Every strategy of control has a tactic of resistance. While going through some photos this afternoon I was reminded of this fact by a photo I took of this little ingenious device that I saw in Nanjing last year. It is an “anti-seat belt device”—a buckle-shaped slug with a cute plastic bear head that inserts into the front seatbelt buckle to fool the car’s seatbelt warning signal. I’ve seen a few of these from time-to-time, but always forget to take a photo.
While I really can’t understand why anyone in their right mind wouldn’t put their seatbelt on the moment they get in a car (I mean you dad!), there is another part of me that is really impressed by this mystery object. First, it is a tactic of resistance—a simple object that subverts the automatic features of the automobile and ignores the state’s legal injunction “to wear a seatbelt.” Secondly, it is an act of resistance that is so pervasive and common in China that there is actually a market for this object. Someone bought the steel, fashioned the buckle and then made it cute.
I can’t believe I’ve never actually asked what the Chinese word for this is, so if someone reading this does, please let me know in the comments!