ⓘ Democracy Manifest

Democracy Manifest

ⓘ Democracy Manifest

Democracy Manifest is a 1990 Australian news segment video by reporter Chris Reason. It is "one of Australias most viral videos", according to Sportsbet. The Guardian called it "perhaps the pre-eminent Australian meme of the past 10 years". YouTube has several postings of the video, and they "have more than one million views each".

It features a man who is being arrested at a Fortitude Valley Chinese restaurant for the purported crime of "dine and dash". Wrestled into a police car, he speaks with the commanding voice of a trained stage actor. As the police fumble, he exclaims "This is democracy manifest", "Get your hand off my penis!" and "I see you know your judo well".

The video was made in 1990, but it was not uploaded to the Internet until 2009. A mystery developed about who the man was, with theories centring on Hungarian chess player Paul Charles Dozsa known for his dine and dash exploits. In 2020, an aging Australian man, later identified as Cecil George Edwards, appeared in a punk rock video that revealed his true identity as the man in the 1990 now-viral video. The revelation led to an interview with Sportsbet and a feature in the Sydney Morning Herald.


1. Description

The video shows an unnamed man being escorted by police out of a Chinese restaurant into a waiting police car. He is clearly agitated by this situation, and when told he is being placed under arrest he boisterously exclaims in a stentorian voice, "I am under what?" As police wrestle him into a headlock and try to force him into the car, the man booms in the controlled voice of a classic stage actor, "Gentlemen, this is democracy manifest". As the scuffle escalates, he shouts, "Get your hand off my penis!" and then incredulously asks, "What is the charge? Eating a meal? A succulent Chinese meal?" As the police struggle to contain the man, he compliments them on the headlock, "Ah, yes. I see that you know your Judo well." He is then man-handled into the car, feet-first, while asking someone inside the vehicle, "And you, sir, are you waiting to receive my limp penis?" By this point, members of the police can be heard to chuckle in the background.


2. History

The video was taped by then-freshman reporter Chris Reason at Seven News. As it turned out, the police arrested the wrong man in a case of mistaken identity; they thought he was "an international criminal." They actually arrested Cecil George Edwards, a petty criminal with a flair for acting and multiple aliases, who was released later that day to the embarrassment of the police. The clip remained obscure until it was uploaded to the Internet in January 2009, when it became an immediate viral video.

Speculation about the mans identity centred on Paul Charles Dozsa, a Hungarian chess player and notorious dine and dasher, but there were also serious doubts about this theory. It was questioned as to why the arrest was filmed from so many angles, why is was filmed at all and why the allegedly-Hungarian man doesnt sound Hungarian. Friends, family and acquaintances of Dozsa also stated that the man in the video was not Dozsa. Other theories included that the man was politician John Bartlett, the video was a skit from a television show, or that the man was a real dine and dasher named Gregory John Ziegler.

The mystery of the mans identity continued until 2020, when Australian punk band The Chats published a music video titled "Dine N Dash" that re-created the viral video with an older man acting the part of the arrestee. The actor then identified himself in an interview with Sydney Morning Herald as Cecil George Edwards, now going by the name of "Jack K". Asked why he made such a show during the arrest, he said he wanted to appear crazy so he might be placed into an asylum where it would be easier to escape. It was also revealed he had an artistic career making paintings, including some of the arrest.

In 2020, "Jack K" was interviewed by Sportsbet in a video titled "Democracy Manifest Guy Speaks". The interview includes Seven News archival footage of the event that was broadcast to the public in 1990. In this footage Reason reports, "When Cecil George Edwards was arrested in a town mall last Friday, the Valley police thought theyd caught Queenslands most wanted," as Edwards is led out of the restaurant. The mans identity as Cecil George Edwards, and Reasons reportage, is not included in the more commonly seen viral video uploaded to the Internet in 2009, because the viral version is raw video footage without Reasons voice-over.


3. Influences

The video has become a trendy Australian meme. For example, when Julian Assange was manhandled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, "just about every man, woman, non-binary folk and all their respective dogs made the same dang joke".

It has been the subject of an orchestral work composed by Michael Tan and conducted by Sam Weller that was performed at the Sydney Opera House by Ensemble Apex.

Slipstream Brewing Company, a microbrewer in Yeerongpilly, Queensland, makes a beer named Succulent Chinese Meal.

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