Distorted shows on Japanese invasion do China no favours
ARE you tired of exaggerated Hollywood action movies that defy common sense? But once you watch some Chinese dramas on the war against the Japanese invasion and occupation in the 1930s and 1940s, you will realise that the Hollywood flicks are much better.
In one Chinese drama, a sniper shoots an enemy soldier a huge distance away, while in another, Chinese fighters are shown destroying an aircraft by throwing grenades in the sky and shooting them with rifles to cause an explosion.
As if these were not enough, in another drama, a naked girl is shown waving goodbye to an entire battalion of Chinese fighters. The less said, the better about the depiction of "foolish Japs", because all such dramas have at least one or two of them.
Hopefully, such absurd dramas will no longer be approved. Tian Jin, deputy director of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said recently that TV programmes and films on the war may not be approved if they have such content.
The war against the Japanese from 1937 to 1945 was bloody and exacted great sacrifice from the Chinese people and army. By distorting this part of history, the TV dramas and films are not only belittling the Chinese people's sacrifice, but also insulting their martyrdom.
Those who make such dramas say TV programmes and films need not depict history; artistic rendition is necessary to tell good historical stories.
But the fact is that the makers of such dramas cannot (or do not) distinguish between "fiction" and "distortion". Fiction is rational imagination based on truth - it respects truth - while distortion means fabricating facts.
Such distorted dramas, even if declared "fiction, not history", can distort a nation's popular history.
Since films and TV series are more popular than history textbooks, some viewers could mistake them for the truth and would never try to find out what really happened. Children and young people, who easily believe what they are told, would end up having the wrong idea of history.
If distorted dramas keep dominating TV channels, an entire generation will not know how cruel the war was. Thus, it is necessary to stop such dramas from distorting history and, for that, we need to find out why they are made in the first place.
The answer is entertainment. Market-oriented reforms have led to competition among film and TV series directors for viewers' ratings.
Worse, the dramas have a huge demand because they appeal to some people. Given the fast pace of life today, people in general do not want to wrack their brains while watching TV programmes or films.
When it comes to the war, distorted dramas also help Chinese viewers to vent their anger and hatred against the Japanese invaders.
Entertainment is not a bad thing, but an entertainment programme that distorts the bloody history of a country can never be good.
Let us hope the the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television will, as it has said, end the trend of such dramas. But that would still not be enough, for good films and TV series have to meet the demands of the audience in order to drive out the bad ones. That will, in turn, require the entire TV drama industry to change its tack and come up with better productions.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
The writer is a director and senior researcher at the Film, TV and Play Research Centre, Peking University.
The article is an excerpt from his interview with China Daily's Zhang Zhouxiang.