Lessons from Pandora's Ministry of Propaganda

By Huang Hung (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-01-19 09:17
Large Medium Small

Lessons from Pandora's Ministry of Propaganda

It was truly a case of, "I came, I WAS seen, and I conquered". The lines of people waiting outside Chinese cinemas to see Avatar were amazing.

Apparently, there was a 2,000 people run on tickets at a cinema in Beijing, and there was a line that curved 18 times in Shanghai.

It was bitterly cold in Beijing when the film was released, so rich people sent their drivers at 4 am to line up for tickets, and spoiled brats sent their mothers.

This only happens on the Chinese mainland. Somehow, the film struck a chord with Chinese audiences and created nothing less than a social phenomenon.

The film is a brilliant promotion of Pandoran values, which just happen to be identical to liberal American values.

Lessons from Pandora's Ministry of Propaganda

There is the white man's guilt vis--vis native Indians. Most Chinese see themselves as the Indians, I know they are not Indians, they are Na'vi and blue, but we identify with them.

Why? All the forced removal of old neighborhoods in China makes us the only earthlings today who can really feel the pain of the Na'vi. Someone on Sina twitter actually suggested that watching Avatar should be mandatory for all government officials working in the "Removal Office".

Then there is the newly discovered "I am an underdog after all" sentiment of Chinese who were born in the 1980s. This is our first single-child generation to enter the work force.

They have grown up with dreams of being the next tycoon or Internet guru. For the past 10 years, the majority of them have been stuck in cubicles pushing paper. They are all broken dreams, clipped wings and wounded egos. They need a cause badly, and they want to prove that even though they cannot walk, they can fly. And, guess what? they also happen to be the core of Chinese moviegoers.

Last but not least, the Mother Tree stuff - it's all very Tao, isn't it? - that all beings are connected in the cosmos. Deep down, there is a little bit of Tao in every Chinese.

Bravo to the Pandora Ministry of Propaganda for capturing the hearts and minds of the Chinese. Unfortunately for its Chinese counterpart, Avatar is a tough act to follow. On Saturday, the epic Chinese film Confucius (孔子) will be released. As everyone knows, promoting Chinese values across the planet is synonymous with promoting Confucius. So this epic film is part and parcel of an earthly campaign to make OUR values known across the land. If this is a popularity test against Pandoran values, I have great worries for Confucius.

To start with, the premiere of the film was a ceremony during which the stars actually got on their knees and kowtowed to the descendents of Confucius. I don't know, would you rather fly on the back of a dragon or kowtow to strangers named Kong? It's really a no-brainer, isn't it?

My sincere recommendation to our Ministry of Propaganda is to send a delegation to Pandora. Maybe there is something to be learned.