Media and Advertising

Current Affairs for kids

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Is there something in the water at the Beijing Youth Daily headquarters? Here's George Bush as an anti-terrorism superhero who, along with the King of Terrorists and a Henan version of Condoleezza Rice, appears in Current Affairs, a new monthly newsmagazine for kids.

The magazine's Chinese title, 《时事魔镜》, reads "Current Affairs Magic Mirror"; magic is apparently necessary to turn international affairs into something of interest to kids. An advertisement in the Legal Mirror, another BYD property, provides a formula for the magazine's content:

Dull current events × Magic = Beautiful fairy tales
Obscure international situations × Magic = Interesting cartoons
Unfamiliar world figures × Magic = Wildly interesting animated images
Wholly enigmatic changes × Magic = Virtual online literature
In the larger image linked to the Bush superhero, the identities of the caricatures are as follows, clockwise from bottom left: Bush, with "anti-terrorism" written on his chest; a Henan version of Condoleezza Rice; a cartoon version of the King of Terrorists; a "princess in real life"; a helpless Saddam; Iraqi Prime Minister al-Jaafari, extremely pleased with himself (the cartoon garbles his name); and someone who's very frustrated. The MC in the middle remains unidentified.

A column with the same title used to run twice a month in Beijing Children's Weekly, a newspaper published by the Beijing Youth Daily. Appearing opposite the "Young Pioneers" page, it offered a look at international affairs geared toward schoolchildren - short, punchy articles accompanied by colorful drawings. The promos for the new format, however, have been nothing short of bizarre. Take "The King of Terrorists' Four Ways to Die" for example:

Maskhadov--an unfamiliar name, perhaps? In Russia, whoever hears this name will be too afraid to sleep! This man is a ferocious terrorist. He engineered the shocking hostage crises at a Moscow theater and at the Beslan school, in which hundreds of innocent citizens lost their lives during the terror. Not long ago, this King of Terror was killed. But how was he killed? There are in fact four separate tales.
The ad goes on to promise cartoon drawings of the four possible ways Maskhadov died.

Similar irreverence is levelled at the Terri Schiavo case ("Who Decides Who Goes to Heaven?"), the Yushchenko poisoning case ("Open Current Affairs and see the fun! Let Yushchenko tell you himself - let him sing for you!"), and the resignation of the president of Kyrgyzstan ("Of the 36 strategies, the best is running away"). A tagline in the Mirror ad reads, "Let your child start to appreciate world affairs from an early age." Cynicism must be a bonus.

This bastard child of the Xinhua News Agency and Mad Magazine certainly has the potential to fail utterly while trying to be too hip to today's youth, but if it succeeds, it just might be brilliant.

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