China’s Cell Block Tango: the revenge tale music video putting violence against women in the spotlight

  • Adaptation of hit from American musical Chicago prompts outpouring online before being taken down
PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 November, 2018, 10:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2018, 6:36am

“Hutong”, “Saxophone”, “Son of a bitch”, “Didi”, “Fourteenth Floor” and “Your Daughter’s Sleeping”.

So goes the start of a hit contemporary Chinese take on Cell Block Tango from the musical Chicago, a revenge tale that has racked up more than 50 million views since going online on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service on Wednesday, reigniting discussion over violence against women.

In the video, five women characters stare in the camera and tell their tale of how they each killed a man and why the men “deserved” it. Another tells how she was framed by her drug-using boyfriend.

One man suffocated his daughter so her corpse could be sold as the “ghost wife” to a dead man, another beat his wife with a saxophone and another stalked his ex-girlfriend and abused her.

“Scumbags should be killed, killed, killed, killed, killed,” the characters sing in different dialects from around the country.

The creator of the flashy video goes by the pseudonym “Tuyouqin” and claims in her online bio to have graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music and to work in music production.

The response online was swift, with internet users praising the video’s creator for putting a local spin on the song.

The video also prompted a broad debate online about women’s rights and many to recount personal incidents of domestic violence, sexism and other injustices.

Just last week a woman driver was accused online of responsibility for a deadly bus crash that was later officially linked to another cause.

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One commenter responded to the Cell Block Tango video by compiling screenshots of news reports where women were abused or killed by their husbands, including a 26-year-old who was cut seven times in the face by her husband for demanding a divorce, a woman whose husband broke 14 of her ribs when he beat her up, and a woman who was killed by her husband in front of her six-year-old daughter.

“Reality is far more surprising than stories,” another commenter said.

But others said the adaptation encouraged mob violence and the idea that “all men should all be damned”, with one labelling it a radical and shallow work made to appease feminists on Weibo.

However, not long after it went up, it was taken down for unspecified reasons.

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“It is awkward that when our creators include real social issues, they suffer similar fate [as this song], especially when discussing some sensitive issues,” one commentator wrote on Weibo about the video being blocked. “When darkness is not exposed, it will grow even more unscrupulous.”