This is the 1510 Digest, a weekly roundup of recent essays and articles published on the Chinese web, with links to translations on the Marco Polo Project.
From weibo politeness to SMS abuse, this week’s digest brings together three pieces reflecting on the role of language as social lubricant or source of symbolic violence. Novelist Pian Pian offers an advice column on how to deal with passive aggressive personality types; cultural commenter Kan Chai advocates a more formal use of weibo @’ing; film critic Cui Weiping warns against the dangers of symbolic language, and articulates instead an ethics of intellectual and literary realism.
Ying Zhu is the author of a new book on China’s state-owned television network, China Central Television or CCTV. Two Billion Eyes – The Story of China Central Television is the story of CCTV as the personal stories of the people of CCTV which the author engaged with via extensive interviews. Yet it also paints a complex picture of the network that has become an archetype of the Chinese model. Two Billion Eyes is published by The New Press and will be available on 2 October 2012. Read more
Various numbers about China’s Internet, telecoms and media have been released over the last week or so. CNNIC, a government body that issues reports and statistics on the Chinese Internet, released its mid year report.
Some numbers from the report:
The total number of Internet users reached 538 million (about 40% of the population) by June, up from 513 million in December 2011.
388 million people use mobile phones to get online; the report emphasizes that mobile devices are now far and away the most common way Chinese people get online.
There are 146 million ‘village netizens’(农村网民) or Internet users in rural areas. Read more
A spokesman for the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) announced yesterday that some original drama series and films on video websites like Youku.com and Tudou.com don’t meet government censorship standards and contain unacceptable dirty language, violence and sex. Read more
Today we present the Danwei Model Worker Awards 2012, a list of the best specialist websites, blogs and online sources of information about China. Read more
The front page of today’s People’s Daily features the article, “Internet rumors harm people and harm our society. The public must not believe or transmit rumors.” Unlike most of the state media reports on Internet rumors, this one actually lists ten cases of Internet rumors that have harmed society in recent years:
This morning, a reader drew my attention to an article on Danwei:
Alongside the movement for a “civilized” Internet, the anti-Super Girls campaign seems to be picking up steam as well. China Times published an interview yesterday with Liu Zhongde, one of the most outspoken critics of the Super Girls phenomenon.
China has a long tradition of erotic art but pornographic films and pictures are currently illegal. Despite frequent anti-porn clampdowns, pornography remains available both online and in the form of DVDs.
A paper titled A Peep at Pornography Web in China compiled by scholars at Xi’an Jiatong University is one of the few authoritative sources of pornography statistics. The scholars examined “part of network traffic in Northwest Net of China, from Mar. 29 2009 to Jan. 25 2010″ and “collected 92,950 online porn web pages from 1,826 porn sites” of which only 12.8% were hosted on servers inside China. The paper looks at usage patterns of the people detected visiting porn sites, but does not attempt to derive any numbers about porn use nationwide.
Nonetheless, anecdotal evidence suggests demand for porn in China is growing. Aside from professionally produced films, there is a growing subculture of DIY porn movies, which is one of the subjects Dr. Katrien Jacobs examines in her new book, People’s Pornography: Sex and Surveillance on the Chinese Internet.
James Griffiths recently interviewed Dr. Jacobs about her new book:
Notes about social criticism and black humor on the Chinese Internet, by Victor H. Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.