Audio/Visual Work: Society of Classical Poets
Voice-Over: Evan Mantyk
Photo: Hans Permana, “Meal time!” (used under creative Commons License CC BY-NC 2.0)
Olympic Mascot image: Used under Fair Use provisions of U.S. Law (Title 17 U.S. Code § 107 – Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use), for the purposes of social criticism and comment
Music: (1) Xiaochun Qi, “The Vow”; (2) Victoria, from Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A-major (KV331) — used with permission


Sinister Symbols

by James A. Tweedie

O, how I wish I could write about pandas,
Cute, bamboo-shoot-eating, black and white pandas.
Furry and cuddly like overgrown teddy bears,
Roly and poly in singles or mating pairs.

Pawns in the game of First World foreign policy,
Used to help leverage trade and diplomacy.
Putting a happy face on China’s image, while
Hiding a genocide under a panda’s smile.

Pandas are peaceful and sweet beyond question;
Masking Red China’s external aggression,
Blatant internal domestic oppression—
Pandas provide an effective digression.

Pictures of pandas displayed with a flair.
Even in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square,
Hong Kong has pandas on loan to its zoo,
Visit the Spratleys, no doubt they’re there, too.

Sadly, if pandas were Uyghurs, Tibetans,
Falun Gong, Muslims, or practicing Christians;
Rather than hailed as a mark of distinction,
Pandas would find themselves marked for extinction.

Pandas when seen as a PRC scheme
Turn out to be not as cute as they seem.
Sinister symbols of China’s delusion;
Used to project a slick PR illusion.



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6 Responses

  1. Peter Hartley

    Congrats to James and Evan on this production. Hiding a genocide under a panda’s smile is brilliant!!!

  2. Margaret Coats

    Excellent use of both words and video background to provide a perceptive reading of a widely-used image and its much deeper social meaning.

  3. Tamara Beryl Latham

    James and Evan. A great metaphorical collaboration that emphasizes injustice through video and the spoken word. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


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