Red snippets

by | Feb 14, 2010


I don’t like cell phones.  Never have, never will.  Reading this, I like them even less:

You’re not supposed to send dirty jokes by mobile phone in China, but don’t worry: service providers have some other great, inspiring content that has the government’s enthusiastic support.

Today’s Economic Daily includes a short article on “red snippets” (红段子) the positive, uplifting text messages that are now being rolled out on a national scale after a successful five-year trial in Guangdong and a few other places.

These messages have a dual purpose: taking the place of the dirty jokes and mocking attacks on the establishment that are the focus of the latest mobile content clean-up campaign is only one half of their role. Officials from the government and major industry players are also talking about using positive SMS to build up “the spirit of Chinese culture for an Internet age,” a sort of soft power against the encroachment of vulgar American pop culture.

Xie Zhenhua, the China Mobile Communications Association official who is the public face of the project, says they’re the modern equivalent of Tang poetry or the Three Character Classic. One example cited by most articles was forwarded more than 150,000 times the year it was created: “China’s rise and the people’s prosperity: we work hand in hand toward that glorious day.”

I just thought that being a new superpower would be more, you know, fun.

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