China now not only has more people online than the US has citizens and many are getting slyly creative. They're using old icons in new ways posting mash-ups of vintage People's Liberation Army choir footage with modern pop hits. The World's Mary Kay Magistad has more from Beijing.
MARCO WERMAN: The Chinese these days are making an interesting use of old things. In this case, though, they're doing it online. They're making video mash-ups, combining vintage footage of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Choir, with modern music hits. The World's Mary Kay Magistad has more from Beijing.
MARY KAY MAGISTAD: China's People's Liberation Army, or Red Army, choir is best known for songs like this. This is their anthem. One line goes, ?Our troops march toward the sun, toward victory, toward the liberation of the nation.? And who could forget the classic, The East is Red. Back in the day, the Chinese Red Army choir sang songs like these, and acted out whole revolutionary operas, preserved on film. But punch in ?Chinese Red Army Choir? on YouTube today, and you'll find those rosy-cheeked patriotic soldiers lip-synching, sort of, to the likes of this. Picture a wholesome, female PLA soldier singing this, while the PLA band plays brass and strings behind her. Not all the video matches, but its close enough that it sometimes looks like the soldiers really are singing about how Russian roulette isn't the same without a gun. There's a whole set of these mash-ups. Michael Jackson's ?Beat It,? Madonna's ?Four Minutes,? and of course? Even Freddy Mercury might have appreciated the chubby Red Army singer in the Mao cap acting out this one. The videos have created a buzz online. One viewer joked, ?Wow, the Chinese Red Army Choir can sing anything!? Another felt it made the PLA seem almost cuddly. And a third young Chinese guy felt the need to defend these mash-ups against the accusation that they were irreverent, or disrespectful. He argued that Chinese youth can be patriotic and still have a sense of humor. That's a little revolutionary in itself. China has come a long way since the days when people could be thrown in prison or worse for dropping their Mao buttons. But even today, political satire is still thin on the ground in China, still considered subversive enough that it could get you in trouble. The one place that's providing fertile ground for it is the internet, where you can post anonymously, watch the hits and comments roll in and in your real life never have to break your poker face. For The World, I'm Mary Kay Magistad in Beijing.
WERMAN: Want to see China's Red Army choir singing Poker Face? You know you do. You can check out that video, plus others, at TheWorld.org.