1. Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei released a heavy metal song called “Idiot BoYi.”
BoYi was a Chinese nobleman who starved himself to death for the Shang Dynasty. His name is now synonymous with gullible shill of the state, or useless pacifist.
He simplified the English title to “Dumbass.”
2. The music video depicts his two months in isolated detention, after he tweeted his support for Arab Spring-inspired protests in China in 2011.
Ai was remarkably silent about his prison experience after his release. When The Daily Beast spoke to him a year later, he said he was so anxiously bored in isolation that he wished someone would beat him. “At least that’s human contact … You should commit suicide before you have to go through this.”
3. He said his music debut was inspired by a bored prison guard asking him if he could sing a song.
4. “[The song] doesn’t sound very good, because I don’t have any real skill,” he told Reuters.
5. Ai also told WSJ China that he’s not afraid of people calling the lyrics immature. “I’m an immature man,” he said.
6. He recreated his prison cell for his video, dressing in drag, dancing with young women, showering as guards watch.
7. Ai Weiwei says this song’s for the thousands still detained in China and receiving very little media attention.
The documentary writer Zhou Qing (a friend of Ai’s) once said that what protects Ai Weiwei is his international renown, and his late father’s reputation as a Communist poet. Otherwise, he “would’ve been beaten to death in Sichuan.”