The Dirtiest Man in China:小沈阳崛起背后的中国文化、社会以及网络语境的变迁

背景音乐:Glazed Knees by Snow Patrol

题记: 针对近日“《新闻周刊》炮轰小沈阳低俗”一事,大多数评论只是断章取义,东西网独家全文翻译《newsweek》原文。这篇文章反映了小沈阳的崛起背后中国文化、社会以及网络语境的变迁,而绝非之前的炮轰论调。

英文原文:

The Dirtiest Man in China

Melinda Liu and Isaac Stone Fish

The success of cross-dressing comedian Little Shenyang shows that sexual humor is coming out of the closet. Is China ready for raunch?

Comedy is on the rise in China, and one of its unlikeliest stars is a cross-dressing performer known as Xiao Shenyang, or “Little Shenyang.” Born in hardscrabble northeast China, the 29-year-old comedian has a reputation for gender-bending costumes (sparkly hair bows, women’s blouses, a sports bra) and occasional vulgarity. That made his debut on the national stage all the more remarkable. Little Shenyang appeared in last year’s Lunar New Year gala show organized by state-run CCTV, a yearly holiday ritual that typically tops the charts for TV viewership. While his jokes were scrubbed clean of sexual innuendo that night, the fresh-faced youth did wear a skirt—calling it a “Scottish kilt.” After he said something perceived as effeminate, another comedian, Zhao Benshan, called him a Chinese name that means either “ass kisser” or “ass demon”—derogatory slang for homosexual. The audience roared with laughter. (Later Zhao, who is Little Shenyang’s mentor and China’s most popular TV star, denied any homosexual connotations. “How do I know what words gay people use? I don’t associate with them,” he told NEWSWEEK.) Little Shenyang was an instant hit with the show’s 600 million–strong audience, prompting so many Netizens to Google his name that his hits temporarily exceeded those for Mao Zedong and Jesus Christ combined.

Little Shenyang’s sudden stardom reflects the shifting standards of permissiveness in Chinese society. The government is cracking down harder than ever on discussion of politically sensitive topics, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the banned Falun Gong spiritual sect, and the failings of top leaders. Censors have shut down blogs featuring controversial political views (called “black” content), jailed outspoken Netizens, crossed swords with Google over the official ban on certain words and phrases, and tightened controls over traditional media. Yet at the same time, dirty jokes and other sex-related topics—which Chinese have dubbed “yellow content”—are venturing out of the closet, onto the stage, and into public discourse. “It’s clear that ‘yellow’ humor’s okay, but ‘black’ humor is still not allowed,” says Li Yinhe, a social scientist and China’s leading expert on gay culture.

To be sure, not all “yellow” content is publicly permissible. This February, 3,000 Web sites and 270 blogs were shut down for “vulgarity or pornography.” Guangdong Webmaster Huang Yizhong was sentenced to 13 years after showing porn clips on his site. One of the biggest taboos these days is the pairing of yellow and black humor. Earlier this year, for instance, authorities clamped down on satirical spoofs pitting evil “river crabs”—which in Chinese sound like the words for “harmony,” a political mantra identified with President Hu Jintao—against the virtuous “grass mud horse,” or caonima, which is a homonym for the sexually explicit expletive “f–k your mother.” The wildly popular “grass mud horse” allegories spawned the manufacture of caonima plush toys, droning scholarly treatises about the beast, and a children’s song that went viral on YouTube.

But authorities seem more tolerant when the raunch comes from a wholesome source. Indeed, Little Shenyang comes across not just as an edgy comedian but as a talented singer and down-to-earth 20-something as well. In person, he is modest, even polite, making it hard to imagine him telling off-color jokes, chugging multiple beers onstage, and prancing about in full makeup, a tuxedo, and sequined hair clips, squeaking, “I’m all man!” In an interview with NEWSWEEK, he denied that his unconventional stage persona had any homosexual message. “It’s just a performing style to make people laugh, to be closer to real life,” he says. “I act in the way a boy I once knew in my hometown village did. His parents had longed for a girl, [so] they dressed him up as one. It has nothing to do with gay issues.” He denies speculation that he’s homosexual, and has a 5-year-old daughter with his wife, Shen Chunyang, who often performs with him onstage.

