Experiments with Truth: Analysis

Mao’s anti-pollution face mask

With air readings of “hazardous” or “very unhealthy” seemingly the new normal, antipollution face masks are becoming a common sight on the streets of China. Even Mao Zedong has donned one. At least his image has, in doctored photos circulating online to widespread amusement (Mao, of course, died in 1976.)

I first spotted the joke when my 10-year-old came home from his state school on Monday with a forwarded image from his classmates on the We Chat app they all use. It showed Mao’s giant portrait above the Gate of Heavenly Peace, just north of his embalmed body in the Mao Mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, doctored to show a large bluish-white mask over the lower half of his face. His eyes were squeezed shut and his normally immaculately combed-back hair was flapping in the breeze. (By Tuesday noon, the image was apparently being censored so it’s unclear how long the joke will survive on the blogosphere, but it has already spread widely. Here are some examples from Sina Weibo, a microblogging platform, if the link still works.)

More Follow External Link to Didi Kirsten Tatlow, International Herald Tribune