Disclaimer: Add allegedly to that title. Obviously I can’t get information from China, so it’s not like this is a completely unbiased analysis of the situation, but from all I’ve read (and I cross referenced as much as possible, I promise), this seems like the truth.
The biggest buzz right now is the upcoming Harry Potter movie… There was a Larry King special on CNN tonight (check it out if you haven’t… it was so adorable and nostalgic!), a weekend movie marathon on ABC Family, the live London premiere on YouTube, Facebook statuses and profile pictures galore – all leading up to the 8th movie releasing in the U.S. on this Thursday. I couldn’t be more psyched, and I’m sure there are people all around the globe feeling the same excitement that I feel – all except one big chunk of land in Asia: China.
According to CNN, China hasn’t released any foreign films in the country for about a month, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to lighten up any time soon.
Well, the government wants to make sure everyone watches one movie in particular, without any distractions. Fewer movies in theaters means fewer options means a greater likelihood that everyone watches “The Beginning of the Great Revival.”
The film’s release marks the 90th anniversary of the creation of the Chinese communist party, and it tells the story of the birth and rise of the party.
Basically, it’s a historical film to commemorate a national event, and that’s sounds all fine and great to me, except that they’re practically shoving it down the citizens’ throats.
The National in the United Arab Emirates had an article about Chinese movies, and foreign correspondent Daniel Bardsley wrote:
“[The films] are primarily for propaganda or entertainment,” says Dr Lo Wailuk, an associate professor at the Academy of Film at Hong Kong Baptist University. “It’s only recently that Chinese films have developed this entertainment dimension.” [The National]
To say that China is using this movie to promote political means is an understatement. School children are required to see the movie, and they’re even offering free movie passes to entire companies to ensure that everyone sees it. They were even able to pull in the entertainment industry by employing over 100 celebrities to play roles in the movie.
“Among them Mao Tse-Tung or Chairman Mao, who’s portrayed not just a revolutionary, but also as a romantic. He’s played by a young Chinese heartthrob. And while that might lure in female audiences, the real message isn’t about love, but politics,” wrote Fareed Zakaria, CNN.
This is full on propaganda, and this isn’t the first or last time. A few years ago, the Chinese government helped sponsor “The Founding of a Republic,” a movie whose plot mimics its title, with Mao Zedong as the film’s hero.
That was 2009. I expect another such movie in 2013. You know… to keep the trend going.
Overall, the situation worries me because I think that censorship, even of stupid, entertainment movies, leads to ignorance.
On a grander scale: I don’t understand how a nation so intertwined in the global economy can just isolate itself completely in some matters. As unimportant at the movie industry is to world peace or whatever, it’s still a big part of society, and I can’t help but think that this ban is symbolic of other isolationist policies or thoughts in China, which would be REALLY bad for the rest of us in the long term.
But in the short term, I’m mostly just sad for all the little Chinese kids missing out on HP history. Poor things…
Want more? Check out the full video from CNN. As always, Zakaria knows what he’s talking about. Oh, and stick it out ’til the end. It’s at least chuckle-worthy: