Rolling eyes, when done well, merit applause and analysis. Recently, many witnessed an infamous eye-roll in Chinese parliament. This was the most popular eye roll that day, even upstaging a royal roll by an English prince shared with his American-becoming-English-but-remaining-American-possibly fiancée during an amusing, maladapted performance.

This spectacular eye roll comes from Chinese reporter Xiangyi, revealing contempt for a fellow reporter’s ingratiating question for the high officials of the government and its media. It was a nice, blunt move, something that was repeated across social media. Though the general public seems to be playing with the incident, stretching the satire into a reflection of current political affairs, there were grand efforts to censor this reporter and any media mention of her name.

This impatient censorship comes as no surprise, especially next to the recent approval of the current Chinese president’s unlimited reign. Some may not contradict that stance, but may become apathetic via drawn-out subjugation. Others share the sentiments fueling the eye roll, and do what is left available for them to do: protest.  Protest is not always through obvious march or occupation, but through more commonplace acts. These include the copycat videos posted by younger Chinese generations, showing their discontent with a repressive political regime. The ‘western’ media’s repeat coverage of the incident shows their unease with overt oppression, as they grapple with their own tyrannical forces.

Sometimes rolling one’s eyes is the sole, suitable response to such forces.  An eye roll is theorized as a less risky rebuke against these threats (compared to physical acts of aggression).  It is thought to have originated in women who were expected to avoid physical danger so that they survive and rear offspring. The eye roll is an already muted survival strategy, helping to restore a little balance in a lopsided power struggle. Censoring such benign behaviour, then, mutates these bits of balance into unsustainable, autocratic anguish.

Guess that’s the point, but reiteration of obvious facts is a form of protest too.


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