The counter-culture is finding its feet in China, as the Communist Party of China is losing the loyalty of teenagers and young adults who are more interested in a more bourgeois lifestyle.
The Associated Press says that a few of the communist party’s propagandistic films have flopped as of late, despite the fact that they’re using Hollywood equivalent A-listers in China to fill roles. The recent film “The Founding of an Army” — a film sponsored by China’s communist government — only found mockery and derision by China’s younger crowd.
“Chinese people are increasingly ignoring party propaganda and are much more interested in movie stars, who represent a new lifestyle and more exciting aspirations,” said Willy Lam, an expert on Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Either the younger crowd is attracted more to opportunity and ambitious goals than they are to outcomes communism can provide, or China has found celebrity worship isn’t just a western trait.
Either way, the government is treating it like a disease created by western values, and the government has attempted to strike back by tightening its grip what the youth sees in the media.
But it hasn’t worked out well:
President Xi Jinping, who will cement his authority with his expected endorsement to a second five-year term at this week’s national party congress, has placed a priority on stamping out too much Western influence in Chinese society in part so the party can dictate the values the youth should embrace.
Authorities have responded by targeting everything from gossip websites to soap opera story lines to celebrity salaries. Instead of selfish, rich stars, the state is promoting performers who are all about patriotism, purity and other values that support the party’s legitimacy.
The results have at best been mixed and at worst ham-fisted and out of touch.
According to AP, the celebrity worship has gotten so bad that when it was announced that the Chinese equivalent of Justin Beiber, Lu Han, announced he had a girlfriend, the resulting mass of responses, shares, and likes crashed a popular microblog.
China’s propaganda machine has continuously tried to push a sense of patriotism and morality on its people, especially its youth. This means controlling stories, limiting exposure to various types of news, and punishing those who step out of line.
However, China’s attempt at keeping all the fun stuff out of view will only encourage people, especially the youth, to see what’s behind the curtain. What China might be seeing is the swing of the pendulum toward a more western lifestyle, after trying to pulling it into a communist one for so long.
It’ll be interesting to see how Chinese culture shifts over the next decade, and what the Chinese Communist Party will do to stop it.