I already wrote about the 28 movies commissioned by the Chinese government to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the CCP, a date
that will live in infamy for all of us to cherish. Now, as the premiere approaches, we get to see just how far they will go to make sure Chinese citizens watch it, guaranteeing in advance it will be a blockbuster success without a single negative review in Mainland China.
This month China’s great masses are being mobilized by their leaders for an unusual purpose. Employees at state-owned companies and at all levels of government are joining students from grade school to universities as they leave their homes, head out into the heat and do their duty: ensure the financial success of the government’s latest propaganda film, “Beginning of the Great Revival.”
The movie, which opened on Wednesday on almost all of the country’s 6,200 screens, is part of a campaign to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party next Friday. It is also playing in 29 American theaters, including ones in New York and Los Angeles.
…Newspapers and television are barred from being critical of the movie, and caustic online reviews have been erased by censors. (Unfortunately for the filmmakers and the government, that edict does not cross borders; in a review in The New York Times, Andy Webster said the movie “demonstrates that mainstream Chinese cinema can be as guilty of self-indulgent overstatement as anything out of the West.)
How ironic can you possibly get? A film celebrating China’s liberation that the Chinese are essentially forced to see. A government effort that squelches critics’ freedom to write what they choose. An exercise in such blatant propaganda that most of the world blushes in embarrassment. A movie designed to snap the people back to their senses and force them to love their authoritarian government. A movie that defy common sense.
As the party moves ever further from its roots – the new film is co-sponsored by Cadilllac – it exploits them to bolster its relentless, Leninist grip on political power.
“This is an absurd era,” Professor He Bing of the China University of Politics and Law told graduates in a bold speech this month.
“They encourage you to sing revolutionary songs, but do not encourage you to make revolution; they encourage you to watch [the new movie] The Great Achievement of Founding The Party, but they do not encourage you to establish a party.“
Needless to say Beginning of the Great Revival deifies Mao, “portrayed in soft-focus lighting as a trim, dewy-eyed and idealistic young man prone to slow-motion frolicking with his beloved in the snow.” It sounds like your typical CCTV fare, protracted to ensure maximum mind numbness.
And what does the CCP stand for today? What about it should we celebrate? Despite some of the good it has brought to China since opening up, it nevertheless remains a giant squid, tentacles reaching across the nation to restrict all aspects of life in the land it liberated, silencing opposing voices and existing solely for its own perpetuation. Celebrate away, while people who know real freedom snicker. The CCP has outdone itself this time, and once again has made a laughingstock of itself.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.