some needy man cried out for some attention to his penis.
Then his lady friend started singing and … oh my! It's fair to say she was actually no lady. She made her lewd friend sound like a choirboy. I can’t repeat what she said here but let’s just say she began demanding, with some urgency, that this man service her in a most uncompromising fashion.
Mercifully, the song came to a close.
And then it started again. It went round and round three or four times before it was at last time for the speeches. Next time, planners might ask an English speaker to check the lyrics. But it would probably never occur to most Chinese that people might sing about such things.*
|A laptop computer, yesterday. How anyone can associate|
a machine like this with images of people having sex is
beyond this correspondent ...
|... although it might be significant that this man, using his|
laptop in notorious filth-hole The Oval Office, refused to
show the contents of his screen for this photo.
Then one government official, known as a “wowser”, went around changing them all before the Beijing Olympics, and we all groaned and shuffled off home.
But sometimes when east meets west, when Chinese meets English in this country’s era of rapid change, the results can still be arresting.
I was dining with my little daughters in a restaurant featuring cuisine from the famed American food region of Kentucky. As we ate and I pondered the sweetness of the scene, I suddenly noticed the ambient music.
“Back, get back,
Coz’ I’m a motherf--king f—ker, that’s that”.
The man went on. It was hard to make out the words, a problem even he seemed aware of judging by his habit of asking “Know what I’m sayin’?” But as well as I could gather, it seemed he too had been endowed with quite a large penis and he wanted to celebrate by singing about it. The girls thought it was “the silliest song ever!”
A friend took his six-year-old daughter to her dance class at one of Beijing’s leading academies. On this day she was trying hip hop, and there it was again: a Chinese teacher, a little girl in leotard and sequins, and a big African-American man singing about sexual intercourse. With escorts!
Sometimes it’s great fun. Sometimes you try to remove the kids. If you can’t, you might try coughing loudly at key moments. In the KFC I almost passed out.
Censoring the visual form can still be hard. With 99 per cent of the world’s clothes made in China, many saucy English-language garments find their way onto local markets via the back of a truck. I saw a 70-year-old man riding his bike wearing a cap that said “I Want Your Sex”. And it’s not unusual to see some innocent-looking girl obliviously wearing an X-rated T-shirt.
Trouble is, it only goes one way. I’m at no risk of putting on a Chinese song at, say, a daughter’s birthday party only to be told that Xiao Li is singing about doing the nasty. The Chinese recording industry isn’t ready for that yet. For now, people still mostly sing about hands holding other hands, not penises. No doubt that will come later as the country continues to reform and the Chinese wake up to the potential of the hand-relief ballad market.
|Usually for the kids' music, if there's a choice I'll prefer|
something like this ...
|... over something like this.|
|iMe, a super-girly band drawn from the Asia-wide Super|
Girl reality show. Despite posing on a bed, they're not
about to start using it as something other than
a platform for soft fluffy toys anytime soon.
|And these girls, from S.H.E. aren't about to score. Not with|
|These chaps were too busy down the salon ...|
|... and it's safe to rule these guys out of any sexual activity|
for the foreseeable future.
|This is a new Chinese variation on|
the boy band genre. It's called a
|Beijing band 7+5 entertains Communist Party chiefs at the|
Great Hall of the People during this month's National
People's Congress, which they opened with their smash
hits Consultative Process (of the Heart) and
|An example of erroneously|
printed clothing. Everyone
knows it's a major faux pas
to leave chopsticks sticking
into a stylised loveheart.
It means "death".
For now, the Chinese must think we westerners are just a bunch perverts, that we can't even launch a computer without singing about genitals.
I sometimes feel the need to apologise and explain we're not all obsessed. Sometimes I'm just thankful most people listening can't understand English, or that my daughters can't yet understand that sort of English. Still, we have to be watchful. I've noticed our six-year-old Lani's just got a book called Gangsta Granny. Call me paranoid, but I'm going to check it for profanity.
* I’ve since found the song. For all this old dad knows it could be a worldwide smash on the hit parade! But you can look it up yourself if you’re not prudish and want to know what the crowd was being treated to that day. It’s called Juicy Pen and it’s by someone called DJ Ozi.
PS: This post comes with a graphic language warning. I should have put it at the top, really.