One World, Whose Dream?

On Danwei, Ann Condi writes about her experience as an invited foreign guest on a program celebrating the Olympics:

All this seemed so strange. Who was the audience here? It certainly wasn’t the “audience” of ordinary Beijingers in their color-coordinated shirts, since they were coached and rehearsed just as the performers were. This elaborately staged show was really for the benefit of just this handful of leaders. In China’s dynastic past, we know there were many extravagant performances in the imperial palace involving hundreds of singers and dancers performing energetically for an audience consisting of only the emperor and a few concubines. Was this really that much different?

What about the TV audience? Note that the show had been designed by producers and directors who are directly answerable to the State apparatus – which is essentially controlled by the very leaders in attendance that night. The artistic talents behind the show were creating their product, consciously or unconsciously, with this small number of leaders in mind. In essence, a small coterie of Party officials had ordered the show to be made, checked its content, ordered changes, tweaked it according to their tastes and agendas, and approved it for final broadcast. If you want to know why so much of Chinese TV is so vacuous, consider: An audience of a billion people were being treated to a variety show that basically reflected the esthetics and mindset of a tiny group of powerful oligarchs. Whether anyone really liked the finished product might be considered just an afterthought.

Read also: The “Invisible” Control Mechanism in Chinese Media by Ann Condi.

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