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Kuso is the term used in East Asia for the internet culture that generally includes all types of camp and parody. In Japanese, kuso (糞,くそ) means "crap" or "shit" and "bullshit", and is often uttered as an interjection. It is also used to describe outrageous matters and objects of poor quality. This definition of kuso was brought into Taiwan around 2000 by young people who frequently visited Japanese websites and quickly became an internet phenomenon, spreading to Taiwan and Hong Kong and subsequently to the rest of China.
In Chinese kuso is called "e'gao" (S: 恶搞, T: 惡搞, P: ègǎo), with the first character meaning "evil" or "gross" and the second meaning "to make fun of [someone/something]." In 2007 the word was so new that it was not listed in Chinese dictionaries.[needs update] According to Christopher Rea, "E’gao, the main buzzword associated with online Chinese parody, literally means “evil doings” or “malicious manipulation”"; he notes that e'gao's "semantic associations [to kuso] can be misleading, however, since e’gao is not fundamentally scatological—or even, as the Chinese term might suggest, malicious. In its broad usage, it may be applied to parody of any stripe, from fan tribute-mimicry to withering mockery. In a more restricted sense, it refers the practice of digitally manipulating mass culture products to comic effect and circulating them via the internet. The term e’gao may thus be interpreted in multiple senses, as it denotes variously a genre, a mode, a practice, an ethos and a culture."
The root of Taiwanese "kuso" was kuso-ge from Japan. The word kusoge is a clipped compound of kuso and gēmu (ゲーム, game), which means, quite literally, "crappy (video) games." The introduction of such a category originally was to teach gamers how to appreciate and enjoy a game of poor quality—such as appreciating the games' outrageous flaws instead of becoming frustrated by them. This philosophy soon spread to Taiwan, where people would share the games and often satirical comments on BBSes. Games generally branded as kuso in Taiwan include Hong Kong 97 and the Death Crimson series.
Because kuso-ges were often unintentionally funny, soon the definition of kuso in Taiwan shifted to "anything hilarious," and people started to brand anything outrageous and funny as kuso. Parodies, such as the Chinese robot Xianxingzhe ridiculed by a Japanese website, were marked as kuso. Mo lei tau films by Stephen Chow are often said to be kuso as well. The Cultural Revolution is often a subject of parody too, with songs such as I Love Beijing Tiananmen spread around the internet for laughs.
Some, however, limit the definition of kuso to "humour limited to those about Hong Kong comics or Japanese anime, manga, and games." Kuso by such definitions are primarily doujin or fanfiction. Fictional crossovers are common media for kuso, such as redrawing certain bishōjo anime in the style of Fist of the North Star, or blending elements of two different items together. (For example, in Densha de D, both Initial D and Densha de Go! are parodied, as Takumi races trains and drifts his railcar across multiple railway tracks.)
- Meng, Bingchun. "From Steamed Bun to Grass Mud Horse: E Gao as alternative political discourse on the Chinese Internet." Global Media and Communication. April 2011. Vol. 7. No. 1. Pages 33–51. DOI 10.1177/1742766510397938.
- Christopher Rea, “Spoofing (e’gao) Culture on the Chinese Internet.” In Humour in Chinese Life and Culture: Resistance and Control in Modern Times. Jessica Milner Davis and Jocelyn Chey, eds. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2013, p. 151.
- Wu, Jiao. "E'gao: Art criticism or evil?" China Daily. January 22, 2007. Retrieved on January 25, 2012.
- Christopher Rea, “Spoofing (e’gao) Culture on the Chinese Internet.”In Humour in Chinese Life and Culture: Resistance and Control in Modern Times. Jessica Milner Davis and Jocelyn Chey, eds. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2013, p. 151.
- Meng 37.
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