I’m no longer certain where I first came across this story, but Beijing has decided they want to clean up their large and growing stake in the Internet by ridding it of the “three vulgarities: banality, kitsch and debased culture.”
The first question is, why stop at three?
But, on reflection, these three cover the bases, especially when you consider what a great catchall “debased culture” makes.
I do find it interesting that the Chinese standards mavens are going after banality and kitsch on the ‘net, given that they are such mega-producers of the utterly banal kitsch-ery that comprises so much of the American consumer experience.
Many the times I have speculated about what’s going on in the mind of some poor peasant who’s just left the hardscrabble farm, where the mud-daub house contained few decorative frills, for a job in a factory that makes junk for the U.S. market. What are they thinking when they work on those electronic Santas that do the twist to the tune of “Jingle Bell Rock”? Easter egg ornaments? Sponge Bob balloons? Happy Meal gimcrack? Barbie outfits?
I realize that the Chinese are going after the three vulgarities on the Internet, not in Walmart, but I do believe they’re on to something.
Too bad that something of this sort can’t happen here. It’s just ao against the zeitgeist of our free to be you and me culture. We can be as gloriously banal, kitsch and culturally debased as we want to be. (Oh, lucky us.) Remember the ridicule Tipper Gore was subjected to when she tried to do a little policing around bitch-ho et al. lyrics? I sure do.
Still, there are a few things wouldn’t mind seeing a little less of:
- The Kardashians. Talk about the three vulgarities. Not that I’ve seen their show, but I did catch a bit of them on Nightline the other day, in a piece that included a bit on the sisters that are right behind them in the queue. Apparently, these little girls (age 9 or 10) were included in one of the early Kardashian “reality” show episodes, where they were shown pole-dancing. The Kardashians make Paris Hilton look interesting and accomplished. At least she’s something we’re been gawking at since the Vanderbilts built in Newport: an heiress. (And don’t get me goin’ on Snooki…)
- Size XXL Disney character clothing, with special emphasis on that portraying any character related to Winnie-the-Pooh. Disney characters may be banal and kitschy, but a lot of them are pretty cute. And I’m completely down with little kids wearing Tigger apparel. But I’m completely down on adults, and I’ll be really snotty here and make that especially obese adults, tricked out in Winnie-the-Pooh anything. There is no excuse for this; none whatsoever. I’m not so opposed to items that show Mickey Mouse, who is ageless and timeless, and nowhere near as banal and kitschy as Winnie-the-Pooh (Disney version – personally, I prefer the A.A. Milne depiction of Pooh). I’d be willing to go to trade-war to keep Size XXL Winnie the Pooh sweatshirts out of our country.
- Stretch limos – I don’t know why these drive me so crazy – maybe because there always seem to be liquored-up Kardashian wanna-be’s hanging out the sun roof, yelling and waving a bottle of champagne – but, if the good lord had wanted us to have stretch limos, he wouldn’t have invented the bus, trolley car, or duckboat. I would have thought that stetch-mos had died out when the economy started to sputter, but no… The other day I watched a stretched out Hum-vee – the size of the house I grew up in – pass me by. Cease and desist already.
I was going to put Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, on my list, but it seems that this may be taking care of itself. In June, one of his production companies filed for bankruptcy, right after he was supposed to pay some gallery owners the judgment they were awarded in a fraud suit.
Plus I don’t want to over do things here. The Chinese are limiting themselves to the three vulgarities, and I’ll just do the same.
Info source on the Anti Three Vulgarities campaign.