Taide’s Weblog

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Six Decades of Kitsch and Vulgar Productions

with 7 comments

From the News

Culture Minister Cai Wu criticized the trend of “vulgar productions” and “kitsch” in print and on electronic Chinese media, and lashed out at publications with gossip and sensational stories that advocate money worship and consumerism.

“We publish more than 300,000 books every year, but how many of them could be compared with the scriptures inherited from our ancestors?” asked Cai in an interview with Xinhua.

From china.org.cn


Some vulgar books about China suggest to point at the mulberry but curse the locust when you criticize someone or something.

But what I do know is that China is as old as it owns Tibet. When I’m looking at the list of Chinese classics as listed by Wikipedia, it seems to me that the classics weren’t all written within sixty years. (The first Chinese classic I ever read, aged twelve or so, was Jin Ping Mei).

The People’s Republic of China is a rather young dynasty state, and during the 1950s China reconstructed, during the 1960s, the Great Helmsman and his vulgar fat ass knocked over what had been reconstructed previously, same during much of the 1970s, and then it was time to reconstruct again.

But it’s true – after 1978, some more useful stuff could have been written. Instead, we got:

– Deng Xiaoping’s Theories (and some other of his works)

– Jiang Zemin’s Three Represents and an opera building which (experts say) lacks architectural freedom (but still looks like the shell of a nuclear reactor)

– and I’m sure Hu Jintao has hired a gang of ghostwriters already, to write some more politporn.

Not to mention the “Modern Beijing Opera” and Chinese pop “music”. And almost every speech ever delivered and printed by a Communist cadre, on whatever level of the hierarchy.

But there’s no reason to become alarmist. Time after 1949 has been too short to build a civilization in China.


Written by taide

August 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm

7 Responses

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  1. […] Six Decades of Kitsch and Vulgar Productions, Tai De, August 8, 2010 How can Chinese Academics build a more civilized…, Jan. 10, […]

  2. Cai Wu can complain all he likes about kitch art and trash fiction, but every society producers mainstream reading material which in someway or other reflects the dominant culture…..gross materialism, bling, mistresses and lots of corruption. And what are the very popular reads in China:

    Officialdom fiction or DIY manuals on grafting your way up the bureacratic ladder


    Also really bad girl fiction. I go for Mian Mian as she has been to a writers festival in my hometown.


    But if you want a really good read by a Chinese expat, go for War Trash by Ha Jin. Slightly stilted language, but brilliant in terms of recent Chinese history. (Lots of google references and naturally banned in the PRC.)

    King Tubby

    March 6, 2011 at 12:11 am

  3. That’s a long list of possible books. I tried “Shanghai Baby” years ago, and it was terrible. Is Mian Mian better? And does she match Jin Ping Mei? Can Mian Main look her ancestor in the eyes?

    Usually, like Cai Wu, I prefer authors who have been dead for at least 50 years.

    Have a nice weekend!


    March 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

  4. Taide. I never said Mian Mian turned out literature, just that she captured a nihilistic vibe in contemporary urban China.

    Nor is the sort of stuff which provides me with pleasure when I curl up on the sofa. For my money, the best fiction writers today are coming out of India. Try “Sacred Games” by Vikran Chandra or Maximun City

    King Tubby

    March 7, 2011 at 7:25 am

  5. OK. It isn’t Mian Mian, it seems to me.
    Very strange commenter, who is stalking FOARP on his blog. I wouldn’t reply to his comments, and comment on the real topics instead. Don’t make the indiscreet idiot happy. Attention must be viagra for his ego.


    March 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm

  6. Yes, I agree. This psychopath (who will be around for sometime yet, in various guises) is probably being given too much 02.

    If we exclude malicious stalking, I must admit to enjoying the occasional flame war, since it gives one the opportunity to use the English language in a quite forensic manner. (I suspect you would disagree with me here.)

    Sort of wish Kai would reinstate ChinaDivide. Had some serious fun there.


    King Tubby

    March 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm

  7. I guess Taide will disagree, as this old post in German shows. My trusty friend gave me a serious dressing-down there.

    Me enjoys the use of forensic language too, though.


    March 13, 2011 at 8:25 pm

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