Print & Pixels
The Not-So-Magic Kingdom

Disney is hardly alone in groveling before the gates of the Middle Kingdom.

Published on: November 6, 2017
Martha Bayles teaches humanities at Boston College, is author of Through a Screen Darkly: Popular Culture, Public Diplomacy, and America's Image Abroad (Yale 2014), is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, and a regular columnist for TAI.
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  • TPAJAX

    Look at the implication. China is extremely weak. It’s a facade. The system is not a democracy. They have to strictly control press and speech. They don’t allow you to just waltz in and print what you want in mandarin, often not even in English! By stark contrast, America let’s the Chinese regime print and say what it wants – daily – in the US. No worries. No problem.

    And I don’t believe for one second what they’re saying about this guy Xi. He’s one of the princelings born into the party. He’s up to his eyeballs in the party. the corruption, the killing. He’s a prisoner. He’s being set up as a fall guy, or at least he’s like Putin. Too scared to leave because no one that he can trust to pardon him.

    • KremlinKryptonite

      China as you know it can only exist as a national security state. Divide it up and you’ll understand why the power and guns are in the north, and the money, productivity and wealth is elsewhere. Look at the north, the west, and the center south. Do you know how many centuries of killing it took to consolidate the north with it’s wide-open plateaus under more or less a single ethnic group? It took many. In the meantime, anybody up there has had to hunker down and do their best to avoid invasion because there’s absolutely nothing to stop an adversary from rolling in. Even the great wall didn’t stop the Mongols in the end lol.

      Move out west and you get more ethnic tensions, even some fairly significant cultural differences. The area still struggles with abject poverty. Agriculture is still backward. Private farmland ownership and enterprise farming is of course prohibited by the Communist Party. Go figure. One of the reasons why the area lags, and also one of the reasons why the party literally is asking Iowa farmers to come over and tutor them. Not likely going to help much. You’re not really inclined to work too hard on a piece of property that you do not own, and cannot sell.

      Then you have the more secessionist center-south. This is the area where, particularly in the far south of China, Northerners visit and get bitten by bugs and fall ill with weird diseases. Really not so dissimilar from Americans traveling from the north down into the deep South and into the Caribbean. More cultural differences here. But this is where the money is.

  • Jim__L

    I would love to see a “Wonders of America” 360 circle-vision production by a Chinese film crew familiar with Disney’s original.

    One of the fascinating things about watching other countries’ contemporary art / media forms is seeing what they think of this country. Anime depictions of American culture and character types are frequently hilarious.

    • tellourstory
    • tellourstory
      • Jim__L

        Which anime is this from?

        My kids are currently into “Girls und Panzer”, which is a lot of fun, but kind of scary if you think (as I read on this or other political site) that Japan is cloaking its militarism in a shroud of cuteness. The series certainly traffics in national stereotypes, in a very playful way.

        • tellourstory

          It’s from a series called “Hetalia,” which is a show where nations are personified. Each short episode tends to feature different characters playing out some part of their history or culture. The characters themselves are based on stereotypes from their respective countries. For example, America always wants to be the leader/hero and is constantly eating junk food.

          It’s pretty silly overall, but I checked it out because I like historical things.

          As for the masked militarism, there’s quite a bit of truth to that in my view. Japan technically isn’t supposed to have a military at all, but they rank as seventh in terms of global firepower. https://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=japan

          • D4x

            In the interest of history: Bayles: “Walt Disney would roll over in his grave, if he had one.” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/95b333ee06687b18e39c10b7bbeddf0d43df9850a5bd0c548c9faa77f54db062.jpg Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills: Walt Disney ashes are somewhere

            It’s an interesting post, but Bayles misses an opportunity. “increase quotas on the import of foreign films to China” is actually a big deal, high on the US Trade Representative and SecCommerce Ross’ 2017 priorities, although impossible to research in those two agency websites. Variety and Deadline try to keep track.

            Expanding that quota is a good way to make a dent in the USA-China trade imbalance.

            SecTreas Mnuchin understands that better than most, having great success as Hollywood executive producer.

            In 2015, during a very snowy winter, I had some fun exploring how foreign box office determined an American film’s financial success, or failure. Eastwood’s brilliant “American Sniper”, which did NOT get past China’s quota, was a rare exception, beating Disney’s “Cinderella”, which grossed 71.5MILUSD in China.

            My memory is that box office success in 2015 correlated with a) animation/special effects; b) China;
            and/or c) Angelina Jolie and/or Brad Pitt; with Eastwood being a wild card 🙂 I stopped going to movies after “The Big Short”, “Sully”, and “Allied” in 2016.

            Reference:
            2015 [Domestic] Box Office Totals a Record $11 Billion
            http://www.boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=4138&p=.htm
            Foreign & Domestic “American Sniper”: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=americansniper.htm
            Foreign & Domestic “Cinderella”: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=cinderella2015.htm

            [In 3Q2017, boxofficemojo.com’s mission has been to ‘disappear’ “Weinstein” from the website. Was trying to correlate the former great actress Meryl Streep and Horrible Harvey; a self-censored website!]

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