Since he catapulted to fame last year, he’s acted in a film by renowned director Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, Hero), filmed on location for another movie directed by Zhao, cut a music video, and traveled to Taiwan with other performers for a sold-out show in early July. His following is devoted. “He can play the sissy, and he can also be macho,” says English teacher Liu Shuan, 38, after she watched him perform earlier this year in Beijing. Another fan, 20-something Sun Xiaomin, waved a signboard declaring LITTLE SHENYANG, WE LOVE YOU! from her front-row seat at the same show. “He’s a natural-born comedian and sings so well,” she says. “He doesn’t need to do crazy stuff.”

The Little Shenyang phenomenon is mainly the provenance of China’s post-’80s generation—youths who became adults after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. But it’s also a throwback to earlier, less uptight times. Westerners sometimes perceive Chinese society—incorrectly—as sexually conservative. That prudish image grew out of the communist Chinese regime’s obsession with social control. In fact, cross-dressing performers and gay culture had thrived in China for centuries before the communists grabbed power in 1949. In Mao’s time, especially during the tumultuous 1966–76 Cultural Revolution, artists and performers were restricted to “revolutionary” styles and themes, homosexuals were persecuted, and nosy neighborhood committees monitored marriage and divorce.

Only after Mao’s death in 1976 did authorities begin to dial back on their intervention in sexual matters. Today, authorities still occasionally crack down on high-profile gay and lesbian community activities—as they did in January at a “Mr. Gay China” pageant in Beijing. Against this backdrop, Little Shenyang is both cutting-edge and old-fashioned in his evocation of prerevolutionary China. “That someone who acts as a character that’s neither a man nor a woman can get on a stage and be seen by 600 million people, that’s clearly a breakthrough in China,” says Liang Long, the cross-dressing lead singer of Second Hand Rose, a popular Chinese indie band.

Indeed, Little Shenyang’s style of comedy—called er ren zhuan, or “two-person twist”—has deep traditional roots and routines. Unlike Western stand-up comedy, two-person twist is part verbal sparring between a man and a woman (often a married couple), part pop concert, and part rambunctious physical comedy à la Jerry Lewis with outrageous costumes. (One favorite skit involves a male comedian chugging a bottle of beer onstage while standing on his head on a chair.) Dating back at least 300 years, this form of comedy originated in northeast China, where ribald itinerant performers told dirty jokes, sang, and danced in farming communities to entertain peasants during the frigid and fallow winter months. (Little Shenyang was born in northern Liaoning, where Shenyang is the provincial capital and the origin of his stage name; his real name is Shen He.)

Men from this area are perceived as the Archie Bunkers of China—stubborn, beefy, primitive, and goofy. The region’s comedy plays up that stereotype, although Little Shenyang’s gender-bending ambiguity has lent him a more contemporary image. In one recent show, he wore imperial-style silk robes with a pink Hello Kitty backpack. Still, his recent public performances are tame by Western standards. The banter is more 1950s I Love Lucy style than Jim Carrey or Andy Kaufman. In one performance not long ago, he declared he could “tell immediately whether a man and a woman are a couple.” How? “If the woman walks into a plate-glass window and the man immediately massages her injury, they definitely aren’t a couple. But if the man shouts at her ‘Are you blind?’ they must be married!”

Indeed, ribald humor may be ascendant in China, but it nonetheless relies on innuendo, allegory, and puns, which allow performers to deny they’re being “vulgar”—a characterization that remains officially frowned upon. “I don’t know what is regarded as ‘vulgar,’ but I know audiences like my performances,” Little Shenyang says. “Er ren zhuan comedy used to have sexual content in the past, but my teacher Zhao Benshan made reforms.” Both performers practice a “green,” or healthy version of the comedic form.

