The Associated Press recently reported that Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Katy Perry have all been deemed threats to “cultural national security” in China, and that the government is surveilling, reprimanding and controlling content on music websites in a protracted effort to remove songs and control download listings.Its the tiger chasing its tail scenario and can be seen within the context of China’s slowly crumbling economy. Its sham accounting practices, phantom cities and rioters on a weekend entertainment spree. Its shiny successes seem illusory and fleeting since its economic model is based on growth more than profit, and similar to a Ponzi scheme it crashes under crisis or strain, resulting in a structural response based on the classic model of greater repression.
It comes to the distorted and now fragmenting concept of the nation state based on geographic sovereignty, which reserves the right to assert cultural norms. This is at the heart of the China cultural crisis and what is most under attack from the West, though a similar but different scenario exists within the West. All states seem unable or unwilling to arrive at solutions in which to accommodate the need for diversity and culture at a more profound structural level. …
Leah McLaren:when it occurred to me: Hey, maybe autocratic cultural censorship isn’t such a bad thing after all.
Now, before you sit up, snap your fingers and get all “Born This Way is the greatest gay anthem since Material Girl” on me, pause to consider the following: Scroll farther down the list of recently banned singles in China (past the lengthy Taiwanese and Hong Kong hit parade) and you will notice the inclusion of a certain 12-year-old Backstreet Boys single, I Want it That Way.
The fact that this song made the list gave me serious pause, for two reasons. The first was surprise, as there is nothing in its lyrics that could possibly be construed as politically subversive or even overtly sexual (unless you are so Pollyanna that rhyming “fire” with “desire” makes you blush). The second was relief, due to a very personal scarring memory involving the same track: In the early days of my career, I was made to review a Backstreet Boys concert for this very paper. I don’t want to talk about it further except to say that prolonged exposure to teenage female hysteria combined with synth-heavy boy-band choruses can lead to dizziness, nausea, bleeding ears and suicidal thoughts….
…So here’s the interesting thing. I rarely agree with the Chinese government. (In fact, inside my head I’m having a raging argument with Hu Jintao right now, which may account for the sour look on my face.) But I’d be lying if I said I haven’t often wished I could erase I Want it That Way from the culture. I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t think it was a good thing for China, and by that measure, a good thing for a fifth of the world. I know censorship is a slippery slope, but we’re talking about 1.3 billion lucky people who never have to risk hearing Nick Carter asking in a falsetto “Tell me why-eee?” ever again! How can any sane person not see the overwhelming good in that?…
Presuming the Chinese government is right and this whole democracy/Internet thing is just a passing trend, I think banning terrible pop songs (or movies or TV shows or even, yup, I’ll say it, books) could be the way forward. I say this not because I think the Chinese government is correct in its instinct to quash
sonal freedom and stamp out individual expression, but because I Want it That Way is a dreadful song; and anyone who argues for its right to exist – even purely on principle – has obviously never felt their ears bleed in the third row of the SkyDome at 11 p.m. when they could have been at home on the sofa sipping a full-bodied Barolo with their boyfriend.
I’m not an idiot, folks. I see what the Chinese government is up to here. They’re not banning songs because they’re dangerous. They’re banning songs because they’re lousy. And that, I think, we can all totally get behind.
Yes I know, we in the West are brought up to believe censorship is evil, but wouldn’t it be lovely – and frankly a good thing for the culture – if we could ban a few things ourselves? I’m not talking about cracking down on dissent, but legislating taste….
…For instance, my university dorm would have been a much more bearable and academically fruitful environment minus Sarah McLachlan’s weepy hymn In the Arms of An Angel. And just think of what a better place the world would be without the Transformers series. Or anything starring Kate Hudson. Or The King of Queens.
Maybe Canada’s grassroots funding of the arts is the wrong approach, and what we should be doing is censoring culture from the top down – not based on threats to our national security of course, but the (equally dangerous) threat to our intelligence, taste and sanity.
You probably think I’m joking, but I’m not. At least not about the bleeding ears part. Or Kate Hudson. As soon as China gets around to banning Bride Wars and Something Borrowed, I’m moving there. Hu Jintao, stock up on the Barolo, baby. Here I come.Read More:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/leah-mclaren/smash-the-gang-of-four-oh-and-kate-hudson-too/article2151669/
Neil Reynolds:Ms. Napoleoni’s arguments are historical fiction. Go back to Tiananmen Square. Ask the student demonstrators directly what democracy meant to them. Did it mean fidelity to Mao, whose Marxist democracy took 40 million lives? (Or was it 70 million?) Or did it evoke a more universal sentiment? And what are we to make of the famous plaster statue of a lady, 30 feet high, holding aloft a flaming lamp – the statue the demonstrators themselves called the Goddess of Democracy?
Lest we forget: The arts students who built the statue read a declaration to the 300,000 protesters when the goddess arrived at Tiananmen Square. In part, the declaration said: “[This] is the Goddess of Democracy. [She] is the symbol of every student in the square … A consciousness of democracy has awakened among the Chinese people. The new era has begun. [This statue] is made of plaster and cannot, of course, stand here forever. But, as a symbol, she is divine and inviolate. Chinese people, arise! Long live freedom. Long live democracy.”…
…Chinese army tanks cut down and silenced the Goddess of Democracy. But it is preposterous now to argue that the students of Tiananmen Square were merely calling on the spirit of Mao, were simply trying to nudge the single-party State. And it is offensive to say that the communist regime did the right thing when it turned the army on the students in Tiananmen Square. (“Looking back on the decision to suppress the Tiananmen uprisings,” she writes, “it is only honest to make an extremely painful admission: Maybe that sacrifice saved us all from catastrophe.”) The massacre, in other words, helped the Party survive until it had more fully learned the importance of profits.
The Party will undoubtedly experience more difficult times ahead. China has not heard the last from the Goddess of Democracy. Read More:http://m.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/commentary/neil-reynolds/chinas-success-as-hollow-as-its-democracy/article2197497/?service=mobile
Avner Mandelman: But second, and more crucial, as the West buys less of China’s more fully priced products, and as China’s cash needs escalate, its government, to feed the peasants and to maintain its power, will sell state assets – including gold. This, plus inflation, could push gold much lower than anyone thinks, perhaps to half its current price. How’s that for a real contrary opinion? Read More:http://www.allvoices.com/news/1760746-avner-mandelman