With China’s pervasive internet censorship within its borders, the global Sinophone mediascape outside of China has constructed an important site for ethnic Chinese groups worldwide to voice discontent against the powerful authoritarian state. On October 15, 2021, Malaysian Chinese rapper-songwriter Namewee released Fragile, a Mandarin-language music video on YouTube featuring Australian Chinese singer Kimberley Chen. Masqueraded as a love song, the track used many political and pop culture references to imply its political messages. For example, the artists utilized many kawaii (“cute” in Japanese) elements such as the pink color, stuffed animals, the dreamy and cute style and the artists’ innocent looks throughout the video to mock China’s authoritarian government and its nationalist online trolls, known as “little pinks” in Chinese. Within days of its release, Fragile was banned in China and both artists’ Weibo accounts—China’s equivalent of Twitter—were blocked. Within one month, the music video, subtitled in Chinese, English, and Malay was viewed for more than 30 million times on YouTube. Drawing from Ono and Sloop’s conceptualization of vernacular discourse (1995) and the recently expanded concepts by Yueh (2020), this study offers a textual analysis of the lyrics and visual rhetoric in this popular music video followed by an analysis of the fans’ comments on YouTube. The findings shed light on the netizens’ resistance of the Chinese hegemony that is largely unavailable in China and the global mainstream media. Finally, this study identifies some of the characteristics of the resistance movements in the transnational Sinophone mediascape.
Hsin-Yen Yang, Fort Hays State University, United States