Wednesday, September 22, 2010
When Art Becomes Political Tool
Now we are living in the world that people have all kind of access to entertainment and fun. Thousands of movies, dramas, plays, concerts are going on every day. But imagine there are only 8 plays for you to watch in the whole world? I might just commit suicide. The documentary “the 8 model works” stroke me hard because it reminded me that there was really a period of time in Chinese history that people has so limited freedom.
8 model works refer to eight plays wrote by writers appointed by the center government and performed by artists approved by the center government. The plays paid contribute to Chairman Mao, the CCP and the new PRC. They were designed to educate people to respect the authorities, to focus on class struggle and to fight back the landlords. This was probably the original type of media censorship in China—controlling everything people could possibly see.
Although the plays themselves had high aesthetic value, I still felt that any value was offset by the blatant political persuasion. Arts were no longer pure or spontaneous; they were just affected and superficial.
Looking retrospect into history, cases in which arts are used for political purpose are abundant. Although I understand that arts and artists are influenced by social, political and economic circumstances, artists should be given the right to express their own feelings. I really hope that contemporary art won’t be contaminated by sheer politics or government control.