CHINA: Chinese censors ban sexy satire about Mao
Censors in Beijing were unhappy that a book by a distinguished author features an adulterous couple whose foreplay includes smashing icons of Mao Zedong
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Chinese censors have banned a steamy political satire in which an army officer's wife and her lover smash up images of Mao Zedong to take them to new heights of sexual ecstasy.
The novella, Serve the People -- named after Mao's most famous slogan -- has been rejected for publication and a magazine that had been serializing the contents has been pulled from the shelves.
Although it was written by one of China's most distinguished authors, Yan Lianke, propaganda ministry officials were reportedly apoplectic when they first read the tale of sexual revolution inside the People's Liberation Army.
Set in 1967 -- at the peak of the Mao cult during the Cultural Revolution -- the novel tells the story of the bored wife of a military commander who takes advantage of her husband's absence to seduce a young peasant soldier.
As a signal that the orderly's services are desired in the bedroom, she leaves the slogan Serve the People on the kitchen table.
Whenever the passion flags, they smash her husband's beloved Mao icons, rip up the Little Red book or urinate on the Great Helmsman's epigrams.
During the Cultural Revolution, defacing an image of Mao was punishable by death. Even today, the face of the founder of the republic remains a near-sacred object. A giant portrait stares out over Tiananmen Square, his face appears on every banknote, and many Beijing taxi drivers dangle it as a lucky charm for their cabs.
"This novella slanders Mao Zedong, the army and is overflowing with sex," said the edict by the propaganda department quoted in the South China Morning Post. "Do not distribute, pass around, comment on, excerpt from or report on it."
Although the entire print run of the Huacheng literary magazine has been confiscated, Serve the People has become a hit on the Internet. Commentators have praised it as a subversive critique of official corruption, leadership hypocrisy and the insanity of the Cultural Revolution.
Mao's sexual appetite is well known after the publication of a biography by his doctor Li Zhisui , who revealed that the chairman bedded thousands of peasant women because he believed in the healing power of intercourse.
Yan has refused to comment on the work, saying he is concerned for his family's safety.
It is not the first time that he has had a work banned. An earlier novel, Shouhou (Feeling Good) -- the story of a rural official who rents Lenin's corpse to promote his town's tourism industry -- was pulled for its negative depiction of China's proto-capitalism.
Yan said he had not been given any reason why his latest novella was rejected.
"I didn't expect this would happen, but I am not very surprised either," he said.
Date Posted: 3/26/2005