When bad news related to children comes out — especially stories of child abuse happening in private kindergartens where young parents work hard to make monthly tuition payments of up to 5,500 RMB ($830) — people’s anger reaches a fever pitch. Over the last two days, the Chinese internet has gone wild with thousands of burning reposts and comments of news relating to the latest such scandal, in which several parents have accused the staff of a Beijing branch of private kindergarten RYB Education of drugging and sexually abusing children as young as three and a half years old.
“I want to burn it down,” said one victim’s father while staring at the school, part of an education company that was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in September. In another video, which has more than 76,000 reposts and 56,000 comments on Weibo as of this writing, another parent says that children from the school were given white pills, and that dozens of students were found with needle marks on their bodies.
While netizens watch videos of these heartbroken parents talking about the evil things their children and other kids have experienced, a new movie hits Chinese theaters today: Angels Wear White (嘉年华), the first Chinese film in decades directly addressing the issue of child abuse.
Ironically, as articles on the recent RYB Education scandal are removed from the internet, Angels Wear White, which passed China’s censorship process, will show its audiences the hell that many children have been trapped in, and evidently continue to be. Several prominent Chinese movie stars and other celebrities have helped to promote the film online, due to the fact that it covers a rarely mentioned topic, and because it has received relatively poor distribution for its theatrical release.
One article promoting the film, posted on the WeChat account Sir Film (Sir电影), has been viewed more than 100,000 times (the maximum view count that WeChat displays publicly) and has received more than 4,000 likes.
Poster for Vivian Qu’s 2017 film Angels Wear White (the Chinese name, 嘉年华, translates to “carnival”)
Rappers are typically quick to form a cultural response to current events — “They are never absent,” says a post by WeChat account Xiaoqing Shushu (link in Chinese). The recent events at RYB are no exception. Kungfu-Pen (小胖) from longstanding Changsha rap crew C-Block released a track today referencing the RYB incident called “Beat Uncles (打叔叔)”, and another rapper called HRBELIAL (贝利) responded this morning with a track called “Tricolor (三原色)” (“RYB” in the school’s name stands for Red, Yellow Blue).
Both tracks have been removed from both Weibo and the NetEase Music streaming service, but they’re still up and streaming on this WeChat post as of this writing (link in Chinese). Here are some select quotes from each:
廉价的台词 被掩盖的事实 很难想象国旗下 园长的致词 无毒不丈夫 但虎毒不食子 作为再生父母的你却这样无耻
Cheap lines, covered facts. Hard to imagine, the principal’s speech under the national flag. A man must be ruthless, but even a ruthless tiger will never eat his son. How can you be so shameless as the kids’ second parents?
— “Beat Uncles” by Kungfu-Pen
三原色/白色药片/针管注射/三种颜色/悄然改变孩童肤色 … 你敢说望远镜可以伸到伸到到谁的家/正义千军万马幼儿园长被正法/你敢说望远镜可以伸到伸到到谁的家/正义千军万马拔下你二十八颗牙
Tricolor, white pills, injections. Three colors are changing kids’ skin color… You dare to say a telescope can reach anyone’s home, the army of justice will execute the principal. You dare to say a telescope can reach anyone’s home, the army of justice will pull out your 28 teeth.
— “Tricolor” by HRBELIA
(Note: According to one report, a teacher at the school threatened a student by saying, “I can hear whatever you say and see whatever you do because I have a very, very, very long telescope that can reach your home.”)
Along with more news of protests in front of other kindergartens showing up on Weibo, people have started to expand the scope of how to teach kids about protecting themselves, and to discuss what can be changed in laws pertaining to the subject.
As for RYB itself, their official statement, posted to Weibo at 8am this morning, is that some of the allegations are “slander.” We hope this terrible issue can be exposed and that the truth can find its way online — and that cultural forces like music and film can help the larger conversation evolve.