Zhang LiJia , our beloved speaker from Beijing and author of best-seller “Socialism is Great”, has recently shared her views of the worship of Mao in China today, and the banning of the popular TV program “Super Girl”. What does these phenomenons tell us about the modern China?
For me, this episode is another reminder that the long arm of the government is still there. Every day, when I drive my electric scooter along the 4th ring road, breaking the traffic law from time to time and passing modernistic building’s such as the new CCTV tower, I often feel China is so free.
The official reason for not continuing with this show was that it has been running for too long. In reality, it might be the victim of its success. At one point, it attracted 400 million viewers across the country. It also attracted unwanted attention from some conservative leaders, in particular Liu Zhongde, a former culture minister. Back in 2006, two years after ‘Super Girl’ burst into life, he had launched a personal campaign against the show, describing it as ‘vulgar’, ‘insulting education’ and ‘poison to the young people’.
There’s always generation gap. And the gap between China’s young generation and their parents is wider than ever before. They are far more worldly, opinionated and harder to be brain washed and they are increasingly individualistic. In fact, one of the selling points of ‘Super Girl’ was that it encouraged girls to be awesome, be yourself and using this opportunity to express your individuality. The heavy-handed way the ‘Super Girl’ was dealt with may not work with the youngsters. The authorities can pull the plug of the show but can’t pull them away from the love songs in English and to embrace the revolutionary songs in their own tongue.
I remember reading an article in China Daily, quoting a survey conducted in 2008 by Horizon Research Consultancy Group which suggested that 11.5 percent of Chinese in 40 Chinese cities and towns worship Mao statues at home. People pray that Mao would bring them good luck in their business, marriages and health. I am not sure I can believe the figure – it sounds too high, and disturbingly so. But I have no doubt that a deitification of some sort has been going on. There have always been rumors how vehicles avoided all accidents and robbery through the mere presence of Mao’s picture. Where do myth and truth meet?