South Asia has been gripped by a scandal surrounding an Indian film called “Padman” which fetishises female menstruation, while publicly airing private biological functions. Pakistani officials have moved to ban the film, saying that it is not in keeping with Pakistani values. This itself has led to a sadly predictable tirade of anti-Pakistani insults from prominent Indian celebrates.
But while India’s film makers chase the lowest common denominator, China has started a new initiative to help promote films that have a morally positive message. China is to select 5,000 cinemas to participate in what is being called a “People’s Cinema Line”. The selected cinemas will offer low cost tickets to see films which promote mainstream Chinese values in keeping with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism With Chinese Characteristics For A New Era.
According to professor Su Wei, of the Communist Party of China Chongqing Committee’s Party School, the films promoted on the People’s Cinema Line will emphasise the history, patriotism, equality, cultural values and reform of the Chinese nation, thus fostering a sense of internal and communal dialogue about how to be better citizens.
Due to the popularity of these films, all cinemas selected will be those with a minimum of 100 seats. The programme looks to challenge the dominance of Hollywood style films which focus on individual greed, violence, competition and self-obsession and instead allow Chinese to see much loved films which speak to the peaceful socialist values of the Chinese nation.
At a time when India has decided to embrace western style smut, China is working to promote its own value system for the pedagogical benefit of young and old alike in a win-win model for contemporary cinema.
Film, like television, music and literature is best when it reflects the positive values of a nation. In an age where people are working hard to improve their society, there is no need to be bombarded with the negative, the vulgar, the morose or the depressive. Russian opposition leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) has suggested that government authorities should put a limit on the vulgar, violent and depressing material shown on many privately operated Russian television and film outlets. Instead Zhirinovsky has encouraged the proliferation of positive films, the kind that China is now working to promote through its existing network of cinemas.
China’s People’s Cinema Line can provide an excellent model that Russia can adopt with its own needs in mind, based on the suggestions that Zhirinovsky has made before the State Duma. This is yet another example of how both economically, technologically and morally, China and India are moving in entirely different directions.