Little Shenyang attributes much of his success to Zhao’s support. The entrepreneurial Zhao opened a school in northeast China to train performers in the style. Although sex jokes were a staple of prerevolutionary comedy in the region, Zhao says he aimed to “clean up” the two-person twist “so everyone can appreciate it.” He also acknowledges that live performances may include dirtier jokes than televised ones. For example, during a public stage performance in Shenyang, one comedian made fun of the bandleader for having tummy trouble while traveling with a Japanese acquaintance: “You know, the Japanese are really advanced; they don’t have cell phones anymore, they just make phone calls out of their hands. Then the next day the bandleader shows up, and he’s got toilet paper sticking out of his butt. The Japanese guy says, ‘What’s that?’ and the bandleader says, ‘We Chinese are pretty advanced too. This is a fax machine.’ ”

The line between acceptable and taboo can seem very fine. In a more private performance at Zhao’s school, a man dressed as a woman exposed a fake breast and squirted milk into the face of a dying Chinese soldier—a scene Zhao says wouldn’t be allowed in a public performance because it bordered on bad taste.

The immense popularity of both Little Shenyang and Zhao relies on their ability to steer clear of political sensitivities—despite the obvious opportunities to take pot shots at Chinese politicians. (Satirical mimicry is another feature of er ren zhuan.) The young protégé says his performances “are disconnected from politics,” and he restricts his imitations of famous people to other singing stars.

Little Shenyang still toys with becoming a singing star himself. Growing up in poverty, he slept on train-station benches while traveling with the performing troupe he joined after grade school. His mother was an amateur er ren zhuan performer who sometimes brought her young son along to sing at funerals. There Little Shenyang developed the sweet, poignant voice that captivates fans today. Eager for more, he trained long and hard to overcome stage fright, the jeering of his peers, and the condescension of his neighbors. “When I was young, colleagues used to laugh at me when I performed and shout ‘Get off the stage,’ ” he says. “I’d rather be beaten up than endure that.” Today Little Shenyang is a hero in his hometown, where he had a new house built for his parents and enjoys a fame he never dreamed possible. Look who’s laughing now.

中文翻译

小沈阳:中国最猥琐的人?

反串喜剧演员小沈阳之成功,标明“性幽默”越来越公开化。中国准备走向低俗?
小沈阳喜剧在中国越来越火,其中最不可思议的一位当红明星,就是“小沈阳”,一个喜欢反串的演员。这位29岁的喜剧演员出生在贫瘠的中国东北,女性化的着装(头上那色彩艳丽的蝴蝶结、女式衬衣、运动胸罩)以及粗鄙的插科打诨让他出了名。而他在全国性春晚舞台上的首次亮相,让他更火了。小沈阳参加了去年的央视春晚,这档节目已经成了中国人一年一度的节日大餐,一直占有着最高的收视率。尽管在晚会上他的幽默中已经剔除了性暗示,不过这个年轻的新面孔仍然穿着一条裙子——所谓的“苏格兰裙”。在他说了一句被认为很女性化的台词之后,另一位喜剧演员赵本山把他叫成“屁精”——对同性恋的蔑称。这引起了观众的一阵爆笑。(之后,小沈阳的导师,中国最出名的电视明星赵本山,否认了曾有任何关于同性恋的暗示。“我怎么知道同性恋们用什么词?我跟他们又没有来往。”他对新闻周刊说。)小沈阳受到了6亿观众的热捧,他的名字成了google的热门词汇,其搜索量曾一度超过了“毛泽东”与“耶稣”的搜索量之和。
小沈阳的爆红反映了中国社会的宽容程度已经发生了转变。政府对政治敏感话题的管制越来越严格,包括89年的事儿,包括FLG的事儿,包括一些高官落马的事儿。监管部门已经关闭了一些讨论有争议政治话题的博客(所谓“黑色”内容),收押了一些直言的网民,根据政府禁令,在某些词语上对google开刀,对传统媒体也加强了把控。然而同时,低俗笑话以及一些跟性有关的话题——中国人称之为“黄色内容”——却正在走向公开化,走向舞台,进入公众谈话领域。“很显然,‘黄色’幽默没问题,但是‘黑色’幽默就是不允许的了。”社会学家、中国同志文化领域的前沿专家李银河说。

