Good evening, Beijing. I thought it time we had a little talk: Chinese State Television Airs V for Vendetta

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Good evening, Beijing. I thought it time we had a little talk: Chinese State Television Airs V for Vendetta

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trade News | December 17, 2012 | Comments ()


Sometimes things do change, ever so slowly. And sometimes the signs are as simple as a movie being broadcast on television. Chinese state television aired V for Vendetta on Friday night.

It's just a movie being broadcast on television, but it's not just any movie, and it wasn't done on accident or by some junior bureaucrat who's going to get hung from the rafters next week as a consequence.

Sure, they changed the title from V for Vendetta to something like V Special Forces, but then only the most trivial of titles survive translation and then translation back without complete butchery. Not to mention that I'm not entirely sure how the idiom citing the first letter ("A is for Apple" etc.) can really function in a non-phonetic language anyway.

But the basic facts still hold. The authoritarian Chinese government allowed the airing on state television of an essentially unedited film of violent resistance against an authoritarian government, leaving unchanged even the most obvious of censor-provoking sentiments like the famous "people should not fear their governments, governments should fear their people."

It's not open elections, it's not prison doors swinging open. But it might be the first sign of a crack in another door.

(source: THR)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • John G.

    If they get the freedom, will I have to pay real wages to the slaves who make my computers?

  • csb

    it’s not prison doors swinging open

    Doesn't the US have the largest prison population in the world?

  • EKami

    It's big news because it's a movie about the thing the Chinese government is most afraid of: the power of its own people. Controlling the populace is the PRIMARY mission of the Party. Every decision they make is made with this in mind, because they know that a single spark could unseat them (as rebellions in China have done before). The sentiment 'People shouldn't be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people' is dimly felt in China but has rarely been expressed as clearly as it is in this flick, due to strict media censorship.

    Unfortunately, the only way I imagine 'V' got aired is because its message was completely lost in translation.

  • Idle Primate

    They have 1.4 billion people. Their primary goal is feeding and employing those people as well as maintaining stability during an unfolding demographic nightmare.

  • SJ

    If the movie emphasized the anarchistic message that V embodied in the comics, I might think this to be a sign of progress. But considering how much the movie amplified the focus on the villains being part of a right-wing neocon authoritarian regime and watered down V's anarchism to a kind of revolutionary populism, I doubt it will do much rock the boat in China. Remember, the official propaganda of the Chinese government as that they overthrew a previous tyrannical government and that they now represent the people; regardless of the current reality in China, the PRC government loves stories about revolutionaries overthrowing corrupt regimes, so long as they are corrupt western regimes.

  • duckandcover

    I'm not sure why this is news.

  • Idle Primate

    The first sign of a crack in the door? First? You're kidding right? I guess from some perspectives a comic book movie might be a bigger sign post than a rising state sponsored educated middle class, a drastically revamped economic policy, a generation of student and academia led movements, a generation of increasingly open doors to the west, hell probably hundreds of other developments.

    It seems a bit smug too, for a nascent experimental civilization(one in the middle of a long slow collapse) to pAtronize a 1000s of years old civilization by patting it on the back for playing movies on tv

  • PyD

    I think you underestimate the level to which the notion of the foreign corrupt other prevails in the official rhetoric of China.
    This is a movie about a corrupt foreign government, the same one from the opium wars. They're not afraid of its message because its not about them and they don't consider that people en masse could associate it as such.

    Also they just updated their national firewall to nuke VPNs.

  • sgmagnus

    It hasn't done much to swing open prison doors here, why should we expect much over in China?

  • Quatermain

    The reason it's 'not done much over here' is because once you shake all of the hyperbole, rhetoric, and teenage angst out of the discussion, you realize that we're not actually being ground under the boot heel of a brutal authoritarian regime.

  • sgmagnus

    "We" the commentariat of Pajiba certainly aren't, no -- but the same can't be said for our prison population, which is significantly larger than China's (not per capita -- in absolute numbers, which is insane). The same can't be said of people living in black and Latino neighborhoods who are subjected to warrantless searches of their persons and verbal and physical abuse at the hands of the police (reference: The same can't be said for Pakistani and Iranian civilians who are the targets of our amoral foreign policy.

    The authoritarianism in our own government operates by convincing middle and upper class Americans that it doesn't exist, as you are convinced. But dismissing its existence as teen angst just shows you're not paying attention.

    I suppose an argument can be made that the authoritarianism in China is worse, or that it affects more people, but that argument doesn't make the problems in our own countries disappear.

  • Quatermain

    Your video wouldn't play, which is a shame because I have no doubt it would have totally changed my mind. After all, nothing lends credence and gravitas to an argument in quite the same way that a YouTube clip does.

  • John G.

    America is the bestistis place in the whole world, no matter what reality says, and anyone who says different must be some dumb university student. What has education ever done for anyone? My American flag wall has never lied to me before.

  • sgmagnus

    You're too kind. I'm glad it didn't open, because your premium Internet snark has already changed my mind. God bless America!

  • zeke_the_pig

    Or indeed here in Britain.

    As a poetic sentiment it's nice. Even perhaps as a part of a glacially snowballing change it's nice. As a harbinger of practical change, however, I think it'll prove negligible.

  • Brian

    Pretty damn astonishing.

  • lowercase_ryan


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