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April 26th, 2009

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09:28 pm - Chinese history documentary and APHetalia (lol, I'm such a PoliSci geek)

I just finished watching the first part of a 3-part documentary on China's contemporary history.  The trilogy is called "China - A Century in Revolution" and the first part's called 'China in Revolution 1911–1949', the second part is 'The Mao Years1949–1976' and the third part is 'Born Under the Red Flag 1976–1997'.


I've only seen the first part but so far it's not bad.  I took notes as I watched of things I felt it could have touched on but didn't, came up with 3 pages of notes, but I felt overall it was pretty good.  I think a lot of the stuff I felt they could have touched on but didn't would help the audience better understand why the Chinese people accept the Communist Party as their government even today, but as a documentary I guess that area might've been a bit too subjective to cover.  At the same time though I find when documentaries just rattle off events and facts ('this battled happened here, lots of people died, that battle took place there, the defense was broken, etc.') it causes the audience to forget to connect events to the effect it has on the people who were involved.  I mean people who live through those years form their opinions and perspectives based on what they see and hear from those events, and those opinions and perspectives are passed down from generation to generation.  It's subjective to be sure, but that subjectivity in history also helps to explain certain things in the world today.  For example, say a documentary is made in the future about our era and talks about the Bush administration.  It might talk about 9/11, about the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the controversy at the UN over Iraq, the disapproval of the people over the invasion of Iraq, Guatanamo, but for us who live in this era, who hear of it daily, who see it on the news, these events forms our opinions, our attitudes, it dictates how we respond to certain issues in the future, it influences how we view certain policies, how we react to certain initiatives by certain governments or people, but because these would be speculations and can't be based on solid facts documentaries generally won't include them. 

At the same time, as I was watching the documentary talk about WWII it all of a sudden dawned on me that in the anime Axis Power Hetalia they've got China in a Communist uniform, but it was never the Communists that the allied forces supported (or more particularly the USA supported since the other allies had their hands full on the European front).  All of the support went to Jiang Kai-Chek's Nationalist forces (did I spell his name right?  There's like a dozen ways to spell his name @__@) and although at one point one of the advisors the USA sent to China wanted the USA to send military supplies to the Communists (after he became disappointed at how corrupt the high-ranking officials in the Nationalist party were) Jiang admantly refused to allow it and had the advisor recalled.  I always thought something was odd about China in a Communist uniform in Hetalia, I mean I knew the Communists didn't win the civil war and establish the PRC until 1949 but I totally forgot about the Nationalists during WWII while watching Hetalia. 

Next up, part two, 'The Mao Years1949–1976'.  See, that's another detachment, I find for a lot of people when they think of Mao they think 1949-1976, as if the guy didn't exist before the establishment of the PRC (or just kind of hovered in the background) then just randomly showed up in the spotlight.  Mao was around way earlier, even before WWII and everything he did up to 1949 contributed to the attitude of the Chinese people towards him following 1949 and even today.  It's not like he just popped in, brainwashed everyone into worshipping him in 1949 then ran the country through the wringer.  The influence he held, the power, the willingness of the people to listen to him and follow him, a lot of that had its base before 1949 because he was so successful at leading the Communists through the years of conflict (during which time the peoples attitudes towards the Communist Party was also heavily shaped I might add).  I've met a lot of people puzzling over why people would listen to Mao after craptastic ideas like the Great Leap Forward, the anti-rightest movements and the Cultural Revolution, I mean the CR lasted for 10 years you'd think people would realize after a few months it was a crappy idea and start going "wtf...our leader's a bit of a psycho", but they forget the influence Mao's had on that entire era from before WWII during the first establishment of the Communist Party, the fighting against the Nationalists, the Long March, WWII, more fighting with the Nationalists all the way until the establishment of the PRC and thereafter.

(Apologies to the non-PoliSci geeks on my f-list.  I thought about making a new journal just for my politics-related rantings but I'm too lazy to handle two journals...easier to just keep everything together)

[EDIT]: Finished watching the 2nd and 3rd parts of the series.  Hn, not as impressed as I was with the first part.  I have some questions regarding the people they chose to interview.  The Tiananmen Square incident of 1989 was tough to watch.  What the fuck was the government doing letting the protesters run rampant in the capital city for so long??  Then just watching as students and workers from other cities join them?  Are you kidding me?  They basically paralyzed the capital city, were on the verge of paralyzing several cities because students and workers around the country wanted to show support without actually thinking about whether what was being demanded was practical or not, while the majority of the Chinese population were still poor and rural farmers who were just happy for a few years of peace and having enough food to eat under Deng's reforms.  First Deng gave them a warning in the China Daily, then there were negotiations, then martial law was declared, then the PLA was called in but got stopped by the protesters for TWO WEEKS, wtf is that??  I can't believe any government would have the patience to let these guys roam about their doorstep for as long as they did, pft.  Totally should've let them had their little thing for Hu Yaobang then shoo-ed them home the next day at the latest so it wouldn't have had the chance to snowball into what it did.  Protests aren't a good idea in China, too dangerous because of the population which increases the chances for mobs to form and for things to get out of control.  A protest elsewhere is lucky to get a few hundred people, in Chinese cities it can run into tens of thousands far too easily and with more people the higher the chances for things to go wrong and for people to take advantage of the chaos.  I hate seeing protests in China, like the boycotts of Carrefour last year, it makes me nervous.  Someone could easily break a window or something prompting the Chinese authorities to have to step in and then getting it labelled as another crackdown ~__~  And for some reason I find protests in China to be less...predictable than here.  Like here when I see protests even though there are still chances someone migh do something stupid (like break the window of a store or something) I find I feel it's not as probable, usually people scream some slogans, wave some flags and that's that.  Protests in China I don't have quite that much...confidence in predicting how far some of the people might go, although that could be because I've lived here most of my life. 

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