不过需要确定的是,并不是所有的“黄色”内容都会被允许出现在大众面前。今年2月,中国有3000家网站和270家博客由于包含“色情低俗”内容遭到关停。广东网站站长黄奕中(音)由于在自己的网站上含有色情内容被判入狱13年。黄段子和黑色幽默如今成了最大的禁忌。比方说今年早些时候,当局就强行禁止使用“河蟹”一词讽刺时事,此外还有“草泥马”,也是带有性侮辱意味的脏话“×你妈”的谐音。“草泥马”的故事广受欢迎,并且因此出现了“草泥马”毛绒玩具,“草泥马”学术论文,和Youtube上的“草泥马”儿歌。

不过,当低俗的来源比较“健康”的时候,当局似乎就宽容了许多。实际上,小沈阳不仅仅是一个前卫的喜剧演员,更是一名天赋异禀的歌手。而他作为一名20多岁的年轻人,功底也十分扎实。个人上看,他谦虚、礼貌,使得人们很难想象到他会在舞台上大讲黄色笑话,连续喝下几圈啤酒,更难想象到他会浓妆艳抹,身着女装,戴着亮片发卡大喊“我是个男人!”在接受《新闻周刊》采访时,小沈阳否认自己那非同寻常的表演中包含了同性恋信息:“这只是一种让人发笑的表演形式,是为了和生活更加贴近。我是在表演我在老家村子里认识的一个小男孩。他的父母希望生一个女儿,所以他们就把他打扮成女孩的样子。这和同性恋没什么关系。”小沈阳否认了自己是同性恋的传言,他已经有了一个5岁的女儿。而他的妻子沈春阳也经常同他一起演出。

自从去年他如火箭般飞速蹿红,小沈阳开始与著名导演张艺谋(曾执导《大红灯笼高高挂》,《英雄》)合作拍摄电影,还在赵本山指导的一部电影中担任主角,拍了一部MTV,7月上旬和其他艺人一起去台湾表演脱口秀,门票即刻售罄。“他善于表演娘娘腔,也可以表演阳刚的男人,”38岁的英语教师刘舒安说,她观看过小沈阳的年初在北京的表演。另一个小沈阳的粉丝,20岁的孙晓敏,在那场表演中,从前排座位上高举着“小沈阳,我们爱你”。“他是一位天生的喜剧演员,嗓子也不错,”她说,“他不需要做出格的表演。”

小沈阳现象主要来源于中国的80后——89年以后成长起来的年轻人。不过,这也算是对不那么保守的年代的一种复古。西方人经常会误以为中国社会的性观念非常保守。这种“道貌岸然”的形象根源于国家对社会的管控。实际上,新中国成立以前的几个世纪里,反串表演和同性恋文化一直在中国很流行。在毛泽东时代,特别是1966—1976年,动荡的文革时期,艺术家和演员们被限制在“革命”风格和主题上,同性恋遭到破坏,结婚离婚,也要听从爱管闲事的居委会指导。

1976年毛泽东去世之后,对性方面的干预才开始放松。今天,高调的同性恋团体活动仍收到打击——比方说今年1月在北京被叫停的“中国彩虹先生”(Mr. Gay China)选美活动。在这种背景下,小沈阳对中国观念尚未扭转的展现,显得既前卫,又老套。“一个不男不女的角色能够登台表演,还能吸引到6亿观众,这在中国的确是一种突破。”二手玫瑰乐队的主唱梁龙评价说。二手玫瑰作为独立乐队十分受欢迎,其主唱梁龙和小沈阳一样,也经常在台上男扮女装。

