Quote of the Day: “If We Don’t Face Our History Squarely, How Can We Hope to Have a Future?”

Chinese social media has been awash with interest in Netflix’s new series “3 Body Problem,” an adaptation based on the Hugo Award-winning novel by Chinese author Liu Cixin. On the day of its release, there was a huge spike in online piracy of the Netflix series in China. (Neither Netflix nor any of its shows are officially available in China.) Hashtags associated with the show have racked up 2.3 billion views on Weibo, and Chinese-language websites such as Douban and Zhihu have attracted tens of thousands of user reviews.

Reviews have been decidedly mixed, with some Chinese viewers praising the production values and special effects of the Netflix series, while others complained that the show’s portrayal of China was skewed by the recasting of originally Chinese heroes as foreign characters, and by the prominent inclusion of scenes set during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. (These scenes were downplayed in the novel, and only briefly alluded to in the domestically produced series adaptation by Tencent.) But the depiction of the Cultural Revolution was praised by other Chinese viewers, with one commenting, “The biggest advantage Netflix’s version of Three-Body Problem has over the domestic version is no censorship, no taboos.” 

Today’s quote of the day comes from Weibo user 上城太子 (Shàngchéng Tàizǐ, “Prince Shangcheng”), who points out that the Chinese people should already be well aware of the events of the Cultural Revolution, and that quibbling over their inclusion in a Netflix series is, in itself, a form of historical bias:

Do we really require the services of foreigners to ferret out the truth about that ridiculous, frenzied, and turbulent era? That era was an enormous scar, an absurd joke. If we don’t face our history squarely, how can we hope to have a future?

If your argument is that portrayals [of China by foreigners] are biased against you, then I would counter that it is you who are more biased than anyone. [Chinese]


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