Trends and Buzz
Posted by Joel Martinsen on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 at 11:36 AM
Alongside the movement for a "civilized" Internet, the anti-Super Girls campaign seems to be picking up steam as well. China Times published an interview yesterday with Liu Zhongde, one of the most outspoken critics of the Super Girls phenomenon.
Liu Zhongde is a CPPCC delegate and director of the Science, Education, Culture, Health, and Sport Commission of the CPPCC. He talked to China Times about the great silent majority of people who agree with him that the Super Girls phenomenon is a threat China's art and culture and a source of harm to its young people. In some of the strongest statements against the program to date, Liu argues that "Super Girls is certainly the choice of the market, but we can't have working people reveling all day in low culture."
Accompanying the Liu Zhongde interview is an editorial that sums up the problem in this way: "Culture truly needs to hold fast, especially at times when a powerful culture invades. Blindly indulging in the market's decision will only lead to the soul of a people getting lost." We're not quite back at 1983-level "Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign" rhetoric, but the elements are all there: cultural invasion, suspicion of market forces, spiritual health, preservation of national culture, and allegations of popular entertainment spreading corruption among the youth, all facing off against a new concept of socialist morality.
China Times: Many people think that you are "China's loudest voice criticising Super Girls." Perhaps there are many people who are angry at the Super Girls program but don't dare speak out. What are your views on this phenomenon?
CT: Super Girls started to get hot last year. When did you first start to be aware of it?
But cultural products have another side, distinct from material goods. So the market cannot completely decide the success and failure of cultural products. Some organizations have a system where the lowest are cut, which sounds like a good idea, but upon careful consideration it doesn't stand up to examination.
Cultural products cannot rely entirely on the market's choices and selections. What the market chooses are not necessarily good things. Super Girls is certainly the choice of the market, but we can't have working people reveling all day in low culture. We need to let the public continually interact with high art, to elevate their aesthetic sensibility. This is the responsibility of cultural workers.
CT: Many people find watching Super Girls to be very enjoyable. What's your take?
CT: What lies hidden behind the Super Girls phenomenon?
CT: What specific views and actions do you have concerning Super Girls?
CT: Will a program like Super Girls be canceled in the future?
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The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.