Saturday, June 04, 2005

Chinese Students' Top Ten Heroes


In a poll of Chinese Junior High students' Top Ten Heroes", Mao Ze Dong won first place. "Parents" were in second place. Of course it was Mao who told children to inform on their parents, and parade their elders about in the "airplane" posture. Good to see Chinese young people are still putting the Chairman first, in front of their parents. Parents were followed by Zhou En-lai, who used all his ormidable skills to try to mitigate the effects of Mao's madness. Third for him. Fourth place went to Cultural Revolution-era "model worker" Lei Feng. (I'm not sure if it was Lei Feng or some other model worker who, when the cement mixer down at the plant broke down, jumped into the vat of wet cement and began to flail around wildly in order to mix the cement. I love that story.) In fifth place, and the first contemporary - the first mortal, really - was Olympic hurdler Liu Hsiang. Sixth place was 成龍 himself, Jackie Chan.

Liu Hsiang, who seems like a nice young man, was interviewed for the article, and is quoted above. He says "Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou go without saying. They are both our Party's and our country's leaders. I have revered them as well my whole life." I think it's notable what an enormous shadow the Cultural Revolution still casts over this country, even over those who were too young to experience it. And because people's access to information about it has been managed and politicized by the CCP we can see the warping effect in that two of the three "heroes" exemplify the idea that this was a great and glorious time in Chinese history. The Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward are huge, undigested chunks of experience that this traumatized society is far from having digested.

"Liu Hsiang said 'As for Lei Feng, I have to admit I wouldn't have expected him to make the list. I would have expected today's Junior High students to have forgotten him. I think it's great, though. Whether it's today or in the future, we all need more of the Lei Feng spirit'....Brother Chan's inclusion also elucidates a problem: It seems to me that in the past a movie star could never have been included in the top ten list, but Brother Chan's movies have become all the rage. His movies exhibit the elegant bearing and panache of the Chinese. Actually, I think this is a great thing."

Jackie ("Taiwan's election was a joke") Chan is rapidly becoming the poster boy for the CCP's New China. Lyndon Johnson famously commented that he sometimes wondered if Gerald Ford hadn't played a few too many football games without his helmet on, and I'm beginning to wonder if Jackie hasn't done his own stunts a few too many times. We know what Jackie thinks because he has unfettered access to the media, but Zhao Ziyang, even posthumously, seems to be having a harder time getting his views on democracy out. Jackie's embrace of Chinese nationalism is a good career move, but the career of Ching Cheong, the Singaporean journalist who wanted to let Chinese young people read the words of Zhang, seems to stalled. As for Chan's native Hong Kong, I wonder if he thinks
their elections are a joke? I haven't seem him comment on it, but we can surmise that Jackie's not going to be making any bad career moves any time soon.