🇨🇳 When propaganda sells: Blockbuster films and the Chinese State | The Listening Post (Feature)

🇨🇳 When propaganda sells: Blockbuster films and the Chinese State | The Listening Post (Feature)



to China now a country that's been flexing its media muscle and not just in the news realm for all of the attention that Hollywood and Bollywood attract the past two years have produced the three highest-grossing movies in China's cinematic history wolf warrior – Operation Red Sea and the wandering earth have different settings and themes but they're all action films and look beyond the gratuitous violence implausible plot lines and special effects and you'll detect some jingoistic themes that are very much in line with President Xi Jinping's brand of national assertiveness throw in some government backing either tacit or financial and these films take on a very different feel cinema has always played a central role in the media strategy of the Communist Party are we simply seeing more celluloid based propaganda revamped for the 21st century or just a market-based response to the demands of Chinese movie-going audiences the listening-posts Meenakshi Ravi now on the new blockbusters of Chinese cinema [Applause] they're blockbuster action films made in China with a Chinese cast but almost none of them are actually set in China wolf Warrior 2 was released in July 2017 in an unnamed African country workers in a Chinese factory are taken hostage by mercenaries from Europe the action hero is actor and director Wu Jing who plays an ex-military man with 875 million dollars in box office earnings wolf Warrior 2 is not just the highest-grossing film ever made or distributed in China it's the highest-grossing non-english language film of all time Operation Red Sea which came out in February 2018 is based in a fictional country modeled on the enemy called Yahweh and the wandering earth released in February this year takes Chinese cinema even further afield it's a science fiction film set in space together these are the three most commercially successful Chinese films ever released and they all tell stories of China's growing international power at the end of World War II – there's a Chinese passport on screen with a slogan wherever you are in the world the government of the country is always behind you does that convey a very strong nationalist message to the audience and something probably unavoidable in a men story film release in China these are different from previous propaganda nationalist movies which came out of state sector they have budgets through a large enough to accommodate top actors good locations and quality special effects in other words these are Chinese movies being made on a Hollywood scale about subjects that might have been in the past considered as state made propagandist subjects Chinese cinema has come a long way since its days as a mere messaging vehicle for the Communist Party films of the 50s and 60s such as the white haired girl the battle on shanghai mountain and the red detachment of women were all aimed at spreading a unifying message a communist vision to knit a vast divided country together by the 1990s beijing had shifted from communism to a more market-driven system Chinese cinema found a new impetus the possibility of commercial success led by the example of movie makers in Hong Kong film makers on the mainland started experimenting with new genres action movies period dramas chick flicks rom-coms even satire Cesar and daughter Luda producer it was clear to mainland Chinese producers just how much potential her domestic market had having come of age watching Hong Kong cinema in the 80s and 90s they began to invite filmmakers from there to come over Hong Kong's film industry offered the model for China it was diverse it had stars and it played with different genres and Boyett what's interesting about some of these films is precisely because of the popularity of the people involved they can push the envelope a little bit some shotguns film big shots funeral had a long comedy revolved around product placement this was a very cynical way of making money by putting large corporations products into the film at the same time the story of the film was about the corruption of everyday life by advertising and market culture and functions films are full of that kind of rather cynical approach to Chinese culture and life today cynicism satire critique once they get past the censors they can attract sizable audiences the 2012 comedy lost in Thailand made a spectacle of Chinese materialism in 2016 the mermaid a fantasy romance comedy pushed an unabashed critique of environmental negligence in China oh they call it the cows I bigger no footing chickadee mano comes you know him show you that both films topped the box office it's about more than just money though there have been occasions when a film can actually make a political difference 2018 dying to survive was based on the true story of one man's mission to smuggle cheap cancer medicine from India into China it generated such a response that the government was forced to announce new policies on drug pricing perhaps inspired or possibly put on notice by the pull of such films Beijing has doubled down on cinema as a tool for its own purposes it's resulted in what's called junsu in lose or main melody filmmaking fusing typical Chinese political messaging with the production values budgets and mass market appeal of commercial cinema ma'am melody films have become even more popular and the current government younger generation theme viewers didn't go through the previous decades and it's easy for them to accept this type of films then older generations save boy in 1960s 70s this is also to do ways as a production quality of those films in the past day propaganda films mostly came out of the state-owned studios the restructuring that took place in 2000 2001 saw many of those studios disappear get consolidated and will frankly overtaken by private sector companies and then after a few years of this we've also seen the state sector learning from what the private sector was doing this since Chinese film makers learnt how to make films with messages that the Communist Party liked but with a Hollywood system movie stars genres etc and box off has been picked up in you've got a situation where the Chinese film industry is delivering popular films that at the same time meet the requirements of the party superhit films are of growing importance for the communist parties media strategy last year the state film and television regulator was abolished and cinema was brought under the control of China's quite forthrightly named propaganda department and aside from the routine censoring of films the government has singled out directors investors and film stars for disciplinary action the message cannot be missed no matter how successful Chinese commercial cinema is Beijing remains the power center and it will use its labyrinthine set of rules and laws to determine what's allowed and what's not I think there is very weak what you can do what you can't do some people do something without run into trouble some people do the same thing but they're getting into trouble and it's also not just based on the current rules no but also the current political circumstances environment and so on this also doubtless instances of content being removed after films are made a reducing in frequency this doesn't necessarily mean there's more self-censorship brother does mutual understanding for example if I feel this injustice is taking place things that make us angry or unhappy I want to shout about them place them front and center instead you must wrap them up and place your critique in deeper and deeper layers of there is a paradox in Chinese cinema today the more audiences Chinese firms attract the more earnings they bring the closer is the scrutiny they come under from the state China is ramping up its messaging not just inside the country but globally as well and big budget firms could spur a new age of Chinese soft power with sequels to Wolf Warrior 2 and Operation Red Sea already underway Chinese filmmakers could find their work being watched much more closely by Beijing than ever before

22 thoughts on “🇨🇳 When propaganda sells: Blockbuster films and the Chinese State | The Listening Post (Feature)

  1. Samuel Untermeyer created Hollywood in 1909.
    He created the Federal Reserve in 1913.
    He created “Scofield bible” in 1909.
    Do you start to get what’s the game…?

  2. Another aljazeera cynical fact twisting "reporting" with no real meaning. Is this a middle eastern news organization or an American one?

  3. The movie will please a lot Chinese, especially the elders who were constantly been told China is the Best country, and we have a great government, Because the censorship. But some of us just feel sick about it, we know it's not true.We hate our government , and we can't say it in public.The box-office is not true, yes ,we can fake almost everything.

  4. Oh, those chinese are using their movies to promoting their ideology and values !
    Don't make me laugh
    how many movies that gangs holds a funny slavic accent?
    how many movies that we asians live in a bamboo house next to a rice paddy?
    time for some change

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