China Hopelessly Trying To Fight America’s Coolness

The New York Times is reporting that China has a pretty serious program for fighting the advances of Western culture into their country: even with its strong restrictions on imported culture, the top grossing movies in China were Avatar and Transformers 3. The government’s response was to make it clear that such restrictions aren’t going away, and that instead they will pour more money into Chinese cultural programs. The only problem with that is that anything made in China has to fall in line with their censorship program. For example, their government just removed almost a hundred entertainment shows from the air because they weren’t educational enough. Economically speaking, they’re lowering the supply of enjoyable entertainment for which there is great demand, and flooding the market with educational programs for which there already is little demand. Ironically, the result will undoubtedly be more demand for Western entertainment that’s hard to get and less for the freely available Chinese culture, because the perception always is that what’s hard to get is valuable and what’s freely available is worthless.

Chinese audience watching Avatar


In effect, the analogy is that of a very conservative family: the parents forbid listening to rock music and instead provide all the Christian pop known to man. The kids therefore, both out of sheer curiosity and to fit in with their friends, listen to rock music illicitly at friends’ houses, secretly in their rooms and at stores on the way home. Eventually, they realize that nothing’s wrong with rock music, revolt against the parents and listen to all the rock music they want. So keep restricting your citizen’s options, communist China: it’ll be your own undoing.

To be fair, the American Devil’s cultural influence is almost impossible to fight: if you try to restrict it, you bolster its value and it wins the people over with its mass appeal; if you let it flow freely, it wins the people over with its mass appeal. So if you’re a repressive government, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The only way to really fight it is to proclaim its ideals morally wrong; this works in all kinds of societies, ranging from the Amish to the Taliban. Unfortunately for the Chinese government, theirs is a secular government. Yet fortunately for the Chinese people and the Hollywood industrial complex, this means that in the not too distant future, China will be free to consume all the worthless media they can throw their dollars at.

From The New York Times

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