Friday, September 24, 2010

Political messages of “Yang Ban Xi”

Minji Kim


We usually gain our inspirations from various forms of art surrounding
us and give it back to the nature through art as well. There are many
historical evidences that art has enabled more effective
communications between a person and the other person, between a person
and a nature, and even within a human self. One of the examples of
Eastern art as a great tool of expression can be Yang Ban Xi, a very
revolutionary musical during the Cultural Revolution in China.
During the Cultural Revolution, Yang Ban Xi was the only form of art
that was not prohibited in China. What makes Yang Ban Xi more
attractive is that it was not only for entertainment but also for
political propaganda. "Art must serve the interests of the workers,
peasants, and soldiers and must conform to proletarian ideology"; this
is what chairman Mao Zedong defined Art to be. Along with Mao's
statement that art has to contain a message in any way, Madame Mao
decided to start these seven series of a show called Yang Ban Xi.
While watching the video, I was highly impressed by how vividly the
actors remember their old days spent with Yang Ban Xi and how it had a
huge impact on Chinese audiences in general. Especially, women's
participation in these shows might have made the musical more
historically meaningful. It was a way for women to participate in a
political movement since Yang Ban Xi always had a strong message for
communism, despite the low female social status. It might have had a
political oppression behind the scenes, but I think Yang Ban Xi was
also a pathway for women to play an equal role with men in a form of
art.

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