What is the Chinese grass-mud horse prank?

The real grass-mud horse
is perplexed by all the attention.
The grass-mud horse is a prank against the Chinese government’s attempts at censoring the Internet. The Chinese characters for the phrase grass-mud horse are benign, but the pronunciation sounds like a profane curse in Mandarin Chinese.

The prank is an old variant on the “But we're innocent, what do you mean?” behavior that’s been used forever to get past censors and bullying authorities of all types.

The cute song by children in the video below has other examples of pranksters tweaking official censorship. The video is supposedly a song about the struggle of grass-mud horses to eliminate river crabs.
There is a herd of Grass Mud Horses
In the wild and beautiful Ma Le Desert
They are lively and intelligent
They are fun-loving and nimble
They live freely in the Ma Le Desert
They are courageous, tenacious, and overcome the difficult environment

Oh lying down Grass Mud Horse
Oh running wild Grass Mud Horse
They defeated river crabs in order to protect their grass land
River crabs forever disappeared from Ma Le Desert
But it contains hidden profane and political messages:
  • Grass-mud horse (“F*ck your mother”)
  • The horses live in the “Ma Le Desert” (“your mother’s c*nt”)
  • They defeat “river crabs” (“harmony,” referring to a harmonious society, and a synonym for censorship)
  • To protect their “grassland” (“free speech”)

If you don't like dirty curses spelled out for you during a cloyingly sweet Mandarin Chinese song, don't watch the video.




There are even plush grass-mud horse doll toys.
What could be more innocent?
A Dirty Pun Tweaks China’s Online Censors, The New York Times>>
Grass Mud Horse, Wikipedia>>
Hoax dictionary entries about legendary obscene beasts, Danwei>>
Franco-Croatian Squid in pepper sauce, Language Log>>
Music Video: The Song of the Grass Mud Horse, China Digital Times>>

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