Irony as Protest in China

Truly nuanced, self-aware social discussion may still be in the future but among educated Chinese the government's baldest self-contradictions no longer pass unremarked.

Irony is beginning to make some incursions into the straight-faced bastion of mainstream print media. Last year the Sanlian Life Weekly, one of China's more forward-thinking general-interest magazines, ran an article concurrently with the premiere of the film The Founding of a Republic, the Chinese government's painfully un-ironic love song to itself on the occasion of its 60th birthday. The article, a fake travelogue, explored "micro-nations" around the world, praising imaginary countries like Sealand and Molossia in over-the-top terms and obliquely poking fun at China's ambitions of becoming a "great nation."

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