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China: Video and song by Ai Weiwei banned

27 May 2013

The song and video for ‘Dumbass’, the first track from Ai Weiwei’s forthcoming heavy metal album, ‘Divine Comedy’, are being blocked on the Chinese Internet — along with the search term “Ai Weiwei”, reported several news media.

The track reconstructs Ai Weiwei’s 81-day detention in 2011, including what he says is an exact model of his cell. The 55-year-old artist told the British newspaper The Guardian his country was one of “crazy menace and inhuman conditions” and the video shows an “inch-accurate” recreation of the cell where he was held – down to its wallpaper.

The video was shot by famed Australian cinematographer Christopher Doyle and was published on YouTube.com on 21 May 2013. An English translation of the lyrics of the song has been published on shanghaiist.com.

“So many people think they can improve the situation or collaborate. I think that’s very wishful thinking in this political structure. It makes people not very conscious of what’s happening,” Ai Weiwei said.

In the song he growls: “When you’re ready to strike, he mumbles about non-violence … [I] stand on the frontline like a dumbass, in a country that puts out like a hooker. The fields are full of fuckers, dumbasses are everywhere.”

The album ‘Divine Comedy’ will be launched on 22 June 2013 — the second anniversary of his emergence from detention. Ai Weiwei wrote the lyrics for the album and sings, while his friend Zuoxiao Zuzhou provided the music.



BBC News – 22 May 2013:
Ai Weiwei rages against state abuses in song, Dumbass
Ai Weiwei’s single has been blocked in China


The Guardian – 22 May 2013:
Dumbass: Ai Weiwei releases heavy metal music video
Chinese artist says single is a way of venting the trauma he experienced while held in detention by the state. By Tania Branigan in Beijing


In a letter to the British newspaper The Guardian, published on 20 May 2013, He Rulong from the Chinese embassy in London wrote:

China does not restrict artistic freedom

“The accusation that China “restricts” press and artistic freedom (Letters, 3 May) is untrue and unacceptable. The constitution of the People’s Republic of China explicitly enshrines Chinese citizens’ right to freedom of expression and press in its article 35. The Chinese government attaches great importance to and protects such rights in accordance with law.
China now publishes 1,937 newspapers, 9,851 journals, 302,000 kinds of books, and owns over 500 radio and TV broadcasters. China also boasts the world’s biggest and most dynamic online community. Sina Weibo alone has more than 500 million registered users, posting 100m comments every day that cover wide-ranging topics and opinions.
Moreover, cultural undertakings in China are experiencing rapid development and great prosperity. Across the country there are over 200,000 performers and nearly 7,000 troupes…”
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