Piece of garbage complains to China’s Bureau of Culture regarding punk legends SMZB
Written by Nathanel Amar
Recently a screenshot was widely circulated amongst the Chinese underground community. The screenshot was about an online complaint made to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture regarding punk legends SMZB‘s concert in Beijing which was staged at MAO Livehouse on December 10.
Every governmental department within China indeed has its own complaint department where individuals can raise issues to the proper authorities. Now with the advent of the internet age, a Chinese citizen can simply file an online complaint on any administrations’ website without having to send an official letter or go directly to the Bureau for Letters and Calls.
On December 5, 2017, a user named “Liu Haizhu” (刘海柱) filed an online complaint five days before SMZB’s Beijing concert:
Here is the translation of the complaint:
“Reporting to the authorities the concert of band SMZB in Beijing on December 10.
The band SMZB is going to perform at Beijing MAO Livehouse on December 10. It’s a punk band from Wuhan, punk bands lyrics are mostly wild, violent and involve politics. SMZB’s song “A song for Chen Huaimin” [“献给陈怀民的歌”] goes double. Chen Huaimin is a Guomindang [Chinese Nationalist Party] soldier, this band is praising the Guomindang in their song, depreciating the Communist Party, lowering the prestige of social stability and the construction of the nation.
Here is an excerpt of the song:
“They used two types of weapons, lies and violence, cheated everyone, to occupy this land. By the means of all means and having no sense of shame, to stand victorious, the real war hero, has long been forgotten by them. In front of your grave, we will have a look in your honor, now watching our society, you’re certain to be angrier. We pick up the guitar, as you steer the battle jet. We will keep on fighting, never give up”
An apparent automatic response was issued by the Beijing Bureau of Culture on December 11 (the day after the concert), saying that the complaint doesn’t meet the criteria for what files under their responsibility, and advise Liu Haizhu to contact the “Cultural Law Enforcement Department”.
The most probable explanation so far is that this complaint was made mainly to mess with the venue, MAO Livehouse. MAO Livehouse has indeed a long and storied history in Beijing, and the new MAO, located in Wukesong, continues to be in conflict with the old, now closed, MAO that was located on Guloudong dajie.
But what happened the day of the concert? SMZB did perform at MAO on December 10 with some Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture agents attending the concert. They did not intervene during the concert, but Wu Wei was told by the MAO staff to stop talking between the songs (as he always does). The only thing he said during the concert was “When we’re in the capital, we must say fewer things.”
We can also point out Liu Haizhu’s relative ignorance of Chinese history.
Chen Huaimin, praised by SMZB in their incriminated song (and the grand-father of Xu Bi, SMZB lead guitarist) was indeed a Guomindang pilot. He died in 1938 in the Sino-Japanese war during the Second United Front. The Second United Front was an alliance between the Chinese Nationalist Party and the Communist Party of China. A street in Wuhan is even named after Chen Huaimin. Liu Haizhu, apart from being a snitch, is distorting the song’s meaning – even though it’s pretty easy to find more sensitive songs by SMZB.
Though this petty and ill-informed complaint had little impact on SMZB’s concert, it epitomizes the current tense atmosphere regarding popular and underground music in China. During the last Midi Music Festival in Shenzhen on December 30-31, a worrying number of local police and law enforcement officers were patrolling the venue. Stage-diving was prohibited during the concerts, and members of SMZB had to shout at the police from the stage to harming the audience during the show. Even mainstream music is being severely controlled by the Party: hip hop singers have recently been removed from music shows on Chinese TV (even the singer GAI, who sings “long live my motherland” was removed).
Another band recently was also the subject of an online complaint found on the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture website regarding legendary metal band Voodoo Kungfu (零壹). In a very Maoist comment, Mr. Li accused the singer of Voodoo Kungfu of “publishing reactionary comments and pictures on Instagram […], ingesting blood on stage, using violence and pornography, singing vulgar and reactionary songs” and (a personal favorite complaint) “promoting open-air burial”.
This entire dilemma captures the current state of underground and mainstream music within China, and the tightening grip of the Communist Party on Chinese society. We thus must, more than ever, support local underground bands and venues.