China’s Green Dam, Johnny Depp, Garfield the Cat and Michael Jackson – What would Chairman Mao say?

China, oh China! Here we go again.

I think the worst job in the World must be trying to run a country of such gigantic proportions, in size and population.

Here in England, we might get a few grumpy students taking to the streets every now and then and a few policemen acting inappropriately towards them but in China, civil unrest could lead to billions of unhappy workers bringing the country to a standstill.

It is the Chinese government’s nightmare and it often leads it into trouble in the eyes of the liberal West.

The internet has long been a source of anxiety in the higher echelons of power in the Chinese politburo – it is just too..well… much too democratic. It is a medium, undreamt of in Chairman Mao’s little book of repression.

Today it looks as if China is making a partial climbdown on its so-called Green Dam project which is the new filtering system for computers which is being branded as a way for worried parents to filter out harmful or obscene images from their children – or child, I should say, as mostly there is a single child policy still in force in this country where rules are rules.

All those lonely single children – what else is there for them to do but watch pornography on their home computers?

The postponement of this new technology is not actually a sign of liberalisation in the government, it is our old friend the computer glitch.

Just like many other pieces of new computer technology it appears to be having teething problems. It uses a colour filter to check out for too much flesh which is their way of identifying hard pornography but some of the images considered disgusting and harmful are a picture of Johnny Depp’s face and a close up of the cartoon cat Garfield’s fur. Apparently the software even labeled a photograph of a plate of roast pork as obscene.

I am trying to put Depp, Garfield and a plate of pork together in a porn movie – I wonder if it would go down well in Beijing – the awful thing is, I can imagine it already. Sorry Johnny!

You can check for yourself by looking up the website:

I suspect though, and obviously I am not alone here, that glitches or no glitches, parental guidance, my ass! This technology is a bungled attempt amongst others to silence the chaotic, anarchic, often stupid and ignorant, but wonderfully free world of the international web.

I f I want to see Johnny doing inappropriate things with a ginger cat and the Sunday roast, then I believe that should be my right just as it should be the natural right of all those Chinese citizens.

This skin detecting technology is very strange – does it only look for pink skin, I wonder? If so, I think there will be a major genre of pornography that will come shockingly into the playrooms of those little lonely Chinese kids.

Even more intriguing is what it will make of the showbiz bonanza that is to be Michael Jackson’s funeral. Skin colour for the late, great but deeply confused musician, was always ambiguous. Maybe images of his sad, surgically mutilated face will finally throw the Chinese Green Dam technology into meltdown.

It would be a great memorial for Jackson, if his messed up life could finally liberate the much put upon Chinese population.

Before ending, I should say that I never really liked those recordings, Thriller and the others, I thought he was a fantastic dancer, a great performer but apart from the early Jackson Five songs, which have the great Motown touch, I am immune to the rest.

He was a showman and, by the sound of things, he will have a showman’s funeral. Sad, confused, sensitive and probably psychologically damaged, as he was, I think we have to acknowledge the magic that one individual can conjure in a World too often coloured grey by its rulers.

I hope the Chinese get the chance to taste the power, for good and for ill, of being a wacky individual.

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