Ai Weiwei covers “Gangnam Style”; Times won’t say “Fuck your mother”
As has been widely reported by now, Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei (who has a show at the Hirshorn in Washington D.C. Oct. 7-Feb. 24) put out a cover version of South Korean artist PSY’s ubiquitous pop song “Gangnam Style.” The New York Times says “the artist, who mimics the mock horse-riding dance moves of the original while wearing handcuffs in his remix, calls his version “Grass-Mud Horse Style,” a reference to a Chinese Internet meme that employs a pun on an obscene phrase to mock government censorship of the Web.”
The irony is that, in a country without government censorship of the web, the Times refuses to translate the obscene phrase, censoring themselves. In this case, the Times’ standards of decency (“All the news that’s fit to print”) greatly interfere with the paper’s ability to report the news. Robert Mackey, reporting on Ai Weiwei’s cover of PSY, cites and links back to “my colleague Michael Wines,” who wrote “a thorough explication of the meme in 2009.” How thorough? Wines defines the grass-mud horse as “a mythical creature whose name, in Chinese, sounds very much like an especially vile obscenity.”
But the Times wouldn’t allow Wines to translate it in 2009 and they still won’t today. So we’ll say it for you NYT: Fuck your mother.