事实上,小沈阳的喜剧形式—–所谓的二人转,或“二人戏”—有着深厚的传统根基和模式。不同于西方的独角喜剧,“二人戏”一部分是一男一女之间的拌嘴(通常是夫妇),一部分是流行音乐演唱,还有一部分是服饰穿着低级下流、肢体动作粗俗夸张的杰里·刘易斯式喜剧表演。(一种喜闻乐见的滑稽桥段是这样子的:一个男性小品演员在台上顶着一把椅子,边走边吹着啤酒瓶,声音喳喳作响。)追溯到至少300年前,这种喜剧形式起源于中国东北,那里巡演的粗鄙艺人会讲一些下流笑话,表演一些歌舞去娱乐寒冬休耕时月的农民。(小沈阳出生于辽宁北部,沈阳是那里的省会和也是他艺名的由来,他的真名叫沈鹤。)

这个地方的人被称为中国的“Archie Bunkers”,他们顽固,壮实,不开化,愚蠢。虽然小沈阳的中性赋予了他一个更现代的形象,这个地方的二人转仍然秉承了这种刻板印象。在最近的一次表演,他穿着皇家风范的的丝绸长袍,背着粉红色的Hello Kitty双肩包。不过,他最近的公开表演,倒是符合了西方的标准。 他的插科打诨更像20世纪50年代的《我爱露西》而非金·凯瑞或安迪·考夫曼的风格。在不久前的一次演出中,他宣称可以“立即辨别出一男一女是不是两口子。”怎么辨认呢? “如果女人撞在玻璃窗户上了,那男的立刻帮她揉揉伤,他们铁定不是夫妻。但是,要是那男的喊道 ‘你瞎了吗?’他们肯定是两口子”。

事实上,低级趣味在中国方兴未艾,但它仍然依赖于影射,讽喻,和双关语,这让演员否认他们是“庸俗”的——这是给他们贴的标签。“我不知道什么被定义为’庸俗’,但我知道观众喜欢我的表演,”小沈阳说。 “二人转用过去有些色情内容,但我的老师赵本山作了改良。”现在是“绿色二人转”,一个更健康的版本。

小沈阳将自己的成功大部分归于赵本山的支持。具有企业家精神的赵本山在中国东北创办了一家学校,用业界流行的方法训练演员。尽管成人笑话是当地未改革前喜剧的主题。但赵本山表示自己将对二人转进行“清理“,“以便让每个人都能欣赏二人转”。他还提到,现场演出可能会有一些笑话比电视演出时更加黄。比如,在沈阳公开表演时,一名喜剧演员捉弄领队,说他在和一名日本熟人旅行时肚子出问题了。“你知道,日本人非常先进,他们都不用手机了,他们伸出手就能打电话。第二天,领队出现了,然后在屁股上挂了一卷纸。日本人说‘这是什么?’领队答道‘我们中国人也相当先进。这是传真机’。”

可接受的与禁止的之间界限非常模糊。在赵本山所开学校的一场相对私人的演出中,一个男人假扮成女人,用假乳房向一名濒临死亡的中国士兵脸上喷牛奶。赵本山表示这种场景就不会允许在公共演出中出现,因为会显得品味差。

小沈阳和赵本山的受欢迎程度之所以如此之高,在于他们在清除政治敏感性内容上的把握——尽管明显有机会可以向中国的政客开炮。(讽刺性模仿是二人转的另一特点)小沈阳表示自己的表演“与政治毫不相干”,而且他将自己的模仿对象限定在那些歌星身上。

但小沈阳对于自己成为一个歌星显然并不太上心,出身贫寒的他高中毕业后就加入了剧团,当时在巡演途中曾经睡在火车站的长椅上。他的母亲是一位业余的二人转演员,常常带着她的小儿子在送葬时献唱,小沈阳那时就逐渐形成了如今征服广大粉丝的甜美、煽情的唱腔。上进的他面对台前同龄人和邻里的冷嘲热讽,为了克服怯场心里,进行了长期艰苦的训练。他说,“刚出道时,同事常常在演出时嘲笑我,喊着‘滚下台去’。那时真比打我一顿还难受”,今天的小沈阳在家乡绝对称得上英雄,那里他为父母建起了新房,而他赢得了连做梦都想不到的名声。看看,谁笑到了最后?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: