The Chinese media does have a sense of humour after all, except that it doesn’t know it. A spoof about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un being the sexiest man alive ended up recently as a real news item in the Chinese Communist Party’s official mouthpiece People’s Daily. Not only did the paper changed the parody into straight news, it carried 55 photos of the leader and carried quotes from the American spoof website The Onion, like “With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-born heart-throb is every woman’s dream come true.” However, this is not the only funny bit. The Onion updated the original piece with a link to the People’s Daily and wrote “exemplary reportage, comrades.” Talk about rubbing it in.
Embarrassing though this is in the extreme for the Chinese, relations between North Korea and the Dragon will now go into the stratosphere. The North Koreans are masters of hyperbole. When the present dictator’s father King Jong Il was alive, there were several accounts of how a star hovered over the home he was born in and how at the tender age of three or so, he was able to solve the country’s agricultural crisis. So, the People’s Daily reproduction of The Onion spoof as serious news will be music to the ears of North Koreans. We in India, however, are made of sterner stuff. There is nothing our media likes so much as to tear our leaders to shreds, spoof or otherwise. The only time we usually let up is when someone dies. So we hurled insults at Bal Thackeray when he was alive for his less than democratic ways but in death he suddenly became a fount of pithy witticisms and humour, a cartoonist par excellence and a man of culture and letters.
But this gives us an idea. We could perfect the art of misleading the public by perhaps creating our own spoofs. Maybe we could put out stories that Arvind Kejriwal has merged his party with the Congress, that Mayawati has joined the SP, that Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa is starring in a film scripted by the DMK’s M Karunanidhi. Of course, this could land us in the clink but anything for freedom of expression.