Trends and Buzz
Posted by Joel Martinsen on Thursday, April 13, 2006 at 12:43 AM
Last week Beijing TV rolled out a snazzily-produced song-and-dance video based around Hu Jintao's latest cultural campaign, the "Eight Honors and Eight Disgraces." You can watch the video streamed from Sohu's site (media link), or download audio versions sung by kids', mixed adults', or women's choirs from the Sohu Socialist Values homepage linked below.
"Follow science" scene from the 8 Honors MTV.
As a tool to teach listeners about socialist values, the song doesn't work too well - it just isn't that catchy, and it sounds like tons of other patriotic tunes. Fortunately, there's another song, "Everyone Should Know the Eight Honors and Eight Disgraces," sung by a PLA trio that reworks the ideas into more singable lyrics, asking "What is honor? What is disgrace?" against martial percussion.
Even better are a couple of children's chants that local schools are apparently using to enlighten their pupils on what it means to be a good citizen. There's a clapping song that goes something like this:
And so forth. Anyone is welcome to translate the rest.
The other widespread kids' song recasts the eight pairs into kid's song that's more readily singable than Hu's original formulation. But that's not all - the New Socialist Values campaign is itself tied tied to songs. Neighborhood committees are writing and singing their own compositions, schoolchildren are composing rhymes, and the city of Beijing recently issued 550,000 free copies of a new book of kids' songs to the city's schools. Apart from the Eight Honors material, the books also have musical settings of the "Ten Civilized Actions for Middle and Primary Schoolchildren."
Don't spend public funds on private vacations.
The reactions of those carrying different documetation has been, well, mixed. A People's Daily Online report about the attitudes of long-term foreign residents toward the campaign leads off with the adjectives "'interesting', 'necessary' and 'thought provoking'" - sentiments that can be taken in several different ways. Criticisms when the eight pairs of slogans first came out that the campaign implied the country's citizens were children seem redundant now. Playing off the news that Honor and Disgrace will play a role in cadre examinations, Danwei contributor Brendan O'Kane sees them as a set of ethical "hot or not?" choices for cadres in an off-site article.
In any event, any campaign that is able to produce this scene at a Zhengzhou train station ticket office has to have something going for it.
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