SARFT Senility

With their arteries popping, eyes bulging and limbs trembling, the antique paranoiacs who head SARFT (the useless and obsolete government body that’s trying, in effect, to banish youtube and all other forms of unapproved video from China’s Internet) are making a last-ditch effort to prove they deserve to exist. This blogger (who is finally back to serious blogging after a long hiatus) almost makes you feel sorry for the scoundrels.

I feel genuinely bad for SARFT: I used to think of them as joyless grey cogs of the type that inhabit Chinese government bureaus and American university administration, but now I see them more as a bunch of sad, frightened old men who control next to nothing, and guard it jealously. On quiet days, they sit around talking about how much better things were before all of that dad-blasted “iinter-web” hoo-ha that they keep hearing about, back in the good old days when the Red Guards – the original viral marketers – were as cool as Li Yuchun is today and when the only movies they had were from Albania, Russia, and North Korea. They’re scared, frail old men, and when they hear from their grandkids that there’s now technology allowing people to disseminate video content without restrictions, they get chest pains.

(There’s more, so check it out, and his other posts, too. ) This would be really funny if SARFT wasn’t serious about accomplishing their mission. The censors have shown that with the flip of a switch they can black out huge swathes of blogs and news portals, so why not “vlogs” as well? Personally, I think it would be an obscenely wasteful and stupid thing to do, considering how online videos have so rapidly caught on with China’s youth, who will be fittingly pissed if SARFT tries to pull the plug on their fun. As Brendan notes, most of the content is utterly harmless, and they’re only going apeshit because they can’t control it. If they pull this off, it’s another big step back for the reforming PRC.

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