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 frequent Japanese websites and quickly became an internet phenomenon, spreading to Hong Kong and subsequently to China. In Chinese it 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.
The root of Taiwanese "kuso" was kuso-ge from Japan. The word kusoge is a portmanteau 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 their (oft-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.)
Original content plays a big part in kuso, with various webmasters encouraging people to "take part in creating Taiwan's kuso miracle."[this quote needs a citation] One famous example, Iron Fist Invincible Sun Yat-sen, places Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-Shek, Mao Zedong, and other influential historical figures of the time as martial artists in a wuxia setting.
The kuso culture runs deep in Taiwan, as some[who?] call it a remedy from stressful times. Many[which?] forums in Taiwan have discussion boards dedicated to the making and sharing of kuso. People[who?] engaging in a kuso conversation on the internet would refer specifically to various items of kuso, and often mimicking how characters in Hong Kong comics would talk. Flash mobs in Taiwan are often generated by this culture.[verification needed]
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- 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.
- Wu, Jiao. "E'gao: Art criticism or evil?" China Daily. January 22, 2007. Retrieved on January 25, 2012.
- Meng 37.
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